April 2, 2013

Happy Tues. Sunny here and the temp is rising from a low of about +1. Should hit the low 40s by early afternoon. Nice half moon in the south this morning.

Yokelly I finished the biography of King Alfred the Great (ruled from 871-899), regarded as the first king of a somewhat unified England, though at that time the area north and northwest of London was settled and controlled by Vikings (Scandinavians, mostly Danes), who invaded the British isles regularly beginning in the late 700s. Eventually they decided to stay. A map of English place names (below) shows where these people settled.

Much of the English language as we now speak it originated from the Scandinavians. We use the verb “are,” for example, instead of “sinden” as the Anglo-Saxons did; also “they” and “them” instead of “hie” and “him.” Anyway, as you can see on the map, Alfred ruled the southern part of England where formerly at least three kings ruled. Alfred was quite active in fighting against “the Danes” as they called them, and after some setbacks eventually defended his territory aggressively. He also instituted a translation program to put Latin works into (Old) English and then to teach his officials how to read them.

This made possible the written order, written laws that everyone could at least hear read aloud and understand them. Alfred also ordered the keeping of an annual history of the kingdom, now known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the core beginning of which was distributed to several locations and then kept independently at those locations. These chronicles are the earliest national history in a European vernacular language (i.e., not Latin) and are one of the principal sources of info about the period. Interesting read.

Scandinavian place names Crystal CEEL 2nd ed 2003 p 25From David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, 2nd ed. (2003), p. 25.


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