Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Old English

Old English, also known as Anglo-Saxon... high on my "Languages I Want to Learn" list. If only I had been alive three quarters of a century ago, I could have studied it under one of my favorite people in the world: Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, of Oxford. (Well, if I had lived three quarters of a century ago and lived in England and been intelligent enough to be accepted at Oxford...)
Not only did Tolkien teach Anglo-Saxon, of course; he used it extensively in creating the languages for the people of his Middle Earth. One type of Old English alphabet, known as Futhork, was used as the alphabet for his Dwarvish languages; you can see plenty of it in The Hobbit--it's even on the spine and cover of my copy:

The runes, beginning from the bottom of the left-hand side, read: "The Hobbit or There and Back Again, Being the Record of a Year's Journey of Bilbo Baggins, Compiled from His Memoirs" (I added the capitalization and punctuation for clarity.)

9 comments:

  1. Faith, what a gorgeous edition of THE HOBBIT. Mine is a plain old, mass-market paperback. I love yours! Also a great Tolkien fan myself. Wouldn't it have been fun to be his student?

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  2. I don't think I could ever learn Old English, since I would never use it, but I certainly hope it doesn't slip through our fingers as the world goes on. It certainly would be interesting to study. ;)

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  3. Old English fascinates me, because it's so unlike regular English! I had to read The Canterbury Tales in Middle English in College, and even that was practically impossible. Thank heavens for footnotes!

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  4. Yes, just imagine being a fly on the wall in the same smoky drawing room with Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and T. S. Eliot.

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  5. Ah to be one of his students ... thank goodness all these wonderful books survive because they are still our teachers. Books do transcend time.

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  6. I do love how he incorporated his knowledge of language into his work.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com
    Happy A-Zing!

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  7. We still cherish some of the grandeur of old English in our Mass and Prayer Books (1662, 1928). Appreciate them more for the decorum and respect.Its wonderful!

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  8. Languages are just fascinating! Another of my wishes I'll need to do in a separate lifetime. I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month. My alphabet is at myqualityday.blogspot.com

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