Hwæt! Ic grete þe.1
In my mental life to-do list, learning a language fluently has always been pretty high up on the totem pole. I choose French when I was in undergrad because initially my academic track was going towards becoming an art historian and a romance language of some sort is almost always required in the profession. While Italian would have been a better choice, my undergrad did not offer classes at the time so French it was! I’m still for continuing my French studies at a self-pace, which is practical and useful, but when I started thinking about the types of languages I wanted to learn, I also wanted to learn one that was not practical or useful but simply for the fun of it.
A seed of that idea started before my honeymoon when Justin and I purchased Rosetta Stones’ for French and Dutch with the idea of immersing ourselves into the language before our trip so we didn’t look like the typical traveling aboard Yanks. While the immersion thing does seem to work but since we did not buy the Rosetta Stone versions for travel for our languages, at best we can tell you the cat was white and that the woman was biking. This is, as you know, extremely helpful when attempting to order food or obtaining directions somewhere or reading the Metro signs.2
Another seed of that idea was planted by Lindsay when she came to visit recently and was discussing how she’s teaching herself Irish, which I thought was fantastic (and I also roped in additional help from Alice as she is Irish and could answer quick-ish questions about grammar and what not when Lindsay gets stuck). While Irish isn’t dead, it is unique enough language that learning it would also be a lot of fun to learn. While talking with Alice all about this, it came to be that we were bother interested in learning not only a new language but something from the dead pile. What language would be fun to learn, not particularly useful but incredibly interesting to notate we’re self-studying? OH WE KNOW! Anglo-Saxon! Alice and I are in the beginning stages of our preparatory work. We currently calling ourselves Dead Language Society and are keeping a blog on our progress.
I’ve started researching materials around the web, which are available on delicious. For books, we’re using two: A guide to Old English By Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson and Complete Teach Yourself Old English, which the new editions are coming out this winter. If you’re curious to what Anglo Saxon sounds like, check out the podcast Anglo Saxon Aloud, which is pretty cool. It also helps that Alice’s mum is a Anglo Saxonist (for the lack of the better verbiage) and teaches at Trinity College, Dublin and she’s been helping us out. 🙂
We also know that learning Old English is gateway drug to Middle English. This is also why I have a huge #girlcrush on Alice and her mum. Additionally, I shant forget to mention that my interest in this is not necessarily new. For the last several years I’ve had a story idea running around in my head that is set in the early middle ages and I’ve been collecting books for a bibliography for future research. It’s also interesting to note that my last name, Rabey, is Anglo-Saxon. It stems from “ra” and “by” which means boundary village by the river and that “Rabey” as surname stems back to 544 CE. My interest was also fueled during my undergrad when I took classes on the history of the English language.
Also in the verbiage arena, the other language I’m also getting going to master is PHP (and then by default also mysql). While my PHP experience has been “Oh, it’s broken and I need to figure out how to fix it” kind of mentality, I’m more interested in learning from the ground up on how it all works. Also by mastering PHP, I will be, in effect, strengthening my resume. And also, interestingly, teaching myself PHP is like the gateway to teaching myself LAMP, jQuery, Ruby on Rails and Python (all in the “to be learned” hopper). I’m pretty excited about all of this language learning. 😉 While I’m pretty sure there will probably not be a lot of content on the computer language learnin’, all the verbal language learning will be posted here and over at Dead Language Society.
1. “Listen up! I greet you.” Though currently my favorite OE-ism is “hwæt the swyve” which means, literally, “what the intercourse/copulation” but that we interpret, “what the fuck.” 😉
2. To be fair, I’ve taken several years of college French so we were not completely helpless in France and Belgium. Alice also brought a French phrasebook with her which turned out to be a boon when we were out and aboot.