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Give me a sentence written in Early Old, Old, Early Modern and Modern English and find...

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booosh | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 12, 2012 at 9:25 PM via web

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Give me a sentence written in Early Old, Old, Early Modern and Modern English and find the differences between them. 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 13, 2012 at 2:30 AM (Answer #1)

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The history of the English language is often divided into four phases: Old, Middle, Early Modern, and Late Modern. 

Here is an excerpt of each era using the Lord's Prayer. 

Old English: 

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;

Si þin nama gehalgod

to becume þin rice

gewurþe ðin willa

on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.

Middle English:

Oure fadir that art in heuenes,

halewid be thi name;

thi kyndoom come to;

be thi wille don in erthe as in heuene.

Early Modern English:

Our Father which art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

Late Modern English:

Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

They will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

One large difference between the three latter versions and Old English is that Old English has different letters. One such letter is the þ ("Thorn") which has a "th" sound. There is the ð ("eth") which also has a "th" sound but tends to come at the ends of words. Unlike its successors, Old English does not depend on word order. Instead, word endings denote the syntax, which is more characteristically Germanic.

Middle English, dating from 1066 to approximately 1400, begins to have a more systematized, yet still not formalized, order. Middle English is said to begin in 1066 with the Battle of Hastings, the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Consequently, Old French had a noticeable effect on the development of the English language.

Early Modern English is quite close to Late Modern in spelling, syntax and grammar. However, words like thy and thou persisted in Early Modern spoken language (not just in formal prayers such as this). Early Modern occurred approximately between the late 15th century and the late 17th century. This included Shakespeare's life span and the first publication of the King James Bible. 

The big shift occurred during the transition from Old to Middle and the development of Middle English. This had everything to do with the presence of the Normans. 

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