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Getting A Word In: Contact, Etymology and English Vocabulary in the Twelfth Century

Getting A Word In: Contact, Etymology and English Vocabulary in the Twelfth Century

Lecture by Richard Dance

Given at the British Academy of Arts and Sciences on November 26, 2013

English vocabulary owes an enormous debt to the other languages of medieval Britain. Arguably, nowhere is this debt more significant than in the twelfth century — a complex and fascinating period of transition, when (among many other things) influence from both Norse and French is increasingly apparent in writing. This lecture explored the etymologies, meanings and contexts of some key words from this crucial time, as a way to think about the evidence for contact and change at the boundary of Old and Middle English and to illustrate how rich, diverse, challenging and surprising its voices can be.

Professor Richard Dance is Director of Studies in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic studies at St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge. Click here to view his university profile.

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Top Image: Eadwine Psalter 

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