Textcriticism of tOur Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10: Thy kingdom come.Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10: Thy kingdom come.he English Biblical materials (WAS: Re: [textualcriticism] Re: Oldest Example of Written English Discovered in Church?) Warning! Longish!
- --- In email@example.com, "Larry Swain" wrote:
>> Before responding to the below, I have some information on yourDaniel replied:
>> previous remarks about Nerses to type up: in the end it won't
>> change the practical nature of your assumption, but it was fun
>> for me to think and find information outside my geographical
>> place and beyond the languages I usually work in.<<
> ??? I don't know of any mention of Nerses on this forum since 2005.<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/textualcriticism/message/5582
That looks to be from you and refers to usage by Nerses of Lampron
unless by Nerses of Lampron the message refers to someone else?
The date is Feb 23, 2010.
>> I suppose I should query just what is meant about the statementDaniel responded:
>> that "Except that the "English" of his day was not the same
>> language as what we now use." It is the same language, just at
>> a different stage in history. Yes, it has changed significantly
>> in the intervening 1400 years or so, but is still recognizably
>> the same language.<<
> I beg to differ.<Well, it is certainly your prerogative to do so, though I don't
know why you would.
>> Old English--and there are several distinct literary dialectsIn the spirit of full disclosure, I'm not only a medievalist, but
>> thereof--is not any more recognizable as being the same language
>> as English than is Medieval Dutch.<<
an Anglo-Saxonist. I suppose it is possible that I don't know my
own field and the language forms I work in as well as you know my
field, but I hope you will forgive me if I don't take that as a
Re: dialects of Old English: there are four that survive in the
written record: Northumbrian, Mercian, Kentish, and West Saxon, the
latter by far the majority.
Old English is recognizable as being the same language as modern
English, whether one measures it by phonology, syntax, or lexicon.
Orthography has changed in some cases, but not unrecognizably so,
and orthography is by convention anyway, so indicates little about
the language itself. The more familiar one is with the stages of
English, the more the connection is readily apparent.
Old English Lord's Prayer from Liuzza's edition of the West Saxon Gospels:
Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum; Si þin nama gehalgod to becume
þin rice gewurþe ðin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum. urne
gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa
we forgyfað urum gyltendum and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge ac alys
us of yfele soþlice. (Corpus Christi College MS 140, ed. Liuzza
With a modicum of training, anyone who can read Shakespeare or the
King James/Douay Rheims translations of the Bible can understand
this; there are a few runic based letter forms (the ash, the thorn,
the eth), a few words that don't survive to the early modern
period, but nothing else is strange: the words are the essentially
the same, the phonology particularly of the consonants remains the
same, some of the vowels will have shifted in the Great Vowel
Shift, but that doesn't inhibit comprehension any. The syntax is
Compare one Wycliffe version, some 4 centuries later:
Oure fadir that art in heuenes, halewid be thi name; thi kyndoom
come to; be thi wille don in erthe as in heuene: gyue to us this
dai oure breed ouer othir substaunce; and forgyue to us oure
dettis, as we forgyuen to oure dettouris; and lede us not in to
temptacioun, but delyuere us fro yuel.
Some change, but nothing so drastic as to make this more
comprehensible. Certainly closer to modern orthography, a change
in the forms of be and become and done. But the changes aren't any
more significant than between Herodotus and Mark's Gospel--easily
recognizable as different stages of the same language.
Now let's compare another Middle English version, a poetic one,
from a manuscript circa 1300-1350:
Oure fader in hevene riche,
pi name be haliid ever i-liche,
pu bringe us to pi michil blisce,
pi wille (to wirche pu us wisse),
Als hit is in hevene i-do
Ever in eorpe ben it al so,
pat . . . bred . . .
pu send hit ous pis ilke day,
Forgive ous alle pat we havip don,
Als we forgivet uch opir man,
Ne lete us falle in no fondinge,
Ak scilde us fro pe foule pinge. Amen.
Let's move a little earlier to the 12th century, Pope Adrian:
Ure fadyr in heaven riche/thy name be hallyed ever lich
thou bring us thy michell blisse
Als it in heaven ydoe/Evar in erthe beene it also.
That holy bread that lasteth ay/thou send it ous this ilke dai
That's enough to illustrate. Differences yes, languages change, but
certainly not like it's another language.
Regrettably I can't compare this text to Middle Dutch. I don't do
any work in those dialects we group together and call Middle Dutch
at the moment, and I know of no version of a Middle Dutch Lord's
Prayer as a result. I have worked some in closely related
languages, the psalms in Old Low Fraconian and the one phrase from
what is posited as Old West Fraconian, and Old Saxon as well as Old
Norse and Old High German and Middle Low German languages. There
are of course similarities since they are related languages, but
from the texts I've looked at, I can't see that the claim that Old
English is in the same relationship to Middle or Modern English as
Middle Dutch is, and I'd like to ask you to demonstrate that.
>> The conflagration of the Norman invasion killed Old English as aExcept that it didn't. Yes, you've reproduced the typical
>> living language, and what finally emerged from its ashes was a
>> language that owed as much to Norman French as it did to Old
reconstruction that every school child is taught about the period;
regrettably,as with most such thumbnail sketches, this
reconstruction is so general as to distort the actual picture. Old
English continues to be used and written well into the 12th century
(the Peterborough Chronicle for example); and in many other
manuscripts Old English texts, such as homilies, show up unchanged
from Old English except for some changes in orthography (such as OE
initial ge- on verb forms [pronounced like ye-with short e] with a
y- or i- [geclepod>icleped or yclepod]); see for example the
Aelfrician and Wulfstanian texts edited in Oxford, Bodleian
Library, Bodley ms. 343 among others.
The first "middle English" overlaps late literary "old English":
that is to say: Middle English didn't emerge out of the Norman
Conquest nor did it emerge as a literary language decades following
1066. It is simply the continuation of Old English. There's a
theory with a great deal of explanatory power that argues that
Middle English is the spoken speech of the late Anglo-Saxon period,
coming into its own as a literary form in the twelfth century and
that late Old English is simply a literary language...much like the
difference between "vulgar" Latin and the various incarnations of
literary Latin. In any case, the situation is more a continuation
than a death of one with a later emergence by the other.
> For convention, we refer to it by the old name, but it is in factan entirely different language.<
Well, answering that first part would take me far afield of the
list, a limit already being stretched. Suffice it to say that "Old
English" is a relatively new fangled term rather than hoary
convention. Tolkien famously resisted the term! But while
resisting fully recognized it as an early stage in the language.
But it is in fact *NOT* a different language. Take a look at any
standard History of the English Language (I'll be happy to suggest
some if you are interested) and you'll find that the author(s) does
not start in Latin, French, or even German other than to discuss
general Indo-European language families. But the first section
will be Old English. Look at any standard anthology of medieval
English literature: it too begins, and has for a long time, with
Old English literature. It has only been very recently that
editors have felt the need to include translations of Old French,
Latin, Irish, and Welsh literatures. But even when they do, they
specify them by language, and Old English is English literature in
contrast to literature produced in England. These are just
illustrations. Much more could be said about the relationship of
what we call Old and Middle English as being the same language.
The divisions though are rather arbitrary: "old" English didn't
cease because the Normans showed up and "middle" English didn't
arise because people were so impacted by French in the first
century after the Conquest. Language changes.
> It would be like calling Latin Old Italian. Old English is noActually no. Calling Latin Old Italian for one thing is working
> more intelligible to us than any modern Teutonic language, and
> less so than modern Romance languages, due to the shared Latin
> heritage of the French half of our language.<
backwards from modern manifestations to previous stages. In the
case of Old English however this is the opposite of the historical
situation. You see, those Anglo-Saxons whom you claim spoke a
different language called that language English, and linguists and
philologists and text critics know that the earlier form transforms
into the latter....older form of English into a later form of
English...same language, same name going forward rather than
starting from now and going back.
That's the first reason why the analogy you state doesn't work.
The second is that vulgar Latin morphed into multiple modern
languages. I suppose we could refer to Italian as Italinate modern
Latin and Gaulish modern Latin and Iberian modern Latin, but that
seems unnecessary. And let's not forget that it is fairly recent
that the Italians, Romanians, and Italians stopped calling their
language "Roman": Romance or the English Romanish is the name of
French and Italian in medieval and early modern texts. Ask any
Roman on the street what language he or she speaks and they'll tell
you it's the language of the Romans. But we can't call all the
Romance languages the same name: so French is that spoken in
There is no native English speaker I've ever encountered who can
sit down and read a French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian or other
Romance language newspaper or other text without training. Perhaps
there are some. But French and Latin words borrowed into English
do not give the native English speaker facility in Romance
languages anymore than the fact that over 90% of the most common
words the English speaker uses on a daily basis come from native
Old English gives the speaker immediate ability in Old English,
Middle English, or other Germanic language. One of the first things
one learns especially when studying French for example is to beware
of cognates and borrowings because they can be deceptive and
mislead the student.
Little training is necessary to understand Old English. In the
typical OE course, it is a matter of 2 or 3 class periods before
the student is engaged in dealing with real, unedited Old English
texts. Not adjusted for students...a typical text. This isn't
true of the English speaker encountering either a Romance or
Germanic language where it typically takes months of training and
practice before the student encounters all but the simplest of real
texts in the new language. The difference is simply that Old
English is just an earlier form of the same language that the
native speaker already is familiar with: German or French isn't.
>> English emerged as a written language long before that! IDaniel responded in part:
>> mentioned above the runic inscriptions on the crosses...the
>> language is English, as well as the Franks Casket. The
>> Northumbrian version of Bede's Death Song and of Caedmon's Hymn
>> are both eighth century, and it is agreed generally that Genesis
>> A and Beowulf are both likely eighth century works and at least
>> in the case of the former was written down. There are other
>> literary works in English from before the Conquest, both prose
>> and poetry, but too many to go into here. <<
> I don't agree on a post-invasion date for the composition ofBeowulf, but that's quite beside the point.<
Interesting. I'm not sure what you mean on a "post-invasion" date.
I suppose you mean the so-called Anglo-Saxon invasion typically
dated to the mid-fifth century. Without getting too far afield and
discussing evaluations of the traditional picture of "Dark Age"
Britain, historical people and events mentioned in the poem date to
about 520-25; a principle of dating and textual criticism is that a
text cannot be older than the most recent historical events it
mentions. This means that the poem as is cannot be older than early
sixth century...a century after the so-called invasion, making it
"post-invasion." There are other considerations for thinking the
poem as we have it to be seventh-eighth centuries rather than early
sixth, some of them even linguistic, but textual criticism of
Beowulf is too far beyond this list.
If by some outside chance you mean by "post-invasion" the Norman
invasion, I agree: Beowulf isn't post-invasion since the manuscript
in which it comes down to us (Cotton Vitellius A.xv) dates to circa
1000, it pre-dates that invasion.
>> You refer to Old English; I refer to Middle English,<<In your original post you referred to ENGLISH and made claims about
ENGLISH and when it appeared as a literary language leaving out the
entire pre-Norman period. This is no doubt based on your claim
that the language of the Anglo-Saxon period is a different language
altogether from "Middle" English, but nonetheless, the first
writing in English in a church context would be in the Anglo-Saxon
period rather than the post-Norman.
> ...(middle English)which I can read with littledifficulty because it is only an early version of my native
Good. Though I rather suspect, and feel free to correct me if I am
wrong, that what you really mean is that you can read a modern
edition with marginal glossing of Middle English most likely of
14th century prose or poetry largely from university or London area
authors (Wycliffe, Chaucer, Gower etc)who did so much to establish
a literary language that has influenced all subsequent English
language, both in literary terms and even in spoken speech. I
think you would find an unedited text, or a diplomatic edition, or
a text written in one of the several non-London, non-midlands
dialects much more challenging, much less puzzling out a
manuscript. Perhaps I'm wrong, but most who don't regularly engage
in the period usually
mean when they say how easy Middle English is that they are reading
an edition with glossing of one of the late 14th or 15th century
texts, so I apologize in advance if my assumption is wrong.
Daniel here pontificates:
> In fact, the earliest.<Well, no...middle English is *NOT* the earliest version of English.
I'm not sure what to do or say to convince you: don't take my
word for it. There are any number of resources to check from
histories of the language to the HEL-L list or the Humanist Ling
list and page to...well, here's a basic article I sometimes assign
from the Merriam-Webster dictionary site:
>> As far as I know, the oldestextant mss containing Middle English date to a century after the
Conquest, about the time of the last Old Enlish document.<<
As someone familiar with textual criticism, the equation of
manuscript age and age of contained text is somewhat surprising.
The important document is the Peterborough Chronicle. The first
continuation of the Chronicle covering the years 1122-31 and
written probably very shortly after (1130s), some 60 years after
the Conquest begins to show the transition from Old to Middle
English in vocabulary and word form: demonstrating that it is a
case of transition, not death vs. rebirth with a "new" language.
Old English as a spoken and literary language transitions into
Middle English...spoken probably before even the Conquest, literary
after. Both continue throughout the 12th century, with Old English
texts only being slightly updated but still used and being read as
English throughout that century. Overlap, change....the claim that
Middle English is the earliest English is unsustainable on any
> Middle English, which of course was the Modern English of the time, wasfirst used officially in England in 1258, in connexion with the
Provisions of Oxford. <
William's Charter to the City of London was in English, c. 1067.
The Provisions is the first after that, in large part because de
Montfort wanted to reach all levels of society. But so what?
Official language and proclamations tell us little about the state
of a language or its speakers: take Latin in the Roman empire. Or
even Latin and Greek together: yet local languages survive.
> It was another century after that beforeEnglish came into widespread literary use, and it had changed
enough in that century that the English used in the English Bill of
Rights and the Declaration of Independence is not materially
different, even in spelling.<
Well, no....the Provisions are 1258. We certainly have a lot of
English works before this: biblical bits, saint's lives, religious
works like homilies, Ancrene Wisse, and so on. But from 1250 on,
there is an increase, decidedly....long before the mid-1350s (i. e.
a century after the Provisions). As for the changes between the
fourteenth and eighteenth century in English, there's the Great
Vowel Shift, the shifts of short u and a, weakening of unaccented
vowels, further reduction of inflections, changes in the pronouns,
development of progressive verb forms, progressive passives to name
some of the more significant changes in the period you name. As
for orthography: Oure fadir that art in heuenes, halewid be thi
name; thi kyndoom come to..." from Wycliffe, late 14th (Middle
English) and let's look at KJV, early 17th: Our Father which art in
heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come." I see a number of
orthographic differences there. There are some very significant
changes in the language between Chaucer and the late 18th century.
I again reiterate that consulting a standard History of the English
language would be most helpful.
> Only in recent centuries have wedecided that what we use now should get the name Modern English,
and that mostly because the development o f the printing press, and
the distribution of the Bible, have fixed literary English more
than any previous events.<
Well, since the word modern in this sense means "current", calling
it "modern" English isn't really such a big decision...and while
the word didn't exist in English, the attitude that the current
language is, well, "modern" or current is well-fixed at whatever
period. We call the language from the Renaissance to the present
"modern" because of phonological, morphological, syntactic, and
lexical reasons that tie the state of the language in the five
centuries or so together more than with the Middle English period.
>> As for Middle English after the Conquest, the earliest MiddleDaniel replied:
>> English is simply a continuation of Old English practices.
>> Poems such as "The Grave" and the last entries in the
>> Peterborough Chronicle, Proverbs of Alfred and the like are
>> examples. As for specifically Biblical materials, there glosses
>> on Psalters come into play, but so do other things such as
>> paraphrases, homilies, harmonies, and the like, much less
>> Biblical lyrics, Richard Rolle's psalms translation, and the
> Definitely the earliest Middle English documents show more OldEnglish influence than later ones;<
Not influence, continuation.
> ...one of the last Old English words to fall out of use wasNo. ship, read, write, book, clip, hasp, love, wood, tree, sing,
> 'cleppid'. Dictionaries still list its root 'clepe' as an archaic
> word, and its form 'yclept' continues to this century in some
> literary usages.<
singe, yell, do, be, beacon, beckon, bid, beam, sin, God, good,
sunder, shear, sheath, gospel, elf--are but a teeny tiny sampling
of Old English words still in daily use. In fact, over 90% of the
most common words used by the average English speaker the world
over on a daily basis are Old English words in origin. There is no
"one of the last Old English words" since one, of, the, last, old,
English, and word are in fact ALL OLD ENGLISH WORDS STILL IN DAILY
USE as are to, fall, out, and the form was and even the infinitival
"to + verb" began in Old English with to + verbal form in the
dative and our modern English infinitives to + verb are the
> Berengaudus wrote in Latin; further he's earlier than the 14thDaniel replies:
> century. The standard opinion is that he was an eleventh century
> writer on the continent and his commentary became very popular in
> the late 11th and 12th century and was often quoted from and used
> as gloss on the Apocalypse thereafter. Derk Visser wrote a book
> on early medieval Apocalypse commentaries in the mid-90s
> published with Brill that argued, I think fairly convincingly,
> that Berengaudus was a late Carolingian writer and not an 11th
> century writer.<
> The English Apocalypse to which I refer was but a translation ofthe Anglo-Norman Apocalypse, which, naturally, was a translation of
Fair enough, though that wasn't all that clear in your original
post which seemed to me at least that you were saying that
Berengaudus was an Anglo-Norman author. There are many
translations of various works from Anglo-Norman into English in the
14th century, and others translated directly from Latin. Others
still composed in English. This includes Biblical materials in
English that predate the English Apocalypse's to which you refer.In
other words, the situation is far more varied and complex than your
thumbnail sketch allows.
> The earliest use of literary French, especially forecclesiastically related uses, was in England,<
The Sequence of St. Eulalia is ninth century and written on the
continent. That's ecclesiastical, literary, and French.
>...where it was the native language of the nobility.<Depends on the period, even by the end of Henry I's reign children
born to Norman nobles in England were learning English as their
first or native language. That changed again with the influx of
French with Henry II, but after that generation passed, we find an
increase again in the importance and use of English even among the
nobility in the latter 13th century. Increasingly in that century
English is the first language, or a very close second among some
sectors of the nobility.
>In France itself, the ruling classcontinued to use Latin until French was falling out of favour in
In England too, Latin was the language of record.
Daniel originally wrote:
>> It wasn't until Wycliffe's time, toward the end of the century,I responded:
>> that there was any apporbation attached to translating the Bible
>> into English. And even Wycliffe wasn't burned at the stake until
>> many years after he'd been dead and buried.<<
> Thus, it wasn't the fact of the Bible being in the vernacular,Daniel now replies:
> but the how and why it was in the vernacular--to undermine church
>> Indeed, this has long been the contention of the Church of Rome,which even authorizes vernacular translations done by Protestants
if under the supervision and input of Church authority.<<
It isn't a "contention" re: Wycliffe. It is what the contemporary
documents of Wycliffe's opponents explicitly state was the case.
This is far off topic for this list and I am quite sensitive to
that. If you wish to continue this discussion, I'm more than
willing or to provide bibliography for you if you are interested.
But I suggest we carry this on elsewhere in other fora.
Editor in Chief
The Heroic Age
Editor, Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture "S" volume (in process)
Editor, Brill Encyclopedia of the Early Middle Ages, in process.
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