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Sundays, Dec 4 - Dec 11
1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

2 weekly meetings
  • Fall 2022
Time of Day:
Meeting Location:
  • Hybrid
Room: Classroom 2


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The Deep History of English

What languages existed in ancient Europe before the advent of the modern Indo-European family? How far back can we trace these languages, and how are they woven into the tapestry of the English we use today? In this two-part Writers Knowledge seminar, we will begin with the ancient Paleo-European languages, including two cultures which have survived into historical times—the Basques and the Etruscans—and see how words from these languages have entered modern English. From there we will survey the development of Proto-Indo-European, the ancient source of most of today’s languages in Europe and northern India, and consider how the domestication of the horse helped spread dialects of this ancestral language from the Guadalquivir to the Ganges. We will follow the evolution of the Germanic languages around the shores of the North Sea, and we will explore the early development of Old English and Old Norse until these two languages collided in the Viking and Norman invasions of England. We will consider the linguistic and cultural effects of these invasions on the subsequent expansion of English, together with the impacts of Renaissance printing and later technologies on the modern extent and future prospects of our ever-changing tongue.

Please note: This class or event is hybrid. Some attendees will be in-person and some will attend online. Currently, you do not have to show proof of vaccination to attend events or visit our center. Please read all our re-opening guidelines and important information before you visit, and be aware that there may be a limited number of seats available. If you are participating online (using Zoom or a similar live platform), students or attendees should have a stable internet connection. Class participants: you should have a computer or device with a webcam and microphone; and your Zoom link will be automatically sent to you after you register. Check your spam box if you don't see it.

  • December 4
  • December 11

Teacher: John Aguiar

Prerequisite: Open to anyone