Oldest Living English?
The Angles and Saxons brought with them to Britain a language which was the forerunner of modern English and indeed it was the Angles of Denmark that gave England its name - meaning the Angle land. Over the centuries the old Anglo Saxon language changed beyond recognition with the gradual introduction of Latin, Norman-French and other foreign influences.
Today the only part of England where the original Anglo-Saxon language has survived to any great extent is of course the North East. Here the old language survives in a number of varieties, the most notable of which are Northumbrian and Geordie. It is from the ancient Germanic and Scandinavian language of the Angles that the unique local dialects of Northumberland and Durham primarily owe their origins.
Geordie Words Angle origins
Distinctively Geordie and Northumbrian words are more than 80 % Angle in origin, compared to standard English, where the figure is less than 30 %. Modern English words by comaprison are predominantly of Latin origin because modern English derives from the dialects of southern England which were continuosly influenced by the Latin and Norman French favoured by the educated classes of Oxford, Cambridge and London.
Geordie words should not therefore be seen as sloppy pronounciation or a poor use of language, as they are in fact of great antiquity. Indeed many old words and phrases commonly used in the old works of Chaucer and Shakespeare which are no longer used in other parts of Britain have survived as common usage in the North East.
Of course some Geordie words are of more recent origin or are corruptions or words borrowed from other regions, but often the similarities between Anglo-Saxon and Geordie can be quite surprising. For example Geordies in the same way as the Anglo-Saxons use the word `WIFE' as term for a woman whether she is married or not, while the Anglo-Saxon word ALD (OLD) is similar to the Geordie (AAD). Thus in Anglo-Saxon ALD WIFE literally meant `Old Woman' .
Sometimes a Geordie may appear to be using words incorrectly , but this may not always be the case. For example a Geordie may say Aaal Larn yer (meaning I'll teach you) as in the Anglo Saxon Laeran which meant teach. Other Geordie words of Anglo Saxon origin include Axe (ask) from the Anglo-Saxon Acsian, Burn meaning stream, Hoppings meaning fayre and Gan which is the Geordie and Anglo saxon word meaning to go.
The unique way in which Geordies and Northumbrians pronounce certain words is also often Anglo-Saxon in origin. Thus Geordie words like Dede, Coo, Cloot, Hoos, Wrang, Strang and Lang are in fact the original Anglo-Saxon pronounciations for Dead, Cow, Clout, House, Wrong, Strong and Long.
These old words have survived in the North East for a number of reasons primarily associated with the region's historical remoteness and isolation from southern England. The turbulent border history of this region was also a major factor in discouraging outside influence although some Viking words have crept into the local dialect from the neighbouring Viking settled areas of Yorkshire, South Durham and Cumbria.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Way to go North East
Oldest Living English?