NABOKV-L post 0014460, Thu, 21 Dec 2006 16:24:13 +0000

Re: Johnson, A-S, Fitzgerald, Hamlet
On 16/12/06 01:13, "Chaswe@AOL.COM" <Chaswe@AOL.COM> wrote:

> Stan Kelly-Bootle also wrote:
> Re-Anglo-Saxon: Charles protests far too much and without due process,
> methinks, against the use of the old term OLD ENGLISH to describe the
> vernacular Germanic language[s] prevalent in Anglo-Saxon England between about
> 600 --1100 CE.
> Quote: ³my conclusion has been that Anglo-Saxon is not "Old English", any more
> than Latin is "Old Italian", or "Old Spanish", or "Old Portuguese", or "Old
> Roumanian". The use of "Old English" by modern lexicographers is tantamount to
> the anticipated collective decision of future lexicographers, five hundred
> years hence, to describe the language of Shakespeare and the Elizabethans as
> "Old American".²

Charles: you are correct in saying that ³Anglo-Saxon² and ³Old English² are
not of that rare breed ³exact synonyms.² Just as the adjectives ³American²
and ³American² are only synonymous in certain contexts!! For example,
Anglo-Saxon can be used to describe both a tribe/society and its
language[s], while Old English (in the sense you object to) applies only to
language: the later, emerging ³combined² stages of the four main dialects
rumbling round our sceptic Isles (Northumbrian, Mercian, Kentish, West-Saxon

Your straw-person analogy with ³calling Latin Old-Italian² is cunning but,
to borrow Pauli¹s Nabokovian phase ³so wrong it¹s not even wrong!² When we
lexicographers (some of whom are genuine linguists!) use helpful but
inevitably imprecise tags such as OE (Old English), ON (Old Norse), OF (Old
French), OG (Old German), MI (Medieval Italian), ML (Medieval Latin) etc.,
they are tracing word origins back to earlier known (or highly plausible)
forms of that particular language. They often add further hints such ³F via
OF via L [Latin] via PIE [Proto Indo-European] via NS [Nostratic] via E
[Edenic]² but I digress. The evolution from various vernacular Latins to the
Romance languages you mention is relatively simpler than tracing how all
those multiwave Romans, Huns, Scandinavians, and Normans combined to shape
the Modern English of Shakespeare [!] via what we USEFULLY call Old and
Middle English. I hope it¹s clear that ŒOld English¹ has Œearned¹ its place
in the linguistic lexis (object away, Charles, it¹s here to stay!) ‹ along
with Old French, Old Norse etc. Calling Latin ŒOld Spanish,¹ though, is LESS
helpful because Latin Œspawned¹ many branches in many disparate Œcolonies.¹

Stan Kelly-Bootle

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