Wandering into the Anglo-Saxon Age

My interests are definitely not limited to the classical world. I started working on Anglo-Saxon recently, which I have played with for years now but never had time to sit down and learn it. I decided to learn it entirely this time, and it’s been fascinating.

It will definitely help my understanding of English, but also my understanding of German, as it is far more Germanic than I initially realized. I really love the way the language works and the way it sounds. Plus, I may have a chance to use the language in comparative literature courses that I will be taking for grad school.

I’ve done with work some Middle English and Old Norse as well, so making those connections has been fascinating. Old Norse is like a cousin to Old English, and many of the words and mechanics of the language are very similar. There’s something chillingly beautiful and mysterious about both of these languages, as if they reflect the dark and dangerous times in which they arose.

Perhaps one of my favorite things about Old Norse and Old English is the presence of dual forms. The dual system is probably one of my favorite parts of Greek, which allows a verb to express action for strictly two subjects; not one, or more than two. I think it’s a wonderful thing, so I was very excited to learn that Old English had dual forms.

I may be able to do some really interesting studies of epic once I attain comprehension of OE, I’m still just working on grammar and memorizing forms at this point. Once I have a vocabulary and a framework of grammar, it will be fascinating to compare things like Beowulf with the Iliad, or some of the other lesser known epics. Old Norse sagas would also be great for that.

It would also be an ideal situation for bringing in some narratology to analyze some things, especially since I would be able to see what sorts of things remain the same and what things change.

I also have some reason to believe that my ancestors were Vikings and Britons, so I have a special fondness for Old Norse and Old English. I can’t wait to see what I can discover as I keep learning.

I have all summer to keep learning more languages. I’ve been gaining steady progress in German and am beginning to build a mental framework for it, simply by practicing consistently. I should be doing pretty well in all my languages by the end of the summer as I continue to strengthen Latin and Greek as well.


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