Runes spelling "Englisc"
Runes spelling "Englisc"
"The scribes who wrote the manuscripts which are our only source of information about Old English lived in various parts of England and wrote a version of the language which they spoke every day. Consequently OE manuscripts, especially from the period, preserve evidence of dialectal variation the pronunciation and grammar of the language." Burnley (2000: 2)


The Old English (henceforth OE) period is generally viewed as spanning a little more than six hundred years. For linguistic purposes, it extends from 449 to 1100 AD. It is not proposed to provide a comprehensive description of the language as it was spoken during this time. The aim is simply to furnish a general impression of English as it existed more than a millennium ago.

Three distinct characteristics differentiate OE from its modern counterpart: vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. Each of these features is to be explored in the following pages although it is only lexicon which links into Yorkshire Dialect.

Examples of this early form of English appearing within these pages contain a number of OE characters a description of which is given in the Phonology section.


These pages are divided into several parts:



Burnley, D. (2000) The History of the English Language, Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd

Baugh, A.C. and Cable, T. (1993) A History of the English Language, Fourth Edition, London: Routledge.