Monday, September 29, 2008

Freaks and Monsters

Whenever I teach the medieval lit survey, I always have a theme. The problem with any medieval lit survey is that there's no way you can do everything important. Even if you do fifteen major works in a class (a prodigious number for a 15-week semester) ... well, there are far more than fifteen major works of medieval literature, aren't there? Having a theme keeps the class from feeling scattershot, and keeps me from feeling guilty about cutting so many important texts.

The last two times I taught the class, the theme was "Sex, Love, and Marriage in Medieval Literature," but frankly, I'm getting really sick of talking about sex in class.* I wanted to do either "Faith and Belief in Medieval Literature" or "War and Violence in Medieval Literature," but my students requested monsters, so monsters it will be.

The working theme, then, will be "Freaks and Monsters in Medieval Literature,"** which will give me a lot of choices of texts. One thing I worry about, though, is small texts -- the short stories, short poems, etc. For example, I can't very well teach the class without including "Bisclavret," but making them buy an entire volume of Marie de France for just one story doesn't seem cost-effective on an undergrad budget. I'm hoping to fulfill all the short texts in just 1-2 volumes.

So, does anyone out there know of any anthologies of medieval monster literature appropriate for undergrads (i.e., in translation)? I know JJ Cohen has a couple of volumes of medieval monster theory (which I'm obviously going to have to re-read), but I'm thinking of primary texts.

Surely with In the Middle and the Mearcstapa crowd, if there are any good anthologies out there, you folks would know about them.

*If you could send that sentence back in time for me to read when I was sixteen, I'd not have even been able to recognize that words could be put together to form such a thought.
** The running gag among the medieval-oriented students is that with that theme, I'll just point to myself and the lecture will be over. I told them I'll just bring a big mirror to class and let them gaze into it for their research.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Morning Medieval Miscellany

You can't be too thin, too rich, or too medieval.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Learn Old English with the Wordhoard: Verbs I

Now, on to verbs!

Our next two weeks, we’ll be focusing on verbs, found in here, and Drout here, here, here, here and here). We’re also continuing with Minitext B, though we’ll be moving on to Minitext C next time. Even if you don’t want to start working on the translation of Minitext C, Baker has an exercise involving identifying all the basic verb types. I recommend you try that.

Here’s your vocabulary quiz. As always, highlight the text for the answers:

durran … to dare
motan … must, to be allowed
gemunan … to remember
(ge)benugan … to be enough
þurfan … to need
unnan … to grant
don … to do
gan … to go
willan … will, to wish for, to desire
ascian … to ask
wepan … to weep
slæpan … to sleep
niman … to take
fon … to take
agan … to possess
hatan … to command, to be called
sprecan … to speak
þencan … to think
habban … to have, to hold
secgan … to say, to tell

Back to verbs again. All those verb paradigms you need to start memorizing can be very confusing. Don’t let them intimidate you! For now, just focus on three paradigms: the basic weak and strong verb paradigm found in table 7.1, and the beon paradigm found in table 7.4. The other paradigms are important, too, but they tend to follow along the same kinds of patterns suggested in table 7.1. The beon paradigm is, as Baker says, a mess, but ask any foreigner who’s had to learn Modern English and they’ll tell you that the to be paradigm for MnE is just as annoying. Unfortunately, you won’t get very far in OE without knowing how to use the be verb, so you’ll just have to suck it up and learn it.

As for my students, while they’re learning those new verb paradigms, they can expect to be tested on one last weak noun paradigm, 6.5, with nama, eage, and tunge. They’ll also be tested on some vocabulary – in this case, Adjective:

god … good
hwæt … vigorous
heard … hard, fierce
milde … kind
halig … holy
sweotol … clear
eald … old
geong … young
heah … high
lang … long
strang … strong
lytel … small, little
micel … large
yfel … bad
wis … wise

One really nice thing about those adjectives: a lot of modern cognates! So, until next time, your podcast commentary is below.

Update: This was posted late because of YouTube maintenance, so I'll be delaying the second post of the week by a day or so.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Ah, mornings, with all their miscellaneous medievaliciousness!
I'm running out the door now (Wednesday night -- this is a pre-scheduled post) to give a lecture on Tristan and Isolde (generally as a legend, not a particular version). My theme: Adultery is the best sex, at least as far as medieval lit is concerned. The theme is not to be taken as an ethical position!

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

Learn Old English with the Wordhoard: Delayed!

I've got the next "Learn Old English with the Wordhoard" all ready to go, but YouTube is undergoing maintenance, so I can't upload the video portion. If I still can't upload tomorrow, I'll do it without the video portion. Sorry for the delay.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Old English Paradigms Project

I had no idea this existed until it came across AnSaxNet today: The Online Old English Paradigms Project. I ran through it a couple of times, and it appears to work fine. If you're having trouble learning all those paradigms, this ought to help!

I do have one complaint -- it's extremely grumpy regarding diacritical marks. For example, I typed in Ic for the first person singular nominative, and it came back incorrect, with ïc coming back as the "correct" answer. First off, I've always been skeptical of the utility of using diacritical marks for OE, since they're entirely editorial intervention (they don't occur in the manuscripts), and unlike punctuation, don't replicate a commonly-used element of Modern English. Second, an umlaut? Yuck!

Still, when you've got yourself a quiz coming up, this could be a great tool ... if you ignore the insistence on umlauts.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Some medievalia for your morning pleasure:
Hey! I got caught up! I guess I'll also do those bits that weren't in blogs beginning A-H:
Hooray! Google Reader is empty!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Learn Old English with the Wordhoard: Finishing Nouns

Though I missed the post earlier this week, except for getting your new vocabulary words, you pretty much didn't need me. Mostly, you just had to keep working on those noun paradigms, and trying to translate Minitext A.

Here, then, are two vocabulary lists: Verbs III (the one I was supposed to give you last time), and Verbs IV (the one you were supposed to get this time).

Verbs III
niman ... to take (also note fon below)
sprecan ... to speak
bacan ... to bake
hatan ... to command, to be called
flowan ... to flow
seoðan ... to seethe
teon ... to accuse
seon ... to see
slean ... to slay
fon ... to take (also note niman above)
agan ... to possess
dugan ... to be good

Verbs IV
durran ... to dare
motan ... must, to be allowed
gemunan ... to remember
(ge)benugan ... to be enough
þurfan ... to need
unnan ... to grant
don ... to do
gan ... to go
willan ... will, to be willing, to wish, to desire
ascian ... to ask
wepan ... to weep
slæpan ... to sleep

Also, you should start on the Verbs Chapter (Baker here, and Drout here, here, here, here and here) for next time, and start translating Minitext B. Drout doesn't really have a lot more; he just subdivides it more.

Morning Medieval Miscellany, A-H

This Miscellany will not be complete, but will serve the purpose of clearing the pipes a little. Why am I so overworked? Because my Old English students are awesome. Seriously, they really are. If your graduate school gets any students from Troy applying in the next couple of years and you don't take them, you're missing out.

OK, enough of me taunting you about how awesome my students are while yours are the suckiest bunch of sucks to ever suck in Sucktown (to paraphrase Homer Simpson). Here are some other awesome things:
I've got to go now. As of this writing, that's everything from blogs with names beginning A-H. If your blog is at the beginning of the alphabet, try not to say anything interesting for the next couple of days.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Medieval NPR

Regular readers of the Wordhoard know of my deep contempt for NPR, and my continued distress that it's the best radio signal in this town. My take on it is similar to Matthew's from News Radio:

Matthew: I finally understand National Public Radio.
Dave: You understand everything they say?
Matthew: No. I understand it's a bunch of boring crap masquerading as bourgeois intellectual discourse and therefore not worth my time.

Nevertheless, was that the medievalist Virginia Blanton interviewed in this piece? If so, I'd have preferred to hear a comparison between Palin and Æðelðryð. Also, why aren't there action figures of St. Æðelðryð?

Feh ... Falling Behind

No "Learn Old English with the Wordhoard" yesterday, and no Miscellany for about a week. I've been overworked and am falling a bit behind. Last night, I went to bed about five hours earlier than usual, a sure sign I'm burning that candle too brightly, too fast.

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the LOEwtWH, nor about the Miscellany, nor even about arranging the Nokes Prize for Medievalist Writing (or whatever I'm gonna call it the Noksies). Just please have a little patience while I catch my breath.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Harry and Orion, Eald Englisc Leorneras

This week's Easter egg:

In the video below, my son says three sentences in Old English. In order to get the extra credit for this video, you must transcribe what the boy says, type it in Old English, and then type out a translation. Handwritten submissions will not be accepted.

Note that you will probably have to use "insert symbol" to find any special characters, and spelling will count. That first word will be masculine, so keep that in mind for spelling.

I believe my son now has the world's record for youngest recorded speaker of Old English on YouTube.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Learn Old English with the Wordhoard: Nouns III

Does it feel good to be translating, finally, after all these weeks? We're still doing nouns, so once again review the nouns chapters of Baker and Drout (Strong Nouns, Weak Nouns, and Minor Declensions). You should now be able to reproduce your demonstrative pronoun paradigms without using your magic sheet. Even though it seems tendious, believe me, knowing those paradigms will make translation a lot easier! One of my students has even posted a little advice on how to deal with all these paradigms.

OK, here's your quiz of your new verbs, as well as a few review words. Notice how useful these verbs are -- many of them will come up a great deal in the translations we do this semester. As always, simply highlight the quiz to see the hidden answers.

fremman … to do
helpan … to help
beon … to be
cunnan … to know how to
magan … to be able to, may
sculan … to be obliged to, must
witan … to know
sceþþan … to injure
herian … to praise
hælan … to heal
lufian … to love
cwellan … to kill
engel … angel
heafod … head
sawol … soul
hæle … man, warrior
mægþ … maiden
eage … eye
tunge … tongue
þing … thing

You should work on finishing your translation of the first six verses of the OE translation of Psalm I. If you don't have the book, here it is:

1] Eadig byð se wer þe ne gæð on geþeaht unrihtwisra, ne on þam wege ne stent synfulra, ne on heora wolbærendum setle ne sitt; 2] Ac his willa byð on godes æ, and ymb his æ he byð smeagende dæges and nihtes. 3] Him byð swa þam treowe þe byð aplantod neah wætera rynum, Þæt sylð his wæstmas to rihtre tide, and his leaf and his blæda ne fealwiað, ne ne seariað, swa byð þam men þe we ær ymbspræcon; eall him cymð to gode þæt þæt he deð. 4] Ac þa unrihtwisan ne beoð na swylce, ne him eac swa ne limpð, ac hi beoð duste gelicran þonne hit wind toblæwð. 5] Þy ne arisað þa unrihtwisan on domes dæg, ne þa synfullan ne beoð on geþeahte þæra rihtwisena. 6] Forþam God wat hwylcne weg þa rihtwisan geearnedon, ac þa unrihtwisan cumað to witum.

I'll repeat that first verse again both over and under our podcast for this time, because I'll be referring to it and giving you little translation clues. Below you'll find your new vocabulary words, followed by the podcast. Don't let the translation become a horrible chore -- do it bit by bit every day, and remember that you're now entering a very exclusive fraternity, the Siblinghood* of Old English Readers!

Verbs II

secan … to seek
þencan … to think
smeagan … to ponder
habban … to have, to hold
libban … to live
secgan … to say, to tell
hycgan … to think, to intend
writan … to write
ceosan … to choose
lucan … to lock
singan … to sing
hweorfan … to turn, to change, to go
stelan … to steal

1] Eadig byð se wer þe ne gæð on geþeaht unrihtwisra, ne on þam wege ne stent synfulra, ne on heora wolbærendum setle ne sitt;

1] Eadig byð se wer þe ne gæð on geþeaht unrihtwisra, ne on þam wege ne stent synfulra, ne on heora wolbærendum setle ne sitt;

*Neuter plural, so no angry e-mails about using the word "fraternity!"

Learn Old English Podcast Coming Later

I've fallen a bit behind with the search for Harry and the deadline for my students' abstracts. My daughter has asked that I not podcast at night while she's trying to sleep (her bedroom is right next to my study), so I didn't do it last night. I'll do it later today. It's just mostly going to be walking through part of the translation.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Harry Returns!

This morning, Harry was back in the yard, after three days of being gone! He seemed a little thin, but wasn't immediately hungry. Nor was he filthy dirty or hurt.

My best guess: Harry ran off to play in the woods and get the smell of shampoo off of him. It started raining, and he took shelter under someone's porch, carport, etc. Whoever it was saw a dog with mange and no collar, and took him in, explaining why he's not starving nor dirty. It probably took him three days to escape, but Harry is a real escape artist, so they couldn't hold him forever.

Here's the new mood in my house this morning:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Harry, Come Home!

This blog has a much greater readership outside Troy than in Troy, but I promised my son I'd get the word out:

Our dog Harry went missing on Tuesday. We had just given him a bath -- he's had a mange problem since we got him from the animal rescue a few years ago, and he needs a special shampoo -- and so, after the bath, he wasn't wearing his collar. Therefore, the missing dog is mangy and without a collar; he'll look just like a stray without an owner.

He hasn't been brought into the local vets, nor has the city found him, so we're relying on the kindness of strangers. If you've seen him, beyond my gratitude, we're offering a reward.

I don't have any good digital photos of Harry -- most of them have him looking away like in this post -- but he's a very normal-looking Jack Russell terrier, white with brown spots, and with a few thin spots in his hair.

Just to give you a sense of the mood around our house, imagine my son in the position of Charlie Brown in this video.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Morning Medieval Miscellany

This Miscellany is brought to you courtesy of about 70 ungraded composition papers. I just haven't the heart.
  • A Commonplace Book has accounts of two different 15th-century fights. OK, technically not just two fights, but there are two posts, anyway.
  • Got Medieval tells of the spiritual dangers of produce, and an Mmm...Marginalia involving monkeys.
  • Heavenfield discusses Rhun ap Urien of Rheged, who apparently was important in both the history of Northumbria, and in the annals of "Dudes with Weird Names."
  • The Weird Medieval Animal of the Week is the pelican, and after reading about that bird you may understand better why it's on the Louisiana state flag as a tribute to the sacrificial character of the residents.
  • I'm submitting a paper to the first session listed here ... when I get around to turning the full paper into an abstract. Am I the only one that finds that harder than going the other direction?
  • Heroic Dreams not only has a post about a catapult, but also has two mead-making videos and a list of many more! Anyone who becomes a budding mazer from watching these owes me a finder's fee of one bottle.
  • In the Middle has a post about queer movie medievalism.
  • Nic D'Alessio has a post building on the comments of this ITM post. I really need to get around to posting about that.
  • Medieval Material Culture Blog has an update with exhibits all over the place ... but sadly, none near me.
  • Modern Medieval has a job posting for "Medieval Peninsular or Spanish American Colonial Studies." Get get that job, medievalists!
  • I'm still trying to figure out if this is or is not a good way to pick up women. I'm thinking it might not be a good method, but at least screens for the right kind of women.
  • Dr. Virago has a discussion about what medievalists look like. My silly comments aside, it is obvious: They look like us.
  • Despite my dislike for the series (both book and film), here's a link to a post about the latest Harry Potter film.
  • The Medieval Historical Fiction Novel of the Week is Ann Baer's Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman. Steven Till also has a post about today (er, yesterday) in medieval history, and one explaining the Canonical Hours. Though the latter is not strictly medieval, that's the kind of background a good protestant boy like me had to study before understanding what was going on in some medieval texts. Even non-ecclesiastical texts tend to talk about the time of day in terms of the canonical division of hours.
  • Magistra et Mater has more about Hincmar. I need to go back and read all those posts carefully ... they seem really interesting, but I've been skimming them due to lack of time. It seems to me they deserve more attention.
Finally, I cannot begin to tell you how happy the very existence of Anglo-Saxon Aloud: Greatest Hits makes me. I only wish Michael Drout were two people so he could issue a reunion album in a few years.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Learn Old English with the Wordhoard: Nouns II

Are you gaining confidence yet? I sure hope so! My students in class don't seem to be able to see the progress they're making, but I can see it. Let's start off with our vocabulary quiz. As always, do the quiz, then highlight it to see the answers:

sunu … son -- Note that this is not the same as sunne.
fæder … father
modor … mother
broðor … brother
sweostor … sister
dohtor … daughter
lamb … lamb -- OK, these have been pretty easy up 'til now.
hæle … man, warrior
mægþ … maiden
sæ … sea
hors … horse
sunne … sun-- Note that this is not the same as sunu.
here … hostile army
searu … skill
beadu … battle
heafod … head
stan … stone-- if you watched the video already, I gave this one away.
giefu … gift -- And I gave this one away too.
sorg … sorrow -- Doesn't "sorg" sound like a sci-fi villain?
nama … name

Let's put that noun knowledge to use. You're going to want to review the nouns chapters of Baker and Drout (Strong Nouns, Weak Nouns, and Minor Declensions). In the video below, I talk about some of the patterns you'll be seeing that will make learning all these nouns a lot easier. We'll be working on nouns next week too, so don't worry if you haven't quite gotten a good grasp on it yet.

We're doing our first translation! Hurray! It's Minitext A, at the end of the pronouns chapter in Baker. Unfortunately, the page seems to be down on Baker's website, so if you don't have the book, here's what we're translating. It's an Old English prose translation of Psalm I. Try to do it without looking at your Bible, but if you get really, really stuck, go ahead and peek; next time, you won't have that option!

1] Eadig byð se wer þe ne gæð on geþeaht unrihtwisra, ne on þam wege ne stent synfulra, ne on heora wolbærendum setle ne sitt; 2] Ac his willa byð on godes æ, and ymb his æ he byð smeagende dæges and nihtes. 3] Him byð swa þam treowe þe byð aplantod neah wætera rynum, Þæt sylð his wæstmas to rihtre tide, and his leaf and his blæda ne fealwiað, ne ne seariað, swa byð þam men þe we ær ymbspræcon; eall him cymð to gode þæt þæt he deð. 4] Ac þa unrihtwisan ne beoð na swylce, ne him eac swa ne limpð, ac hi beoð duste gelicran þonne hit wind toblæwð. 5] Þy ne arisað þa unrihtwisan on domes dæg, ne þa synfullan ne beoð on geþeahte þæra rihtwisena. 6] Forþam God wat hwylcne weg þa rihtwisan geearnedon, ac þa unrihtwisan cumað to witum.

Special thanks to J. Richard Stracke of Augusta State, whose transcription I've used here.

Just use your glossary and dictionary to work your way through the best you can; you're more prepared than you think!

Also, for next time learn your first list of verbs. You'll be seeing some of these a lot:

Verbs I
fremman … to do
helpan … to help
beon … to be
cunnan … to know how to
magan … to be able to, may
sculan … to be obliged to, must
witan … to know
sceþþan … to injure
herian … to praise
hælan … to heal
lufian … to love
cwellan … to kill

Below is the video supplemental. That's three takes into it. If there are any errors, feel free to mention them in the comments thread.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Breaking Political News!

Apparently, I'm under consideration for a high-ranking position in any McCain/Palin administration. Don't believe me? Much of the team is already assembed.

h/t Frederick

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Wow, it's been a long time since I did a Miscellany. Some posts got so old I just deleted them. Here's a bit of repentance:
One last thing: Someone left a link to their blog Paternosters in a really old comment, and I missed it. Sometimes I overlook comments on older posts; my apologies. Also, I'm adding Hammered Out Bits, a blog about viking age blacksmithing. Thanks to Steve Muhlberger for pointing out the latter.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Job Posting

My pal Mark Aune asked me to post this job ad here for a tenure-track appointment in Linguistics, Medieval Lit, and HEL at the confusingly-named California University of Pennsylvania.

I can promise you that if you get that job you'll have at least one really cool colleague!

Assistant Professor of English, with demonstrable expertise in Linguistics, Medieval Literature, and History of the English Language.

This is a tenure- track appointment. Salary is competitive and commensurate with academic preparation and experience. An excellent fringe benefits package is included. The position requires teaching four courses per semester (12 credit hours). The successful candidate can anticipate introductory-level literature courses and composition as well. Additional responsibilities include student advising, participation on department and university committees, and possible involvement in off-campus or evening/weekend teaching or distance education. Applicants with Ph.D. in hand are preferred, but those with degrees earned by May 2009 will be considered. Candidates must be fluent in the English language, able to communicate well, perform well in a teaching demonstration and successfully complete an interview. To be considered, applicants must submit in hard copy all of the following before an on-campus interview is granted: full curriculum vitae; official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (unofficial transcripts are acceptable for review purposes); letter of application highlighting the applicants’ qualifications and teaching interests; names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of three professional references who have current knowledge of the applicant’s abilities as a teacher.

Deadline: November 21, 2008. For additional information, applicants should consult the university website. Veterans should forward a copy of form DD214 to the Office of Social Equity, Box 9, California University of PA, 250 University Ave., California, PA 15419. All other application materials should be sent to the department search committee:

Search Committee
English Department
California University of PA
California, PA 15419
Phone: (724) 938-4070

Faculty Position Announcement No.: 362008

Learn Old English with the Wordhoard: More Pronouns

After several requests, I've decided to give supplemental podcasting a try. Below you'll see the video supplemental introducing next week's lesson. It was made with speed and convenience in mind, so the production quality is pretty low -- just my web cam with no editing. I'm hoping to get lots of good feedback so that after all is said and done, we can archive well-scripted high-quality videos on the MediEvolution site. Comments (even negative feedback) are welcome.

I decided to start it here because there isn't really all that much to explain. Right now, students should be memorizing those pronoun paradigms. All we did in class this Thursday was drill on those. Yes, it's tedious (and the single most boring part of learning OE), but I'm afraid it's necessary. If it makes you feel any better, sometimes I forget parts of these paradigms myself; teaching them helps me remember what's been caught in the cobwebs of my memory.

Don't forget to do the "First and Second Person Pronouns" sheet -- it will help you learn these. Try doing all those other exercises in the Pronouns section. It might feel kind of elementary-school to do worksheets, but they'll help you learn all this essential stuff.

Here's your vocabulary quiz for this week. As always, just highlight the selection to see the answers:

engel ... angel
heafod ... head
sawol ... soul
dæg ... day
æsc ... ash tree
geat ... gate
here ... hostile army
searu ... skill
beadu ... battle
hand ... hand
gehwa ... each, everyone
hwelc ... any, anyone
gehwelc ... each
hwæþer ... either, both
giefu ... gift
sorg ... sorrow
þes ... this, these
þis ... this, these
þeos ... this, these
þas ... this, these

Read this hidden note after you test: Hey, did you notice I basically took those last four from one of your pronoun paradigms? Of course you did! You're so smart!

For next time, read the Nouns chapters of Baker and Drout (Strong Nouns, Weak Nouns, and Minor Declensions), and focus on learning those paradigms Baker has (Drout's are just as good, but your vocab lists are keyed to Baker's paradigms).

Here is the Nouns III vocabulary list. You'll find most of these words pretty easy once you say them aloud:

sunu ... son
fæder ... father
modor ... mother
broðor ... brother
sweostor ... sister
dohtor ... daughter
lamb ... lamb
hæle ... man, warrior
mægþ ... maiden
sæ ... sea
hors ... horse
sunne ... sun

OK, that's it for this time. Let my know if the off-the-cuff podcast below was helpful, confusing, or just superfluous.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

BBC's new Merlin

I choose to believe BBC's new Merlin won't be stupid. Once again, hope triumphs over experience.

Huzzah for hope!

Learn Old English with the Wordhoard: Pronouns

Paradigms! Paradigms! Paradigms!

Right about now, you’re looking back at the Pronouns I vocabulary list and saying to yourself, “Ooooh, I see. That’s why we started out with these words.” You’re also probably wracking your brain because you’ve got to memorize tables 5.1-5.7.

For now, just focus on tables 5.1-5.5. Yes, you do have to learn all these paradigms. I know it seems hard, but just focus on learning them one at a time. After you learn the first one, you’ll start to see patterns emerging as you learn subsequent paradigms.

In order to help yourself learn them, your quiz today is going to be pretty easy. Just fill in the following paradigms for 1st Person, 2nd Person, 3rd Person Masculine, 3rd Person Neuter, and 3rd Person Plural. You don’t have to do it from memory, but you can’t use your book. Instead, use your magic sheet … all the answers are on the bottom row.


Obviously, the purpose of this exercise is to learn to use the sheet. I’m not going to bother posting the answers here, because they are found in your chapter. Also, don’t print out a copy of the paradigm – handwrite it every time yourself. By writing it out each time, you’ll gain familiarity with the way these paradigms work.

Once you’ve copied them out, it’s time to put these to use. Pick a text – almost any text, and practice your pronunciation. However, after every sentence, go back through that sentence and look at the pronouns. My class picked Judith. The first full sentence runs like this:

Heo ðar ða gearwe funde mundbyrd æt ðam mæran Ðeodne þa heo ahte mæste þearfe, hyldo þæs hehstand Deman, þæt he hie wið þæs hehstan brogan gefriþode, frymða Waldend.

OK, now look at those pronouns. Even though you might not be able to translate the whole sentence yet, there are still a few things you can work out. The first word, Heo, has to be feminine singular nominative. In other words, it means “She,” and is the subject. Now, look at that next ðam. Until you are ready to start translating the context, this one is going to be ambiguous, but it is definitely the demonstrative pronoun, “the.” Looking at the magic sheet, you can see that ðam can be masculine singular dative, neuter singular dative, or plural dative. Until we understand the nouns and other context better, we don’t know for sure if it is singular or plural, but we do know that it is dative.

Just go through any reading working out the various possibilities for the pronouns. For many of them, you’ll not yet be able to know for sure if it is one thing or another, but you’ll be able to eliminate what it isn’t. At this point, it isn’t important to figure out the definite right answer (though there is one, and as you get more advanced, you’ll be able to figure out what that is), but it is instead important to figure out what the options are.

For next time, no new vocabulary. Just memorize, memorize, memorize. Eventually, these paradigms will have to become second nature.

Why the "Learn Old English" Post Is Late

Usually, I try to get the "Learn Old English" posts up by Tuesday and Thursday nights, on the theory that those following along in groups probably meet the next day.

I haven't had a chance to write that post (which is actually pretty time-consuming) because I was ever-so-slightly ill, which just manifested itself in 4 hours worth of naps followed by going to bed early and getting up late.

In my waking hours, though, I've been plotting with my undergrads to get them to academic conferences. The closest one in both time and space is the Regional Medievalisms conference in Macon, Georgia October 9th-11th.* The next after this is the PCA/ACA conference in New Orleans, April 8th-11th. And of course, while it would be nice to plan ahead, undergrads can't really work on the "let's do this in a year or two" slow cycle of scholarly work, so it's rush-rush-rush and push-push-push.

The students have been asking for advice on how to do a conference as an undergrad, and I keep reassuring them that I'll be there holding their hands, that I'll make sure their papers aren't embarrassing, etc. I would like to throw the question out there to all the Wordhoarders. If you could offer any advice about attending academic conferences as an undergrad, what would it be?

*Apparently when I told Jennifer Lynn Jordan I wasn't going to this conference, I lied. I'll have to make up for it by asking a softball question in her session and buying her a drink. Or maybe I'll buy her a softball and ask for a drink.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Back From Dragon*Con

I'm back from Dragon*Con, without much to report. With the exception of my own session, the Tolkien/Lewis Breakfast Roundtable, all of my own plans fell through -- in fact, I didn't attend any other panels the whole time, though it was because everything that was going wrong suddenly went right.

Next year, I'll be a good boy and attend more panels ... and to my surprise, there will be a next time, as I've already pre-registered and booked my hotel room. I had assumed I would be miserable the whole time. One by one, people e-mailed me to say they weren't coming. I discovered that my panel was up against the parade, and so would be poorly-attended. The fellow I was sharing a hotel room with backed out, leaving me with the full bill.

It didn't turn out that way at all. An old friend I haven't seen for a decade showed up, so I spent the entire Con with him and his friends (explaining why I skipped all the other sessions). My session was full, despite the parade, and the questions were pretty good. Finally, my friend's boss needed a place to stay, so the hotel bill was split after all. A really nice time.

Since I now know I'm returning next year, I'll not only make myself available for a panel, I might even consider putting one together and pitching it to one of the fan tracks. The crowd that attended our panel asked really smart and informed questions, which is good, because I was worried I'd get a lot of questions like, "If Sauron fought Aslan, but Sauron had the Ring of Doom, who would win?"* Fortunately, no questions quite that silly, and only a few with an agenda. For a guy like me who's always seeking out interested folks outside of academe, Dragon*Con was prime hunting ground.

If you're interested in doing a medieval-themed panel at Dragon*Con next year, let me know and we'll see if we can put something together. If you're an academic who has never been to a popular convention before, I would recommend you hold off on doing a panel until you've had a chance to attend another convention and see what they're like -- conventions and conferences aren't the same thing, and neither are the panels!

I'm despairing over the next Miscellany ... so much stuff built up in only a couple of days. Maybe I'll just clear everything and start anew.

*Answer: Sauron would appear to win, but then Aslan would come back from the dead and cast Sauron and all of his followers into Mount Doom. Duh.