Wilt ðū leornian eald englisc? Well then you’ve come to the right place!
Old English, also known by the moniker “Anglo-Saxon”, is the name given to the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxon people from around the years 450 A.D. to 1100 A.D. approximately. The Anglo-Saxons originate from three distinct Germanic tribes: the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. These tribes spoke mutually intelligible dialects of the greater West Germanic language in existence in the mid-5th century. When the Roman legions withdrew from Britain in 410 A.D., members of the aforementioned tribes started emigrating en masse to England. Within a short time, they came to be the predominant power in the general area of modern-day England.
Of course, just like contemporary English, Old English was never a single, monolithic language so to speak – in other words, it too had dialects. There were four main dialects spoken: Kentish, Mercian, Northumbrian, and West Saxon. Northumbrian was the dialect in which a large bulk of Old English literature was originally written. However, nearly all of that literature has been lost in its Northumbrian form for various reasons. Luckily for us, however, King Alfred the Great set about having much of the surviving Northumbrian literature written into his own dialect, that of West Saxon. Indeed, from the time of Alfred and on, nearly all Old English texts are written in the West Saxon dialect.
While I consider myself a weak reader of Old English, I will still venture nonetheless to slowly create some lessons to teach the basics of Old English (specifically the early West Saxon dialect).
Lesson 0: Alphabet and Pronunciation
Lesson 1: Nouns – Masculine A Stems; Verbs – Present Indicative (Forthcoming)
N.B. Those with a stronger grounding in Old English are welcomed and encouraged to correct any errors they may see during the course of the lessons, as well as to provide any help or knowledge that could be of benefit.