Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Understanding Verner's Law: Three Videos

As penance for the late “Learn Old English with the Wordhoard” post, I offer you this delightful account of Verner’s Law, in three videos. Herein, you’ll find the real reason medievalists aren’t trusted in English Departments: because we have laws, absolute laws, that show that language change is regular. No one ever went into a history of the English language lecture and heard this phrase: “How do Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law make you feeeeeeel?” For that reason, we are not to be trusted. Medievalists in history departments are not trusted for other reasons, probably involving suspicion that they can summon demons with their knowledge of Latin.

OK, all that was preparation for Verner. Here he comes!

The third video deals with a lot of the harder questions. While still entertaining, make sure your brain is thoroughly engaged.

So, now we see the benefits of understanding Verner’s Law. Here’s a testimonial:

Before I understood Verner’s Law, I thought language change was chaotic, tossed about by chance and governed by “irregular” exceptions to the so-called “rules.” Now, though, I understand that language change is regular and follows important laws, so that even those “exceptions” are probably just details about the laws we haven’t quite worked out yet. This realization has changed my life! I lost 40 pounds while gaining 25 pounds of muscle mass, I got a promotion at work with a big corner office, and now when I go to a party, all the hot chicks want to talk to me about voiced and voiceless changes. Even my hair has more body and more pep! Thanks, Verner!
-- Frank, Colorado Springs

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