Listened to Lecture 13: The Return of English as a Standard from The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth LererSeth Lerer from The Great Courses

This lecture surveys the history of English from the late 14th to the early 16th centuries to illustrate the ways in which political and social attitudes returned English to the status of the prestige vernacular (over French). In addition, you'll look at institutions influential in this shift, examine attitudes toward the status of English in relationship to French, and more.

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Listened to Lecture 12: Medieval Attitudes toward Language from The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth LererSeth Lerer from The Great Courses

Here, unpack some attitudes toward language change and variation during the Middle Ages in an effort to understand how writers of the past confronted many of the problems regarding social status and language. Many of these problems, you'll discover, are similar to those we still deal with today.

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Listened to Lecture 11: Dialect Representations in Middle English from The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth LererSeth Lerer from The Great Courses

Learn about some of the major differences in Middle English speech and writing. The goals of this lecture are threefold: to look at some of the linguistic features of the dialects themselves; to illustrate some of the recent methodologies of dialect study; and to appreciate the literary presentation of dialects in Middle English poetry and drama.

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Listened to Lectures 9 and 10 from The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth LererSeth Lerer from The Great Courses

Lecture 9: In this fascinating lecture, Professor Lerer looks closely at the changes wrought by the French in English during the 11th to the 14th centuries. In the process, he raises questions about what we might call the "sociology" of language change and contact.
Lecture 10: This lecture presents the central features of Chaucer's English. Its goal is not only to address a particular period in the history of the language (or even in the history of literature) but to allow you to recognize and appreciate the force of Chaucer's poetry and its indelible impact on English linguistic and literary history.

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Lecture 9: What did the Normans do to English?

Words borrowed for two reasons

  • prestige
  • vacant slots with no native words

English words for animals in the countryside, but the words for cooked meats are French

  • cow/beef
  • deer/venison
  • sheep/mutton

Trilingualism: English, French, Latin

Lecture 10 Chaucer’s English

This lecture presents the central features of Chaucer’s English. Its goal is not only to address a particular period in the history of the language (or even in the history of literature) but to allow you to recognize and appreciate the force of Chaucer’s poetry and its indelible impact on English linguistic and literary history.

Read Hedge (linguistics) (Wikipedia)
In applied linguistics and pragmatics (sub-fields of linguistics), hedges allow speakers and writers to signal caution, or probability, versus full certainty. Hedges can also allow speakers and writers to introduce or eliminate ambiguity in meaning and typicality as a category member. Hedging in category membership is used in reference to the prototype theory, to signify the extent to which items are typical or atypical members of different categories. Hedges might be used in writing, to downplay a harsh critique or a generalization, or in speaking, to lessen the impact of an utterance due to politeness constraints between a speaker and addressee. Typically, hedges are adjectives or adverbs, but can also consist of clauses such as one use of tag questions. In some cases, a hedge could be regarded as a form of euphemism. Linguists consider hedges to be tools of epistemic modality; allowing speakers and writers to signal a level of caution in making an assertion. Hedges are also used to distinguish items into multiple categories, where items can be in a certain category to an extent.

The importance of bread in society: the etymology of Lord

In listening to The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth Lerer (Lecture 8), I came across an interesting word etymology which foodies and particularly bread fans will appreciate.

Dr. Lerer was talking about the compression of syllables at the border of Old English and Middle English circa 1100 which occurred in such terms as hlaf weard, the warden (or guardian) of the loaf.

Who is the guardian of the loaf? The hlfaf weard << The hlaweard << the laweard << the lord. This is the etymology of the word 'lord'. Lord is the guardian of the bread, the mete-er out of bread in a cereal society.

An interesting linguistic change that tells us a lot about power, structure, religion, and society surrounding bread of the time. I suppose one could also look at Christian traditions of the time which looked at the transubstantiation of the symbolic bread of the Last Supper which is ritually turned into the body of Christ–Christ, our lord.

One can’t help noting the slang use of the word “bread” to mean “money”. Perhaps it’s time to go back and re-visit Jeremy Cherfas’ excellent podcast series Our Daily Bread?

Featured image: Bread flickr photo by adactio shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Listened to Lecture 8: Did the Normans Really Conquer English? from The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth LererSeth Lerer from The Great Courses

Witness language change in action as English shifts from an inflected to a relatively uninflected language, and as word order takes precedence over case endings and the determiner of meaning. Also, consider how a language builds and forms its vocabulary through building new words out of old ones, or by borrowing them.

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Shift from an inflected language into an uninflected one

Syncretism

Emphasis of archaeolinguistics based on the barely literate. What are they writing so as to capture the daily change of language over time. Linguists look for writing that can be dated and localized.

  • example: Peterborough Chronicle showing changes over time through the years

“word horde” is kenning for mind, so unlocking one’s word horde is to speak one’s mind (example from Beowulf)

Sound changes hl-, hr-, hn-, and fn- level out to l-, r-, n, and sn-

Compression of syllables occurred in such terms as hlaf weard, the guardian or warden of the loaf, which was shortened to become Lord.

“Who is the guardian of the loaf? The hlfaf weard << The hlaweard << the laword << the lord. This is the etymology of the word lord. Lord is the guardian of the lord, the mete-er out of bread in a cereal society.”

metathesis (/mɪˈtæθɪsɪs/; from Greek μετάθεσις, from μετατίθημι “I put in a different order”; Latin: trānspositiō) is the transposition of sounds or syllables in a word or of words in a sentence. Most commonly, it refers to the interchange of two or more contiguous sounds, known as adjacent metathesis[1] or local metathesis:[2]

  • ask / aks in modern English (Southern US)
  • brid / bird
  • axion / ask
  • thork / through
  • The Old English beorht “bright” underwent metathesis to bryht, which became Modern English bright.

The Owl and the Nightingale[edit]

  • early middle-English poem c. 1200 in 2 handwritten manuscripts from 13th c.
  • octosylabic rhymed couplets
  • Old English words held in a francophone container (French style poetic structure)

Listened to Chapter 7: The Old English Worldview from The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth LererSeth Lerer from The Great Courses

The focus of this lecture is the loan words that came into the Germanic languages during the continental and insular periods of borrowing. You'll also see how the first known poet in English, Caedmon, used the resources of his vocabulary and his literary inheritance to give vernacular expression to new Christian concepts.

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Compounding

Four kinds

Determinitive compounding

  • bone locker
  • middle Earth (Tolkien)

Kenning noun metaphor that exppresses a familiar idea

  • road of the whale – the sea
  • road of the swan
  • bath of the gannett
  • sea steed – ship

repetitive compounding

going about weaver – the swift moving one – spider in OE

Caedmon’s Hymn

  • West Saxon version
  • Known as the first English poem

Watched Winston Perez: Concept Modeling Your Disruptive Idea to Perfect It from YouTube

How long have you been working on your idea? Or looking for that next disruptive investment? Better still, how do you perfect your skill in doing all that? How do you lock-down your idea, your technology, your business or even your approach to investments? Consider this: the key stems from a very practical understanding how the abstract world (where disruptive innovations come from in the first place) actually works. Amazingly, it is something we were never accurately taught. Hard to believe right? But change that…and we change everything. So take a step into both the past and future. Come to a talk that will change the way you understand the world forever – something that will actually make you smarter. How cool would that be?

Winston is the founder of a discipline called Concept Modeling, which is at the root of all other disciplines – but don’t let the word “discipline” scare you. This talk will be very practical and may just be the key to your success going forward. He is the author of an award (Visionary Award) winning new book, Concerning the Nature and Structure of Concept. Reviewers have called his book (thus his work) “brimming with insights,” “intellectually fun,” “a startling fresh perspective on our world.” NY Times has called him “the guru of concept modeling.”

With past and present clients that include Warner Bros., Dreamworks, NBC/U, Interscope, Relativity and many others, Winston works on films, TV Shows, technologies, businesses and management models for executives. How cool is Bug Bunny? Very. With dozens of movies, technologies under his belt, his presentations are unique, insightful, informative, and yes, fun — he even concept modeled baseball. Love that! As Winston always says: “Let’s rock this thing!”

Biography:
As featured in the New York Times, and Deadline.com, Winston is the creator and founder of Concept Modeling, and author of his coming award (Visionary Award) winning book, Concerning The Nature And Structure Of Concept. His concept modeling helps studios and companies perfect films, ideas, technologies, science or businesses. It is considered revolutionary (truly, no cliché) by more and more professionals. The NY Times called Winston the “guru of Concept Modeling.”

Based on a discovery made on Feb. 6, 1989, -- a massive eureka moment as described in his book-- Winston developed a unique practice of deconstructing ideas based on deep insights on how the abstract world actually works or doesn’t – his past and present clients include Warner Bros., Dreamworks, NBC/U, Interscope, Relativity and many others.

His work may just represent a revolutionary advancement that launches you and your successful idea or investment, right here, right now. As Winston is fond of saying: ‘Let’s rock this thing!”

I saw this talk live a few weeks back. There’s something interesting to the general concept of what he’s trying to communicate here, but it doesn’t feel as gelled or as concrete as it could be. He needs to start with some iron clad definitions of “idea” and “concept” and go from there. I looked up his book, which appears to be self-published and incredibly overpriced. I’d pick up a copy if it was reasonably priced, though I suspect that it may not shed much more clarity on his ideas, which are almost a full concept.

The real value of a lot of this is in some of his examples. There are also some interesting thoughts for applying this to linguistics and early languages with smaller vocabularies compared to more developed modern languages with much larger vocabularies.

Notes:

Concept modeling

Ideas are infinite and free. Concepts are not. How can you get to the end of an idea?

Cup conceptually is a container.

Example of pictures of an airplane on the ground versus in the air. The picture of the airplane in the air is better because it contains the concept of what an airplane is.

Sir George Cayley cousin of mathematician Arthur Cayley

Negacept is a concept that defines its nature by the negation of another concept.

  • Example: Superman and krpytonite
  • Example: brakes on an automobile

Innovation is literally “into” and “new”

The softball is not based on a baseball, but is originally based on a boxing glove.

Concept is not obvious. It is not a structure or bigger idea, it’s not a strategy. Concept is abstract essence. It is nature, structure, activity and philosophy of abstract essence.

An idea is simply a possibility.

Revenge movie versus retaliation movie. Revenge takes time. Don’t take revenge. You can’t relate to movies unless there is a concept, and that is typically hope.

Words were originally based on concepts.

Read Japanese wordplay (Wikipedia)
Japanese wordplay relies on the nuances of the Japanese language and Japanese script for humorous effect. Japanese double entendres have a rich history in Japanese entertainment, because of the way that Japanese words can be read to have several different meanings and pronunciations (homographs). Also, several different spellings for any pronunciation and wildly differing meanings (homophones). Often replacing one spelling with another (homonyms) can give a new meaning to phrases.
Replied to a tweet by Jon UdellJon Udell (Twitter)
Does this cast you as Dr. W. C. Minor in the story, albeit not in the same sort of mad man way to wordnik’s Sir James Murray? Seriously though, this is an awesome use case.
Listened to History of the English Language, 2nd Edition, Lecture 6: The Beginnings of English by Seth LererSeth Lerer from The Great Courses

Delve into the linguistic relationships of Old English to its earlier German matrix. Look at key vocabulary terms—many of which are still in our own language—to trace patterns of migration, social contact, and intellectual change. Also, learn how Old English was written down and how it can help us reconstruct the worldview of the Anglo-Saxon peoples.

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📗 Started reading The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth Lerer

cover of The History of the English Language by Seth Lerer

I’d gone through the first edition several years back and thought I’d do a quick review, particularly in relation to some history of memory I’ve been working on and thinking about.

Throughout the day and commuting in the car to class, I’ve listened through lecture 4.

📖 14% done with The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth Lerer

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Listened to Lecture 5 and the first several minutes of 6 today while cooking in the kitchen.

There’s some interesting history about the ideas of law, ligatures, and links. He also has an interesting history of the words ‘apocalypse’ and ‘revelation’ which ultimately mean the same thing. Apocalypse essentially means to ‘take away the cover’. He doesn’t go into it, but this word also has historical relation to the removal of the curtain within the holy of holies, or in the New Testament the rending of said curtain at the death of Jesus. Subsequently there has obviously been a lot of semantic shift to create our modern day meaning of apocalypse.