The History of English Podcast

Kevin Stroud

+19 FANS

A chronological history of the English language examined through the lens of historical events that shaped the development and spread of the language from the Eurasian steppe to the entire world.

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Episode 121: English Ascent

1:00:52 | Jan 30th

In the years immediately following the Black Death, a labor shortage in the countryside led to the rise of yeomen and other rural laborers. The rise of these English-speaking classes led to corresponding rise in the prestige of English. The … Continu...Show More

Episode 120: The End of the World

59:20 | Dec 31st, 2018

In the mid-1300s, most of Europe was devastated by a massive plague known today as the Black Death. The disease killed about one-third of the population of England, and an even higher percentage of clerics and teachers who were trained … Continue rea...Show More

Episode 119: The Road to War

1:13:58 | Dec 13th, 2018

The Hundred Years War is one of the most well-known conflicts of the Middle Ages.  The long, extended war introduced new weapons and new types of warfare, and it marked a transition from the traditional feudal state to the modern … Continue reading →

Bonus Episode: Regarding English (Sound Education Conference Talk)

29:29 | Nov 29th, 2018

In November of 2018, I gave a talk at the Harvard Divinity School as part of the Sound Education Conference. The talk was an overview of the history of English called “Regarding English.”  The final version of the speech was … Continue reading →

Episode 118: Trade Names

1:07:45 | Nov 19th, 2018

Like much of western Europe, England experienced a significant growth in population during the two centuries after the Norman Conquest. By the 1300s, the percentage of the English population who lived in urban areas had doubled. As towns and cities …...Show More

Episode 117: What’s In a Name?

1:04:27 | Oct 16th, 2018

The origin of modern naming conventions can be traced to the period immediately following the Norman Conquest. Prior to the Conquest, almost all people in England had a single Anglo-Saxon name.  After 1066, parents gave their children names borrowed ...Show More

Episode 116: The Celtic Fringe

1:00:47 | Sep 17th, 2018

In this episode, we explore the state of the English language outside of England in the early 1300s. This story takes us to the regions where Celtic languages were traditionally spoken. In some of those regions, English had little or … Continue readi...Show More

Episode 115: The Measure of a Person

1:03:36 | Aug 21st, 2018

For much of human history, common measurements of length were based on body parts and were variable from region to region. Most other measurements were also inconsistent. During the 1300s, these measurements started to be fixed and standardized for t...Show More

Episode 114: The Craft of Numbering

1:07:19 | Jul 26th, 2018

The words for numbers are some of the oldest and most conservative words in most languages.  The English words for numbers can be traced back to the original Indo-European language, but during the early Middle English period, English speakers began …...Show More

Episode 113: A Zouthern Accent

1:02:41 | Jun 27th, 2018

In this episode, we turn our attention to the south of England and examine some of the unique features of the Middle English dialects spoken there after the Norman Conquest.  We also take a look at a poem composed in … Continue reading →

Episode 112: Northern Messenger

59:37 | Jun 8th, 2018

At the dawn of the 14th century, Edward I was forced to deal with a popular uprising in Scotland. At the same time, a poet in northern England composed the oldest surviving poem in the Northern dialect of Middle English … Continue reading →

Episode 111: Laying Down the Law

1:02:26 | May 10th, 2018

One of Edward I’s most notable accomplishments as King of England was the conquest of Wales, and his desire to extend that authority to the north of Britain led some to call him “The Hammer of the Scots.” But beyond … Continue reading →

Episode 110: Dyed In the Wool

1:02:56 | Apr 7th, 2018

In this episode, we explore important role of the wool and cloth industries in Medieval England. Not only was England a major producer of sheep and wool, it also developed its own cloth industry in the 1300s. This was also … Continue reading →

Episode 109: The Romantic Warriors

56:25 | Mar 8th, 2018

In the late 1200s, romantic literature started to be composed in English for the first time.  The oldest surviving English romance is a poem called King Horn. In this episode, we explore the poem and examine the linguistic developments revealed … Con...Show More

Episode 108: On the Move

55:54 | Feb 9th, 2018

In this episode, we look at the movement of people and their money in the 13th century. This was a period when international trading networks carried goods and people to the far-flung corners of the known world. This was also … Continue reading →

Episode 107: Parlez-Vous Anglais?

49:11 | Jan 15th, 2018

Even though English writing started to re-emerge in the early 1200s, government and legal documents remained the exclusive domain of Latin and French.  English finally found a voice in the English government in the mid-1200s with a series of governme...Show More

Episode 106: An Illuminating Development

57:23 | Dec 31st, 2017

The 12th and 13th centuries saw the saw the transfer of book production from monasteries to professional bookmakers. In this episode, we look at the birth of the Medieval book trade. We also examine how early illuminators worked with color, … Continu...Show More

Episode 105: Suffix Summary

48:29 | Dec 25th, 2017

In this episode, we explore some of the suffixes that were in common use in the early 1200s at the time the Ancrene Wisse was composed. These include traditional Old English suffixes, as well as several new suffixes that were … Continue reading →

Episode 104: Prefix Preferences

57:33 | Dec 19th, 2017

During the early Middle English period, many loanwords from Latin and French were borrowed into English.  Very often, those loanwords came in with prefixes and suffixes that were new to the English language. Many of those new affixes appear for … Con...Show More

Episode 103: Solitary Confinement

57:29 | Dec 2nd, 2017

The early 13th century saw the rise of a monastic movement in which men and women locked themselves away in secluded cells to practice their religion.  These monks were known as anchorites, and an early Middle English text called the … Continue readi...Show More

Episode 102: A Medieval Glossary

59:25 | Nov 6th, 2017

In this episode, we explore the notes and translations left behind by scribes in the margins of Medieval manuscripts.  Those marginal notes reveal numerous insights about the state of English in the early 1200s.  Those early glosses and translations ...Show More

Episode 101: The Birth of English Song

1:02:37 | Oct 12th, 2017

Advances in musical notation allowed the first English folk songs to be preserved in writing in the early 1200s. These songs include “Mirie It Is While Sumer Ilast”  and “Sumer Is Icumen In.” In this episode, we explore the Greek … Continue reading →

Episode 100: Decoding English

52:04 | Sep 25th, 2017

In this special 100th episode, we review the major consonant sound changes that have impacted English since the Proto-Indo-European language.  These sound changes provide us with a set of general rules that we can use to distinguish loanwords from na...Show More

Episode 99: The Second French Invasion

1:10:04 | Sep 9th, 2017

The early 13th century saw the arrival of a new wave of Frenchmen on the English shores. Some came as conquerors, and some came as nobles and courtiers looking for land and titles. During this period, Norman French started to … Continue reading →

Episode 98: The Great Debates

59:34 | Aug 17th, 2017

Magna Carta is often presented as the culmination of a dispute between King John and his barons, but it didn’t settle the debate. In fact, the charter actually sparked a new debate over the power of the king.  That debate … Continue reading →

Episode 97: Let’s Put It In Writing

1:02:15 | Jul 27th, 2017

The early 13th Century saw a massive increase in the production of government documents, including charters and official letters.  In this episode, we explore the changing role of the written word in the Middle Ages. We also examine how King … Contin...Show More

Episode 96: From Alpha to Omega

57:51 | Jul 7th, 2017

During the early Middle English period, the long vowel sound represented by letter A started to shift to a new sound represented by letter O.  In this episode, we explore this early vowel shift, and we also explore the dispute … Continue reading →

Episode 95: Old School and New School

1:07:57 | Jun 15th, 2017

The 12th and 13th Centuries saw the rise of new institutions of higher learning called “universities.” In this episode, we look at the changing educational system in Western Europe and the rise of Oxford and Cambridge.  We also explore the … Continue...Show More

Episode 94: From British Legend to English King

1:05:18 | May 24th, 2017

The first version of the King Arthur legend to be composed in English is found in Layamon’s 13th century poem called Brut.  In this episode, we explore Layamon’s version of the story, and we examine how the text reveals certain … Continue reading →

Episode 93: The Two Arthurs

1:01:55 | Apr 22nd, 2017

In this episode, we look at the rivalry between John “Lackland” and Arthur of Brittany for control of the Angevin Empire.  John eventually emerged victorious, but in the process, he set in motion the events that led to the loss of Normandy and most …...Show More

Episode 92: The Lion Kings

51:03 | Mar 29th, 2017

During the Middle Ages, lions were adopted as symbols of European royalty. Many monarchs also acquired nicknames related to lions. That included Richard the Lionheart. In this episode, we explore the origin of that nickname, and we examine the popula...Show More

Episode 91: Traders and Traitors

1:17:24 | Mar 8th, 2017

During the Crusades, Christian forces and Muslim forces traded blows in the Holy Land.  At the same time, Europeans and Arabs traded goods through an extensive trading network that passed through the Near East and the Mediterranean. In this episode, ...Show More

Episode 90: Healers, Hospitals and Holy Wars

59:45 | Feb 15th, 2017

In this episode, we turn our attention to the Near East to explore the spread of the Islam and rise of Muslim science in the Middle Ages.  This scientific and literary revolution in the Near East contributed to the English language in some … Continue...Show More

Episode 89: ‘I Before E’ and All That

51:42 | Jan 23rd, 2017

During the Middle English period, scribes developed a variety of spelling innovations to distinguish the sound of the various vowels. Some of those innovations were borrowed from French, and some were native to English.  In this episode, we explore t...Show More

Episode 88: The Long and Short of It

53:12 | Jan 4th, 2017

The Middle English document called the Ormulum is a goldmine for historical linguists because the text explicitly indicated how the vowel sounds in the text were to be pronounced.  The text was written at a time when the vowels in many words were cha...Show More

Episode 87: The First Spelling Reformers

55:51 | Dec 7th, 2016

Following the Norman Conquest of England, the French-educated scribes encountered the English language used by the Anglo-Saxons. The new scribes discovered unfamiliar letters and strange spellings. Early Middle English documents like the Ormulum show...Show More

Episode 86: Family of Rebels

49:45 | Nov 15th, 2016

The final years of Henry II’s reign were consumed with putting down rebellions. Those rebels included Henry’s sons and wife.  In this episode, we explore Henry’s family of rebels. We also examine the book of homilies known as the Ormulum. … Continue ...Show More

Episode 85: How to Run an Empire

59:12 | Oct 24th, 2016

The massive realm of Henry II extended from southern France through the British Isles. The administration of the so-called “Angevin Empire” required an extensive bureaucracy. In this episode, we examine some of the key government officials who admini...Show More

Episode 84: Law, Order and Murder

1:00:56 | Sep 29th, 2016

In the wake of civil war and anarchy in England, a crime wave gripped the nation. Murders and other violent crimes were rampant. Henry II sought to reimpose law and order throughout the country by reforming the English legal system. … Continue readin...Show More

Episode 83: A Trilingual Nation

52:50 | Sep 5th, 2016

During the reign of Henry II, the speech of England was dominated by three languages – English, French and Latin. In this episode, we examine the relative roles of those three languages, and we also explore how the social barriers … Continue reading ...Show More

Episode 82: A Marriage for the Ages

52:45 | Aug 3rd, 2016

The marriage of Matilda’s son, Henry, to Eleanor of Aquitaine was a crucial event in the history of England and France. It produced a powerful realm which contributed to the return of peace and the end of Anarchy.  In this … Continue reading →

Episode 81: Love Songs and Troubadours

57:47 | Jul 15th, 2016

While civil war raged in England, a completely different culture was flourishing in southern France. In this episode, we explore the opulent court of Aquitaine and the rise of the troubadours. Love was in the air as a new type of poetry … Continue re...Show More

Announcement: 10 American Presidents Podcast

01:43 | Jul 1st, 2016

Check out the 10 American Presidents podcast for an episode about the development of American English and the influence of presidential speech on American English.

Episode 80: Knight Life

1:04:54 | Jun 23rd, 2016

Much of the devastation of the Anarchy was carried out by knights who acted as thugs and bullies. For several generations, knights had served as the strongmen of western Europe. By the 12th century, the nature of knighthood was starting to change. … ...Show More

Episode 79: Anarchy

49:46 | May 18th, 2016

In the years after Matilda’s return to England, the country descended into chaos and civil war. This period is known by modern historians as the Anarchy. The events were recorded by a scribe in Peterborough who wrote in an early … Continue reading →

Episode 78: Under Siege

53:57 | Apr 29th, 2016

In this episode, we explore the outbreak of civil war in England as forces loyal to Matilda took up arms against King Stephen. The civil war led to a breakdown of central authority. The power vacuum was filled by local … Continue reading →

Episode 77: Rival Relatives and the Land of Scots

50:55 | Apr 11th, 2016

Following the death of Henry I, the king’s nephew Stephen seized the throne and claimed the English throne before Matilda could get to England. We examine the reasons why Stephen was considered an acceptable alternative to Matilda. As soon as … Conti...Show More

Episode 76: The Gender Problem

48:26 | Mar 25th, 2016

The final continuation of the Peterborough Chronicle captured a major change in the history of the English language. That change was the loss of grammatical gender. The traditional distinctions between masculine and feminine nouns disappeared in the ...Show More

Episode 75: Mixed Languages and Scrambled Eggs

0:00 | Mar 2nd, 2016

In this episode, we continue our look at the gradual emergence of Middle English from the linguistic rubble left in the wake of the Norman Conquest. English remained fractured and broken, and foreign influences continued to come in. We explore … Cont...Show More

Episode 74: Head Cities and Home Towns

0:00 | Feb 15th, 2016

The population of England grew significantly in the centuries following the Norman Conquest of England. That development led to the growth of villages, towns and cities. During that period, London also emerged as the capital of England. In this episo...Show More

Episode 73: Possession, Power and Checkmate

0:00 | Jan 30th, 2016

In this episode, we explore the connections between possessions and power – especially political power.  No Medieval king exemplified that connection better than Henry I of England.  Henry valued his possessions, and he made sure to collect every pen...Show More

Episode 72: The Dark Ages of English

0:00 | Jan 11th, 2016

The early part of the 12th century represented the darkest days of the English language.  English writing had almost disappeared, and spoken English was divided among a variety of regional dialects that were often incomprehensible to speakers in othe...Show More

Episode 71: On The Hunt

0:00 | Dec 5th, 2015

In this episode, we explore the events leading to the death of William the Conqueror. And we’ll look at the reign of his son and namesake, William Rufus. The story of William’s succession is also the story of a sibling … Continue reading →

Episode 70: Mind Your Manors For Pete’s Sake

0:00 | Nov 15th, 2015

For more than a century following the Norman Conquest, English writing fell out of favor. During that hiatus, French words continued to flow into English. A lot of those words were associated with the manors that dotted the English countryside … Cont...Show More

Episode 69: From Conquest to Domesday

0:00 | Oct 30th, 2015

In the two decades that followed the Norman Conquest, most of the land in England passed into the hands of French-speaking nobles. This process not only brought the feudal system to England, it also brought the French language to the … Continue readi...Show More

Episode 68: Rebels With a Cause

0:00 | Oct 16th, 2015

It may come as a surprise that William the Conqueror embraced English after the Norman Conquest.  He also maintained much of the existing Anglo-Saxon bureaucracy. Had William continued those policies, the English language would be very different toda...Show More

Episode 67: The Year That Changed English

0:00 | Sep 18th, 2015

In this episode, we look at the events of 1066 – one of the most important dates in the history of English. Of course, this was the year of the Norman Conquest and the beginning of the end of Old … Continue reading →

Episode 66: Broken Promises and the Eve of Conquest

0:00 | Aug 20th, 2015

Many scholars consider the Norman Conquest of England to be the most important event in the history of the English language. The man who directed that conquest was William of Normandy. In this episode, we examine William’s rise from a … Continue read...Show More

Episode 65: Norman Dukes and Dialects

0:00 | Jul 31st, 2015

In the century before the Norman Conquest of England, Normandy gradually emerged as a powerful player in the politics of northern Europe.  Meanwhile, the language of the Normans underwent a major transition. The original Scandinavian language of the ...Show More

Episode 64: Feudalism and Early Normans

0:00 | Jul 10th, 2015

The Normandy of William the Conqueror was a product of the feudal age of Western Europe. In this episode, we explore the history of feudalism, and we examine words associated with feudalism which entered the English language. We also look … Continue ...Show More

Bonus Episode 7: Stuffed Animals

0:00 | Jun 25th, 2015

In this bonus episode we look at the etymology of certain words related to animals. We also examine words related to stuffing.

Episode 63: Restorations and Remedies

0:00 | Jun 2nd, 2015

In this episode, we explore two different types of restorations. We begin with the restoration of the traditional West Saxon monarchy under Edward the Confessor.  Edward’s nickname reflects his piety and his purported ability to cure sick people with...Show More

Episode 62: Flesh and Blood

0:00 | May 11th, 2015

In this episode we explore two aspects of the term ‘flesh and blood.’ We examine the human body from the perspective of the Anglo-Saxons by looking at their words for parts of the body. We also explore Old English words associated … Continue reading ...Show More

Episode 61: Earls and Churls

1:01:32 | Apr 22nd, 2015

During his reign as King of England, Canute established a new class of nobles who became known as earls. The authority of the earls was second only to the king himself. The king and the nobles ruled over the common … Continue reading →

Episode 60: Danes, Death and Taxes

0:00 | Mar 30th, 2015

In this episode, we explore the Danish Conquest of England in the 11th century.  The Danish victory brought a temporary end to Anglo-Saxon rule, but it didn’t bring an end to death and taxes. We examine the etymology of words … Continue reading →

Episode 59: Let’s Make A Deal

0:00 | Mar 11th, 2015

The decline of the Anglo-Saxon Golden Age occurred in the late 900s as the English kingdom passed from King Edgar to his son, Aethelred the Unready.  it was a period surrounded by many deals, contracts, bargains and treaties.  We examine … Continue r...Show More

Episode 58: Bibliophiles and Bookworms

0:00 | Feb 18th, 2015

The late 10th century and early 11th century was the Golden Age of Old English literature.  But much of the literature produced during that period was lost to history. Thankfully, a handful of book collectors realized the value of those … Continue re...Show More

Episode 57: The Wessex Literary Revival

0:00 | Jan 28th, 2015

After the defeat of the Vikings in York, England was permanently unified under Wessex leadership. A period of peace and prosperity followed. Under the supervision of a cleric named Dunstan, the churches and monasteries were re-built and a great liter...Show More

Episode 56: The Weak vs The Strong

0:00 | Jan 15th, 2015

Do you say ‘dived’ or ‘dove’? How about ‘shrank’ or ‘shrunk’? And when do you say ‘hanged’ instead of ‘hung’? We’ll explore the answers to these questions in this episode. The answers lie in the history of the English language … Continue reading →

Episode 55: To Be or Not To Be

0:00 | Dec 30th, 2014

‘To be or not to be?’ That may be the question. But where did the various forms of our modern verb ‘to be’ come from?  And what about other Shakespearean phrases like ‘he hath,’ and ‘thou shalt,’ and ‘fear not?’ … Continue reading →

Episode 54: Pronoun Pros and Cons

0:00 | Dec 13th, 2014

The Modern English pronouns were largely inherited from the Anglo-Saxons.  While many of them have survived in tact, others have changed quite a bit over the centuries. Some disappeared, some new ones were created, and some were even borrowed from … ...Show More

Episode 53: The End of Endings

0:00 | Nov 24th, 2014

In the 10th century, several factors came together in northern England which resulted in the loss of Old English inflectional endings. This was a fundamental change to English grammar which simplified word forms and led to a fixed a word … Continue r...Show More

Episode 52: Bloody Axes and a Battle Royal

0:00 | Nov 7th, 2014

In the mid-900s, the English king battled a grand alliance of Celtic and Viking leaders at a place called Brunanburh.  The result was an Anglo-Saxon victory, and one of the more important poems composed during the Old English period. But … Continue r...Show More

Episode 51: Norse Words and a New English

0:00 | Oct 24th, 2014

During the 10th century,  the English language spoken in northern and eastern England began to change under the influence of Old Norse.  These changes resulted in a north-south linguistic divide which still exists today.  In this episode we examine h...Show More

Episode 50: A Unified Family of English Speakers

0:00 | Oct 9th, 2014

In the early 10th century, King Alfred’s children and grandchildren conquered the Viking region known as the Danelaw. This brought all of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms under the rule of a single monarch. That monarch was Aethelstan who became the first … ...Show More

Episode 49: Vikings Among the English and French

0:00 | Sep 17th, 2014

Following the death of Alfred, there was a decade of relative peace between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes.  During this period, Scandinavian settlers continued to migrate to the Danelaw.  In this episode, we explore the early Scandinavian influence ...Show More

Episode 48: The Unity of Alfred’s English

0:00 | Sep 3rd, 2014

After defeating the Danes, King Alfred set about reforming the educational system of Wessex. His reforms promoted English to an unprecedented level.  His reforms required the translation of many texts from Latin to English, and Alfred himself assiste...Show More

Bonus Episode 6: Beowulf Deconstructed

0:00 | Aug 28th, 2014

In this bonus episode, Kevin Stroud discusses the new audiobook, “Beowulf Deconstructed.” An excerpt from the audiobook is included.

Episode 47: The Man Who Saved English

0:00 | Aug 4th, 2014

King Alfred is the only English monarch to be known as “the Great.” His struggles and ultimate victory over the Danes ensured the survival of the Anglo-Saxon culture and the English language.  In this episode, we explore the life of … Continue readin...Show More

Episode 46: Cynewulf and the Kindred Kings

0:00 | Jul 15th, 2014

In this episode, we look at the English terms associated with kings and nobility and explore the concept of Anglo-Saxon kingship. We also look at the poetry of the 9th century poet Cynewulf.  The link between kings and Cynewulf is … Continue reading ...Show More

Episode 45: To Coin a Phrase – and Money

0:00 | Jun 26th, 2014

At the end of the 8th century, Western Europe saw its most powerful kings to date.  That included Charlemagne in Francia and Offa in Britain.  Those kings shared a close relationship which extended to their currency. The establishment of an … Continu...Show More

Episode 44: The Romance of Old French

0:00 | Jun 6th, 2014

The modern French language evolved from a Latin dialect spoken in Gaul during the period of the late Roman Empire. That language ultimately became mixed with Old English after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Approximately half of the words in … Continue...Show More

Episode 43: Anglo-Saxon Monsters and Mythology

0:00 | May 21st, 2014

Many Anglo-Saxons believed in a world inhabited by monsters and mythological creatures. They also believed in the power of sorcery and witchcraft. These ideas are reflected in the literature of the Anglo-Saxons, most notably the epic poem Beowulf. In...Show More

Episode 42: Beowulf and Other Viking Ancestors

0:00 | May 7th, 2014

The Viking-era states of Denmark, Sweden and Norway emerged from several North Germanic tribes in Scandinavia.  These tribes also included the Geats who were prominently featured in Beowulf.  In this episode, we explore the early history of these tri...Show More

Bonus Episode 5: Odds and Ends

0:00 | Apr 25th, 2014

In this bonus episode we explore a few odds and ends which didn’t make into the earlier episodes.   We examine the Old English words related to knowledge and wisdom.  And we also look at the original terms for the … Continue reading →

Episode 41: New Words From Old English

0:00 | Apr 8th, 2014

The Anglo-Saxons created new words within Old English through the use of compound words, as well as standard prefixes and suffixes.   This process expanded the vocabulary of Old English and enabled the language to emerge as an important literary … Co...Show More

Episode 40: Learning Latin and Latin Learning

0:00 | Mar 21st, 2014

Long before the Normans arrived in England, the Anglo-Saxons were borrowing Latin words from the monastic culture which was emerging in the 7th and 8th centuries. In this episode, we explore the spread of monastic schools and scholarship in Anglo-Sax...Show More

Episode 39: Not Lost in Translation

0:00 | Mar 5th, 2014

The early Christian Church in Britain gradually embraced English as a way to spread to the message of the Church to the masses.  This required the translation of Christian words and concepts from Latin into English.   In this episode, … Continue read...Show More

Episode 38: Nobles, Nuptials and a Cowherd Poet

0:00 | Feb 17th, 2014

The kingdom of Northumbria emerged as a center of scholarship and learning during the 7th century. We explore the political and religious events which led to the Northumbrian Renaissance. We also explore the importance of strategic marriages and mari...Show More

Episode 37: Seafarers, Poets and Traveling Minstrels

0:00 | Jan 21st, 2014

Old English poets were ‘word weavers’ who often created new words to comply with the strict requirements of Germanic poetry. In this episode, we explore the role of the traveling minstrel in Anglo-Saxon culture.  We also explore the etymology of … Co...Show More

Episode 36: Finalizing the Alphabet

0:00 | Dec 23rd, 2013

We complete our look at the first Old English alphabet by exploring the remaining letters of the original alphabet.  The north-south divide resulted in distinct letters and different spelling conventions.  But over time, these differences blended tog...Show More

Episode 35: English Sounds and Roman Letters

0:00 | Dec 12th, 2013

As the sounds of English evolved in the 7th century, the first English scribes began to write the language with the Roman alphabet.  But the English scribes had to invent ways to represent the unique sounds of Old English.  In … Continue reading →

Episode 34: Sounds Like Old English

0:00 | Nov 27th, 2013

The sound of English began to change as soon as the first Anglo-Saxons arrived in Britain. We explore the specific sound changes which occurred and the impact which those changes had on modern English.

Episode 33: Missionaries and Manuscripts

0:00 | Nov 7th, 2013

In this episode, we explore the events which led to the first document written in the English language – the laws of Aethelbert of Kent.  We look at the rise of monasteries, the role of St. Patrick in the conversion … Continue reading →

Bonus Episode 4: Let Me ‘Buoy’ Your Spirits

0:00 | Oct 29th, 2013

How do you pronounce ‘buoy’? In this bonus episode, we explore the history of the word and the reasons why the word is pronounced differently in various parts of the English-speaking world.

Episode 32: The Oldest English

0:00 | Oct 18th, 2013

We explore the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and their regional Old English dialects.  The ‘Saxons’ soon become the ‘English.’  And ‘English’ provides the name of a new nation.

Episode 31: Saxons, Franks and Other West Germans

0:00 | Sep 25th, 2013

During the period of the Anglo-Saxon migrations, the West Germanic tribes of northern Europe continued to fight for power against the Romans and against each other. This period saw the emergence of the High German dialects, the creation of the … Cont...Show More

Episode 30: The Celtic Legacy

0:00 | Sep 6th, 2013

We explore the linguistic legacy of the native Celtic Britons on Modern English. The historical legacy of the legendary Celtic king named Arthur is also examined.

Episode 29: The Anglo-Saxon Invasion

0:00 | Aug 13th, 2013

The Anglo-Saxons arrived in the British shores as permanent settlers in the 5th century. They encountered native Britons who spoke Latin and Celtic languages. The two groups soon fought for control of the region we know today as England.  We … Contin...Show More

Episode 28: Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians

0:00 | Aug 7th, 2013

We explore the origins of the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians in the North Sea region of northern Europe. The early raids on the coasts of Britain and Gaul set the stage for the later mass migrations. The similarities between … Continue reading →

Episode 27: Broken Empire and Fractured Languages

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

Parchment books begin to replace papyrus scrolls as the Western Roman Empire crumbles. New Germanic Kingdoms emerge in the west, but Latin remains the dominant language in Western Europe.  Latin itself begins to fracture without the Roman educational...Show More

Episode 26: Imperial Crisis and the Goths

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

Rome is racked by ‘Imperial Crisis’ while strong Germanic tribes gather along the Rhine and Danube. The Alamanni, Franks, Vandals and Goths rise to power and provide us with many words in modern English. The Goths translate the Bible into … Continue ...Show More

Episode 25: Germanic Markings and the Runes

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We explore the expansion of Germanic tribes into the Danube region where the Germans encounter the Etruscan alphabet.  The Germanic runes develop and provide the first opportunity for the Germanic tribes to write their own language.

Episode 24: Germanic Mythology

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

The role of Germanic mythology on modern English is explored. Germanic gods and religious traditions are examined with an emphasis on words and phrases which are still found in modern English.

Episode 23: Tacitus and Germanic Society

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We explore the Germanic languages during the 1st century AD. The society of the early Germans is examined in the context of ‘Germania’ by the Roman historian Tacitus.  Modern English words originating during this period are also discussed.

Episode 22: Early Germanic Grammar

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We look at the grammar of the early Germanic tribes. The decreasing use of inflexions is explored. Elements of modern English grammar are identified within the original Germanic language.

Episode 21: Early Germanic Words

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We look at the first inscription found in a Germanic language and the vocabulary of the early Germanic tribes. The impact of Grimm’s Law on the early Germanic language is examined.

Bonus Episode 2: History of the Alphabet

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

Kevin discusses the new History of the Alphabet series. An excerpt from the series is included. The history of the ‘constant consonants’ (B,D,L,M,N,P,R,T) is explored.

Episode 20: The Early Germanic Tribes

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

The first Germanic-speaking tribes emerge in northern Europe.  We explore the connection between these tribes and the original Indo-Europeans.  We then look at the expansion of the Germanic tribes into the Celtic region of central Europe and their ea...Show More

Episode 19: The Romanization of Britain

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

The Roman Empire emerges following the death of Julius Caesar.  Emperor Claudius sets his sights on Britain, and the native Celtic culture becomes Romanized.  We look at the evolution of Latin words related to law, money and social classes.

Episode 18: Keeping Time With The Romans

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We explore the origin of modern English words related to time. A direct connection is made to the calendar reforms of Julius Caesar. The etymology of English words related to time illustrate the combined influences of the Germanic languages and … Con...Show More

Episode 17: Ancient Celts and the Latin Invasion of Gaul

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We look at the arrival of Celtic speaking people in Europe, and the invasion of Celtic Gaul by the Romans. Celtic is replaced by Latin in Western Europe, leading to the modern Romance languages. Celtic words in modern English are … Continue reading →

Episode 16: The Rise of Rome – and Latin

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We look at the rise of the Roman Republic from a small Italian city-state to the dominant political and military power of the Mediterranean. The expansion of Rome also led to the expansion of Latin which emerged as a common … Continue reading →

Episode 15: Etruscans, Romans and a Modified Alphabet

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

The first Indo-Europeans settle into Italy, but they encounter an existing civilization known as the Etruscans.  The Etruscans borrow the alphabet from the Greeks, and soon pass it on to the Romans. Our modern alphabet finally begins to emerge.

Episode 14: The Greek Word Horde

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

The Classical Greek period is explored with an emphasis on Modern English words which originated during this period of Greek history.

Episode 13: Greece, Phoenicia and the Alphabet

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

Mycenaean Greek writing disappears during the Greek Dark Age, but the Greeks encounter the Phoenicians and adopt their alphabet. The Greek alphabet results in the spread of literacy. Modern English words from this period of Greek history are examined...Show More

Episode 12: Early Greek, Hittite and the Trojan War

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

The first Greek and Hittite civilizations emerge from Indo-European tribes in the eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks adopt an early form of writing and fight the Trojans. An alphabet allows the ancient history of the Greeks to be recorded in the … Con...Show More

Episode 11: Germanic Ancestors

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We look at the emergence of the Usatovo culture which spoke an Indo-European dialect believed to be the ancient ancestor of the Germanic languages – including English. We also look at the later migrations of the Indo-European tribes throughout Europe...Show More

Episode 10: Early Indo-European Migrations

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

The emergence of the first Indo-Europeans and the early migrations of these steppe herders is examined.  The specific advantages favoring the expansion of these people is explored in detail.

Episode 9: Who Were the Indo-Europeans?

41:05 | Aug 5th, 2013

The evidence is examined to determine when and where the original Indo-Europeans lived.  Based upon this evidence, the probable identity of the first Indo-Europeans is revealed.

Episode 8: Indo-European Grammar (Where have all the inflexions gone?)

32:49 | Aug 5th, 2013

The grammar of the original Indo-European language is compared to Modern English. We explore the word endings called ‘inflexions’ which were a prominent feature of the original Indo-European language.

Bonus Episode 1

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

Kevin Stroud updates listeners regarding the podcast and the website for the podcast.   Kevin also answers some questions posed by listeners.

Episode 7: More Indo-European Words

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

We complete our review Indo-European words which have impacted modern English.  Social terms are explored to provide an insight into Indo-European society and culture.

Episode 6: Indo-European Words

37:08 | Aug 5th, 2013

A look at words used by the original Indo-Europeans and the clues such words provide to the identity of the first Indo-Europeans.  The etymology of modern English words is explored in relation to the original Indo-European words.

Episode 5: Centum, Satem and the Letter C

43:20 | Aug 5th, 2013

A look at the early division of the Indo-European languages into the Centum and Satem languages.  The sound shift which marks the division of the Centum and Satem languages is then explored in the context of the modern English letter … Continue readi...Show More

Episode 4: A Grimm Brother Resurrects the Dead (…language)

0:00 | Aug 5th, 2013

The famous fairy-tale collector Jacob Grimm formulated the rules which help modern linguists reconstruct the ancient Indo-European language.  In this episode, we look at Grimm’s Law and how the Germanic languages evolved from the original ancestral l...Show More

Episode 3: The Indo-European Family Tree

0:00 | Aug 4th, 2013

A look at the family tree of Indo-European languages and the relationship of English to those related languages. The closest relatives of English are highlighted, including the Germanic languages, Latin and Greek. We explore the background of English...Show More

Episode 2: The Indo-European Discovery

0:00 | Aug 4th, 2013

The story of the discovery of the ancient language which gave rise to most of the languages of Europe, including English.

Episode 1: Introduction

0:00 | Jul 31st, 2013

In this introductory episode, we look at the emergence of English as a global language and the evolution of the language from its Germanic origins.