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Anglo-Saxon without tears

(coming on Jan 1 2023) - an introduction


Follow Audrey's journey to the world of her Anglo-Saxon ancestors... and learn Early Middle English as you go

Day 1

Audrey's adventure begins with an unexpected encounter on her first day in a new job. What is that language with which the stranger greets her? "Wes t`u_ ha_l!" And is it the key to a door she previously thought was closed to her? Read on »

New to englesaxe?

Wondering how Anglo-Saxon without tears works or how long the course is? You'll find the answers below. The course doesn't start until Jan 1 2023, but right now you can preview the course at Day 1.

You'll learn to read, write and speak Early Middle English at a leisurely pace - just 3 new words a day. Once the course starts, it will be updated every day. If you miss a day (or more), an archive will enable you to choose the day(s) you missed.

A language course unlike any other

Anglo-Saxon without tears is not a course in the traditional sense. It is a story. The idea is that you learn Early Middle English simply by following the story. There are no numbered exercises at the end of each chapter, and no assignments to complete. You will be unaware of the process of learning. But you will learn nevertheless. Each chapter is in the form of a diary entry, and contains no more than three new words, the meanings of which are made clear within the chapter. Then in subsequent chapters these new words are used again and again, since they are everyday words or essential to the environment in which Audrey - the main character, finds herself. The difference with this story is that these same essential, everyday words are given in their Early Middle English form. With repeated use, they'll become familiar to you. You'll hardly notice that over time, more and more of the text is in Early Middle English, until by the last chapter, Modern English words are rare, scattered exceptions. Take me to Day 1 »

What's the story about?

The story could have been entitled 'the Adventures of Audrey' since there will be many of these as Audrey struggles to reestablish herself as a web developer in a media company after ten years out of the work force. There are numerous hurdles to surmount, not the least of which is her irascible art director. The story could also have been called 'Audrey's journey' since it really is a journey of discovery. Early in the piece, she meets a co-worker who opens up a whole new world, a world she hardly knew existed, but which becomes a fundamental part of her. This journey of discovery is the same journey many of you are embarking on now. To learn more, you'll simply have to read on »

How long is the story? And what will I learn?

Anglo-Saxon without tears will be run over a period of 50 weeks from Jan 1 2023. A new chapter will be posted twice a week - every Sunday and Wednesday, during those 50 weeks. Generally speaking, in each chapter three new words and five words that have survived to Modern English, will be presented. On occasions a grammatical feature - usually a verb form, will also be introduced. But grammar plays a very small role in Early Middle English. Also, in some of the early chapters, a series of simple techniques for tranforming a group of Modern English words into their Early Middle English equivalents, will form part of the conversation between Audrey and her co-worker.

At an average of 8 words per chapter, 2 chapters per week over 50 weeks, you can expect to learn around 800 Early Middle English words by the time the story ends.

The combined text for the story should be the equivalent of around 300 pages of a typical paperback. This assumes roughly three pages per chapter. There will be 100 chapters posted over the 50 weeks. You can preview the first chapter now.

When does it start... and end?

The first chapter has already been posted. The next will be posted on Jan 1 2023. After that, the postings will pick up in earnest, twice a week. The final chapter will be posted twelve months later.

For the most part, a new chapter will be every Sunday and Wednesday. However there will be occasional variations in that period. Four chapters may appear one week then none the following week, then four the following week, before the regular twice-weekly postings are resumed.

Of course, you don't have to worry about missing a day. You can start any time and read at your own pace. You can start after the final chapter is posted if you like and take six months, or a year, or three years. There'll be no time limit. Anglo-Saxon without tears will still be here. But why not have a squiz now at Day 1?

And after that?

Anglo-Saxon without tears may form part of a trilogy eventually. But that depends on the success of this first phase. Ideally I would like to see two more stories, one which introduces around 800 more Anglo-Saxon words, and another which teaches the grammar of Old English (i.e. Alfred the Great's Early West Saxon) and a further 800 words. Both would feature the central characters from Anglo-Saxon without tears and would be written in Early Middle English, though the latter would feature excerpts from works such as Beowulf, the Battle of Maldon and the Seafarer. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have to take that first step.