oldest form of English

MeYou   Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:18 pm GMT
Is it true that the "Shakespeare English" is the oldest form of English?
It is indeed beautiful.
Guest   Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:39 pm GMT
RayH   Sat Apr 05, 2008 9:24 pm GMT
If you're interested in the history of English an excellent book is "Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language" by Seth Lerer.
Joe   Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:20 am GMT
Not even close. This is a quote from the Wiki article on the history of English:
"By the time of William Shakespeare (mid-late 16th century) the language had become clearly recognizable as Modern English."
Guest   Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:11 pm GMT
Perhaps Shakespeare and the King James Bible are approximately the oldest form of English that is still easily comprehensible? If you go back too much further, comprehension problems get worse, without special study of the older forms of English. Consider Chaucer (just partly understandable), and Beowulf (completely incomprehensible, except for a few words here and there).
Damian   Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:53 pm GMT
One of the most comprehensive and informative of publications on the entire history of the English Language, right from its conception all the way through to the present day is:

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of The Englsh Language
by David Crystal

Published by the Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0 521 40179 8 Hardback

Not only does it go into the development of English here in the British Isles, in great detail, but also into its varied formations in the regions of these islands, and furthermore it also it does the same in relation to the varieties of English in all those countries across the globe where it later became the official means of communication, and which are now classed as English speaking countries.

A fascinating read for anyone with more than just a passing interest in our Language and its history down the ages.
Skippy   Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:03 pm GMT
The oldest form of Modern English dates to before Shakespeare... The Great Vowel Shift (English) took place from about the 13th to the 15th century... It was probably completed by around 1500... There's many good texts on the history of English... I'm in my office on campus, and the only relevant book I see on my shelf is "Stories of English" but I'm sure I have more at home.
MeYou   Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:15 am GMT
Josh, is that REALLY English? Are you sure???
It doesn't look like english.........
Guest   Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:47 am GMT
That text resembles Beowulf, which is totally incomprehensible. I thought there was at least one or two texts earlier than that, though, perhaps even a runic inscription or two that might be considered early English rather than Germanic.
Levee   Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:11 pm GMT
MeYou, by "English", you probably mean "Modern English". Earlier forms of English are not easily recognizable by the layman as the same language (although the WRITTEN FORM of Middle English was quite similar already). The earliest form of ModEng is a little older than Shakespeare.
Skippy   Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:52 pm GMT
Typically scholars refer to 449 AD as the year Old English split from its relatives to become its own language... This is an example of how many of the age of language estimates are based on historic events rather than linguistic analysis... That's the year Germanic tribes began arriving in Britain. There are earlier texts of Old English than Beowulf (which was probably composed in the 8th or 9th century). For example some Franks Casket inscriptions date to around 675; other than that the first good sources of Old English are in charters that began showing up in the Kentish dialect in 750 AD.