Old English

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Old English is an early form of the english language that was spoken in England around 1000 years ago. It is someties called anglo-saxon. Old english was spoken from around 450AD until some time after the Norman invasion of england (around 1066AD). Most Old English texts are now transliterated rather than being produced in period typefaces.

Major differences from modern English

  • Different sound values for letters.
  • Different grammar (including cases: nominative, dative, genitive and accusative.)

Samples of Old English

Beowulf (circa 900AD)

Beowulf is a traditional heroic epic poem in Old English alliterative verse. At 3182 lines, it is far more substantial than any similar work in the language, representing about 10% of the extant Anglo-Saxon corpus. The poem is untitled in the manuscript, but has been known as Beowulf since the early 19th century.

The Project Gutenberg e-text of Beowulf can be found at http://library.adelaide.edu.au/etext/pg/etext97/bwulf10.txt

The lords prayer (showing change over time)

Many early examples of old english (and other period languages) are of a religious nature. The Lord's Prayer is a good example of the change in English over time.

Dated 1611 AD.

Our father which art in heauen,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heauen.
Giue us this day our daily bread.
And forgiue us our debts as we forgiue our debters.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliuer us from euill.
Amen.

Dated 1384 AD.


yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred.
And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euyl.

Dated circa 1000 AD.