Monday, June 15, 2009

Give up?

Dear Snoops and Spies,

Have you worked it out yet, what language these words come from?

Me lifes onlah se þis leoht onwrah,

The answer is - English!

It's true! Well, a certain kind of English, called Old English. Sometimes it's called Anglo-Saxon. This was the language that people used to speak in England over a thousand years ago.That funny looking "P" was actually a special letter that made the sound "TH".

As time passed Old English turned into Middle English which turned into Early Modern English which turned into Modern English - which (phew!) is what we speak today. This is what the words mean in Modern English:

"To me he granted life He who showed this light."

It's opening line of a poem called "The Rhyming Poem." It was called this because at the time and place it was written, believe it or not, it was unusual for poems to rhyme, so the fact it did made it special.

In those days, you mainly knew a poem was a poem because it used a lot of alliteration. You know alliteration, when words all begin with the same letter - like:

"Wanda watched while wild Wilbur wiggled waspishly westwards"

and all that sort of thing.

Hmm, more of that perhaps ANOTHER day.

bye bye for now from The Word Spy

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