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March 18, 2007 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Archaic English Project: "The primary goal of the Archaic English Project was the resurrection of favorite archaic English words."Also, A Concise Dictionary of Middle English. A few Middle English texts. Harvard's Chaucer website
posted by Gnostic Novelist (18 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hath non of these scoleres rede that Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog?
posted by Drexen at 1:58 PM on March 18, 2007


Passing widdershins of ugsome, indeed.
posted by freebird at 2:07 PM on March 18, 2007


The list of words seems a bit off. Alas, albeit, bane, behoof, bonny, brook, elder, eldest, ergo and fortnight aren't archaic, they're words you're likely to hear, read or write every day, and I only got as far as F.

Drexen writes 'Hath non of these scoleres rede that Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog?'

I'd forgotten all about that weblog - hysterical, and I love that the commenters follow suit.
posted by jack_mo at 2:21 PM on March 18, 2007


What jack_mo said. Most of the words in their word list are modern English; not just in the linguist's sense of "modern" (very roughly from 16C onward) but in the ordinary sense as well. For example, vale, waif, wain, wane, and wax appear in sequence, and all of them are modern. You don't hear "wain" real often because you don't see wagons very often, but it was used well into 20C.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:48 PM on March 18, 2007


I donned my Sisters of Mercy simmit, put my hands in both pockets, and with my knieves out at either side, I took shank's mare to the closest publican to whom I was in the least arears. - Maggie McMillen

Nice.
posted by furtive at 2:52 PM on March 18, 2007


To be really fussy, "shank's mare" doesn't require the word "take" in front of it. I've seen "[to go] by shank's mare" at least as often. It's still used but generally as a colorful archaism.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:03 PM on March 18, 2007


Fundy, v. to become stiff with cold, JD.
Hmmm.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:28 PM on March 18, 2007


I laffed, me like.
posted by Busithoth at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2007


This reminds me of a favorite AskMe from last year about prepositions.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:54 PM on March 18, 2007


Delightful post. I love English, old and new, for it's generous, creative flexibility and accomodation. Another nice -and practical- post by Miko about reading archaic English, Paleography: Reading Old Handwriting, 1500-1800.
posted by nickyskye at 5:31 PM on March 18, 2007


...the resurrection of favorite archaic English words.

Thou woost wel 'twould be a goode and usefull trick to confound the jakke-fool in tymes of foul MetaFiltyre discourse.
posted by cenoxo at 6:12 PM on March 18, 2007


I love bringing back old words. I'm trying to bring back more modern-ish stuff like "The devil you will!" and "Fresh" but old english is ripe for the plucking as well.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:03 PM on March 18, 2007


Groovy!
posted by davy at 8:10 PM on March 18, 2007


The Concise Dictionary of Middle English is old and not a very complete reference. Instead, use the Middle English Dictionary, recently made free to the public, and very very useful to a certain type of geek. ;) You can also browse the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse.

Regarding the Concise Dictionary, you can get a printed copy on Amazon -- it's in the public domain, so someone printed up a few of them, I guess. I bought one, and noticed that the folks who printed it could stand to hire a few proofreaders—the spine of the book reads "The Concisine Dictionary of Middle English."
posted by litlnemo at 9:02 PM on March 18, 2007


BlackLeotardFront writes 'I love bringing back old words. I'm trying to bring back more modern-ish stuff like "The devil you will!" and "Fresh" but old english is ripe for the plucking as well.'

'Fresh' as in the 1980s term of approval, or the earlier sense of mildly sexually aggressive? If the former, my one-man campaign to bring back 'boss' and 'skill' (or even 'skillex') is floundering - perhaps we could join forces! (The amount of attention being paid to Ray Petri/Buffalo in fashion circles, and the fact that scally clothes shops are stocking a lot of later period casual brands like Soviet, Chipie, &c. makes me think that an 80s/90s slang revival is zeitgeisty enough to be possible.)
posted by jack_mo at 3:22 AM on March 19, 2007


Sorry, jack_mo, but when an auto company decides one of your favorite hip terms is theirs to use, it's lost forever.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:40 AM on March 19, 2007


Aw jack_mo, I'll say boss for you. :) Boss is a fun word for top notch. Apparently, it comes from the Dutch word, baas, for master. Never heard of skillex before though. I loved the way the word skills was used in Napoleon Dynamite.
posted by nickyskye at 4:53 AM on March 19, 2007


Sorry, jack_mo, but when an auto company decides one of your favorite hip terms is theirs to use, it's lost forever.

Not boss.

Aw jack_mo, I'll say boss for you. :)

Boss!

Never heard of skillex before though.

I think it was ultra-regional - Geordies and Mackems said it, dunno about anyone else. (The sole pop culture reference I know of is the really rather skillex Skillex EP by otherwise forgettable mid-90s indie/post-riot grrrl Sunderland group Kenickie.)
posted by jack_mo at 5:09 AM on March 19, 2007


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