About This Page

      Not only is language-learning a passion of mine, but it is critically informative to and helpful for learning more about philosophy, history, theology, and a number of other disciplines. For example, if you want to know what Kierkegaard meant by "Tungsindighed" (literally "heavy-mindedness," but sometimes translated as "depression"), you would need to know a little about the Danish language, as well as a little about its 19th-century historical context, perhaps even searching for other 19th-century Danish synonyms that Kierkegaard might have known (cf. to search his works), to make sense of why he used this word rather than another.
      You could begin exploring this with the Danish-language resources in the Quick Links below. They, along with several other historical language resources, are there to help guide research in etymology, philology, and historical contextual word usage. Just above that, this page begins with a brief history of the English language, to offer some guidance and rationale as to which languages to begin one's search for original meanings of or histories behind specific English words. Next, there are Language Learning Resources for the budding polyglot. Finally, towards the middle to bottom of this page, you'll find some fun "just-because" information, including a recording of the Lord's Prayer in Old Norse(!), some information on different versions of Runes (the precursor to the English Latin alphabet), and some examples of different Writing Systems past and present from around the world.


      ye Olde English

      Old English / Anglo-Saxon (ca.450-1150)

      Believe it or not, modern English is the product of contributions from dozens of other languages, whether by conquest or via simple borrowing. English is a Germanic language, brought to the Latinized British Isles by northern European Germanic peoples around AD 450. Latin had displaced indigenous languages such as Brittonic Celtic, Welsh, Gaelic, and Irish; and now those languages commingled with the proto-English contributions brought from the Germanic tribes such as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (named after their corresponding regions in present day Germany and Denmark). Voilà!--the Old English language, otherwise known as Anglo-Saxon (sorry, Jutes). Written originally in runic script, this was replaced by a version of the Latin script by Irish missionaries in the 9th century.
      From the 8th to 10th century was the time of Vikings and Danelaw, and of the magisterial leadership of King Alfred the Great which saw the unification of Brittanic kingdoms (Wessex, Northumbria, Mercia, Anglia, etc.) into one England. This corresponded with an influx of Scandinavian-language (esp. Old Norse) influences, also part of the Germanic languages tree. These invaders came largely from modern-day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

      Middle English (ca.1150-1430)

      Everyone has heard of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, of the Norman Conquest, and of William the Conqueror. But seldom do we remember the significance of these events and this time in history. In language terms, the Norman Conquest is a sort of benchmark for the transition from Old English to Middle English, as it reminds us of the influx of (Old) French and (yet again) Latin influences into the English language.
      At this time, the British Isles were home to a syncretistic group: the Welsh, Celtic, Gaelic, and Irish indigenous peoples; the Anglo-Saxon English and their recently arrived Dane and Norse neighbors, which amounted to several regional dialects. All of this was controlled by the Normans, who themselves were linguistically united by a regulated and widespread Old French (ca. 8th-14th century), a Romance language derived from Latin. Thus begat the Anglo-Norman culture, or what would be the product of this commingling. The Anglo-Norman language, a hybrid dialect of Old French largely used in England but now extinct, would continue to appear in English legal documents until the 17th century.

      Modern English (ca.1430-now)

      Calling anything "modern" in the 15th century certainly seems premature, considering "modern" typically comfortably denotes a period which doesn't begin until about 200 years later. But this designation means to mark the language's own drastic and massive shifts, which, to be frank, really haven't happened lately. Yes, spellings have changed, new words coined and archaic words disused--for which reason a distinction between Early Modern English (ca.1430-1750) and Modern English has become commonplace--but this earliest date marks the beginning of a language which present-day English speakers can read and understand without much difficulty.
      Today, Modern English is much more the influencer than its ancestors were, with approximately 400 million speakers worldwide and frequent contributor of loan words (e.g., "le hot-dog" en français).

      Quick Links


      See the classifications of languages into families; w/search feature.For example, notice that Danish is a (South) Scandinavian, (North(west)) Germanic, Indo-European language.

      Du Cange Latin Glossary online (avail. from the Sorbonne)

      Du Cange's Glossary of Medieval and Modern Latin, with usage citations in Latin, Old French, Greek, and even Arabic languages & literature.
      Previous Iterations:(1678), Charles du Fresne, sieur du Cange (1610-1688) - 3 vol.
      (1733-1736), the Benedictines of the congregation of St. Maur make some significant additions, but in keeping with general plan.
      (1766), Pierre Carpentier adds a supplement of 4 vol. worth of articles.
      (1840-1850), Louis Henschel adds another 2 vol. & officially unites the supplemental materials to the main work.
      (1883-1887), Léopold Favre composes the last edition, printing it just before the 20th century - 10 vol.

      Given English's Scandinavian / Germanic Connections:
      Danish (Dansk)

      A Guide to the Danish Language for English SpeakersKalkars Ordbog ---> [Kalkar's Dictionary]Ordbog over det Dankse Sprog: Historik Ordbog (1700-1950) ---> [Dictionary of the Danish Language: Historical Dictionary (1700-1950)]

      Norwegian (Norsk)

      Norsk Ordbok ---> [Norwegian Dictionary]

      Swedish (Svensk)

      Svensk Etymologisk Ordbok---> [Swedish Etymological Dictionary]

      Language Learning Resources(Not an exhaustive list...I am bound to leave something out by accident.)

      Rosetta Stone
      Clozemaster--Gamification, mass exposure to grammar

      Hello Talk-- Chat w/native speakers
      Mango Languages
      LingoDeer-- Esp. Korean, Japanese, Chinese

      Skritter-- Esp. Japanese, Chinese characters
      FSI courses
      Hello Chinese-- Chinese


      Listen to a recording of The Lord's Prayer in Old Norse below

      The Lord's Prayer in Old Norse


      Transliteration:Faðer uor som ast i himlüm, halgað warðe þit nama. Tilkomme þit rikie. Skie þin uilie so som i himmalan so oh bo iordanne. Wort dahliha broð gif os i dah. Oh forlat os uora skuldar so som oh ui forlate þem os skuüldihi are. Oh inleð os ikkie i frestalsan utan frels os ifra ondo. Tü rikiað ar þit oh mahtan oh harlihheten i ewihhet. Aman.

      Elder FutharkElder Futhark is thought to be the oldest version of the Runic alphabet, and was used in the parts of Europe which were home to Germanic peoples, including Scandinavia. Other versions probably developed from it. The names of the letters are shown in Common Germanic, the reconstructed ancestor of all Germanic languages. [Source]


      Younger FutharkYounger Futhark or "Normal Runes" gradually evolved Elder Futhark over a period of many years and stabilized by about 800 A.D., the beginning of the Viking Age. It was the main alphabet in Norway, Sweden and Denmark throughout the Viking Age, but was largely though not completely replaced by the Latin alphabet by about 1200 as a result of the conversion of most of Scandinavia to Christianity.
      Three slightly different versions of the alphabet developed in Denmark, Norway and Sweden - the first row of runes are the Danish ones, the second row are the Norwegian ones, and the third row are the Swedish ones, which are also known as Short-twig or Rök Runes. [Source]


      Dalecarlian Runes
      Dalecarlian runes were a runic alphabet used in the Swedish province of Dalarna/Dalecarlia until the 20th century, mainly to write the Elfdalian language. They developed from Younger Futhork during the 16th century and other time became increasingly mixed with letters from the Latin alphabet. This alphabet is also known as Elfdalian runes or dalrunes.

      This alphabet was mainly inscribed into wood and stone on furniture, buildings, bowls, measuring sticks, etc. to write the names of the owners and/or makings. The earliest known inscription in Daelcarlian runes, for example, appears on a bowl from Åsen, a village in Älvdalen parish, and says "Anders has made (this) bowl anno 1596". [


      Medieval (Latinised) FutharkAfter the arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia, the Runic alphabet was Latinised and was used occasionally, mainly for decoration, until 1850. [Source]


      Anglo-Saxon runes (ᚠᚢᚦᚩᚱ/Futhorc/Fuþorc)
      Anglo-Saxon runes are an extended version of Elder Futhark consisting of between 26 and 33 letters. It is thought that they were used to write Old English / Anglo-Saxon and Old Frisian from about the 5th century AD. They were used in England until the 10th or 11th centuries, though after the 9th century they were mainly used in manuscripts and were of interest to antiquarians, and their use ceased after the Norman conquest in 1066.

      One theory is that this script was developed in Frisia and then adopted in England. Another is that it was brought to England by the Vikings and then modified and later ended up in Frisia.

      From the 7th century the Latin alphabet began to replace these runes, though some runes continued to appear in Latin texts representing whole words, and the Latin alphabet was extended with the runic letters þorn and wynn. [


      Gothenburg / Bohuslän RunesThese runes were used in Gothenburg in Sweden. [Source]