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Talk:Old English

I've trimmed the definition a bit, as it seemed encyclopedic. The content was,
The language is a more inflected language, maintaining strong and weak verbs, nouns, and adjectives. It has a clearly marked subjunctive mood, and has 5 cases of nouns and adjectives. In addition to singular and plural grammatical numbers, there was a dual number for two people. After ca. 884, many Old Norse words made their way into Old English, as Norse settlers in the Danelaw interacted with native Anglo-Saxons.--Dmol (talk) 21:20, 5 April 2012 (UTC)


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Rfv-sense: (nonstandard) Middle English.

I can see how someone would add a definition like this. However, I do not believe the definition is correct in that it doesn't mean specifically Middle English. Consider the following:

  1. Many people refer to Old English as the language of Shakespeare. However, he lived long after the Middle English period, and what is actually meant is more like Early Modern English (although I wouldn't support a definition like this either, because...)
  2. ...most of you have heard of stuff like "ye olde Englishe". In almost all cases, this isn't specifically Middle English either, just modern English with some archaicisms thrown in. Very few people actually bother to switch the vocabulary to match the one being used in the earlier centuries.

Considering these, I don't think the definition can stand a verification. -- Liliana 21:31, 5 April 2012 (UTC)

It just seems like a mistake. I remember someone telling me that Shakespeare was Old English. It isn't but it is [[old]] [[English]]. In the same way that I might mistake a crow for a raven, we don't need a definition at crow that says 'raven'. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:36, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
Looks like is should be "Early Modern English". The site [1] gives a fairly good description of the evolution of English over the last 1000 years. I suggest we change the definition to - (Non-standard) Early Modern English, as typified by Shakespeare.--Dmol (talk) 22:06, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
I suggest we delete it. Mglovesfun (talk) 22:11, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
I noticed old doesn't have 'archaic' as any of the definitions, even though I'd consider 'old English' to mean 'archaic english' in this context. —CodeCat 22:14, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
I've changed the definition to (Non-standard) Early Modern English, as typified by Shakespeare - as the Middle English was demonstrably wrong. I'll leave the rfv there until we reach consensus on the exact wording.--Dmol (talk) 01:27, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
It's not non-standard, it's incorrect. Shouldn't this read "proscribed"? DAVilla 22:40, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
Proscibed seems right, judging by the definition we give it in our glossary. Any comments on the use of the Shakespeare mention. That seems to be most peoples misunderstanding of it.--Dmol (talk) 23:09, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

It sounds like a miscapitalization of “old English,” but with not a single quotation to show the usage, I'm only speculating about what the subject of this conversation is. Delete. Michael Z. 2012-04-10 03:52 z

The citation's Dmol has added so far for me, demonstrate how invalid this is. Surely we can't go around trying to document every attestable mistake. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:11, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
That is exactly the point. It IS a mistake to refer to Early Modern English as Old English, but the cites prove that it is widespread. Hence the "proscribed" tag suggested already--Dmol (talk) 11:29, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
The cites do not prove this. Arguably, only one of them actually uses the term incorrectly, and the only a valid durable quotation uses it right. Michael Z. 2012-04-10 14:16 z
Still, I think people are just as likely to mistakenly call Chaucer "old English" as Shakespeare, so the proscribed definition should probably include Middle English as well as EME. —Angr 11:48, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
I find it a bit like having a sense at frog that says "(proscribed) Toad." and a sense at toad that says "(proscribed) Frog." Besides at the most basic level, it's not even cited per WT:CFI#Attestation yet. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:21, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
"A selection of excerpts Chaucer's work - in the original Old English!". —Angr 08:00, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
frog and toad certainly do need work on the definitions; according to Wikipedia, toad is an ill-defined subset of frog, not used by scientists.--Prosfilaes (talk) 09:42, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

I've rewritten the definitions, acknowledging that Old English is a technical term. Still lacks proper citations. Michael Z. 2012-04-10 14:28 z

I'm not sure that I'm remembering this correctly, but I believe that some older dictionaries used "Anglo-Saxon" to mean "Old English" (as we now define it) and "Old English" to refer to "Middle English" (as we now define it). I think even an early version of either the OED or Webster's did this. I do know that a great deal of language terminology pertaining to the Germanic languages has undergone much flux and shift in the past hundred years of linguistics. --EncycloPetey (talk) 01:38, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

Just checked: the OED's definition is something like “an older form of English, spec. English pre-1150,” with a note about historical usage as you describe it. Their definition includes the l.c. usage old English, of course. Michael Z. 2012-04-13 15:57 z
EncycloPetey is right. In the 1913 Webster Dictionary (often cited in wikt), the etymologies note "Old English" (OE) for what we now call "Middle English"; it notes "Anglo-Saxon" (AS) for what we now call "Old English". Many older books refer to fore-ME as AS rather than OE and some, such as Webster, refer to ME as OE. I am of two minds about it myself. I float between calling it OE and AS. In a broader sense, I often see the term "Old English" noted, by the those who don't know better, to mean anything before c1900. Fans of steampunk often talk about Victorian era English as "old English". By the same token, I'v seen folks refer to Shakespeare both as "Middle English" and "Old English". "Old" and "Middle" English are not good descriptions. Soothfast, the terms are somewhat misleading. --AnWulf ... Ferþu Hal! (talk) 15:58, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
You're still missing the point. How about defining oak as pine and pine as oak because people may confuse the two. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:35, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
If people regularly labeled oak as pine, I think that would be evidence that pine is a proscribed name for oak or some hypernym thereof.--Prosfilaes (talk) 10:20, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
RFV-passed. - -sche (discuss) 23:57, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

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