This leaf is a drawth wordwrestling a riddle or a wen that has arisen in the making of Anglish. See other drawths.

Hi Folks

It's come to my attention that many members when modernising Old English words are not adhering to the respected sound-spelling changes. Now, everyone here knows that when updating a word, that is presently out of use, it is not an exact science. However, there is a basic, respected structure for converting sounds into modern English. Allow me to illustrate:

Take the Old English word 'hnǽgan' = to bow down/ bend/ umble, etc...

Now the first thing that happens is we lob the end off. Most modern verbs in English lost their endings between the 12th - 16th Centuries. Nothing to do with the Norman Conquest, just a natural shortening (also happened in Norwegian/Danish/Swedish).

  • So, now we have: hnǽg

Also lost in modern English is the now defunct 'h' prefix. See also the word 'loaf' originally 'hlaf' in OE

  • Now we have: nǽg

This is where it gets trickier. There is no certainty how ǽ would convert into modern spelling, but it has mostly become 'a' /'ae' / 'e'.

  • The possibilities become nag / neag/ neg

What is more certain, yet still tricky, is how the 'g' should change into modern English. Now, true West Saxon sound-spelling would, and does, usually give us a 'y' sound when converted. e.g. OE. sarig = sorry. But the officious West Saxon dialect of England was already well in decline by 1000AD, and we know that northern dialects i.e. 'Anglian' from 'Frisian, Jutish, Danish, etc...' had 'g' sound differences to their dominant written cousin in the South of England. So, we get double words in English such as 'lay/ lag' and 'yet/ get' naturally they have different meanings, but you get the picture - the root is the same.

Even taking all this into account, a 'g' in the middle or end position of an OE word nearly always tends to become a 'y' sound-spelling in the majority of cases when converted. Unless preceded in its original OEspelling by a 'c', 'n' or another ' g'. But of course we even get a ' w ' conversion, for instance, OE. folgian/ follow or OE. swelgan/ swallow.

Right, so considering this we should end up with the following modern possibilities...

  • nay, neay, ney, neaw, new ...maybe even... newe

Thanks for reading!


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