J. K. Chambers on The Great Vowel Shift
University of Toronto linguistics professor J. K. “Jack” Chambers was on CBC radio Sunday talking about the Great Vowel Shift. It’s one of the better explanations of the topic in under ten minutes that I’ve heard. And radio is a much better medium to explain sound changes than anything in writing. There’s probably not much here for those that already know about the topic, but if you don’t or are still confused by the Great Vowel Shift, it’s well worth a listen.
Twenty Words We (Probably) Don’t Owe to William Shakespeare
A 31 January posting on the Mental Floss website has been making the rounds of Facebook and other social media sites. The post, by Roma Panganiban, lists twenty words that Shakespeare allegedly coined. The post is unadulterated bardolatry. Yes, Shakespeare was the greatest English playwright and a pretty darn good poet as well, but he was not a literary superman, and claims that he coined thousands of words have been around for years. Panganiban claims some “2200 never-before-seen words” that can be attributed to Shakespeare, although I have no idea where she gets this number.Read the rest of the article...
Video: History of the Possessive
This is a fun video, and at first blush seems pretty accurate.
ObQuibble: I question the use of the year 450 as the benchmark for Old English. That’s about the time the first Anglo-Saxons were landing in England. Most of our evidence for the language comes from several centuries later. The earliest texts of any length we have are from the eighth century. And virtually all the poetry that survives was copied down in the tenth or eleventh centuries. So it’s not really a thousand-year jump from Old English to Chaucer in the late fourteenth. It’s more like 500–700 years.
The Violence Must End
Books Read, 2012
Like last year, I’m publishing a list of the books I’ve read over the previous year. There are about as many titles as last year, but the total word count is lower given that many of them are poems. But then, many are also in Old English, so reading is much slower and more intensive.
Many of the books were on my PhD special field reading list or critical works I read in preparation for that exam.
Those marked with an asterisk are re-reads. I’ve read them before.Read the rest of the article...
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