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Old English Alphabet





Alphabets

Old English Written Records

Lecture 6

The first Old English written records are considered to be the runic inscriptions.To make these inscriptions people used the Runes/the Runic Alphabet – the first original Germanic Alphabet.

Runes/Runic Alphabet:

· appeared in the 3rd – 4th c. A.D.;

· it was also called Futhark (after the first 6 letters of this alphabet);

· the word “rune” meant “secret, mystery” and was used to denote magic inscriptions on objects made of wood, stone, metal;

· each symbol indicated a separate sound (one symbol = one sound);

· the symbols were angular due to the fact that they had to be carved on hard materials;

· the number of symbols: GB – 28-33; on the continent – 16-24).

See the copy of the alphabet (additional information)

 

Best known Runic Inscriptions:

1. Franks Casket – a box with 4 sides made of whale bone, each side contained a picture in the centre and runic inscriptions around the picture that told the story of the whale bone in alliterative verse.

2. Ruthwell Cross –was found near thevillage of Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, it is a 15 feet tall stone cross ornamented in all sides with runic inscriptions that are actually a passage from a religious poem “The Dream of the Rood”.

The Old English Alphabet was borrowed from Latin, but there were also some letters that were borrowed from the Runic Alphabet:

· ? (“thorn”) = [q] and [ð]

· ? (“wynn”) = [w]

· ? (“mann”) = stood for OE word “man”

· ? (“dæζ”) = stood for OE word “day”

Some new letters were introduced:

· ζ = [g] and [j];

· ð/þ/Đ/đ = [q] and [ð];

· æ = a ligature of [a] and [e];

· œ = a ligature of [o] and [e].

Rules of Reading:

They resemble the modern rules, with several exceptions though:

1.f = [v] --- 1. between vowels;

s = [z] 2. between a vowel and a voiced consonant ( [r, m, n, l, d, etc.] ).

ð/þ = [ð]

2.ζ – [j] – between and after front vowels ( [e, i, æ] );

– [g] – initially and between back vowels ( [a, o, u] ).

3.cζ = [gg].

4.c = [k].

5.n = [ŋ] when fallowed by [k] or [g].

See also § 111-113 on p. 71-74 in “История английского языка” by Т.А. Расторгуева (copies).

 

 

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