Olde & Middle

The differences between Them:

Ever wanted to write in “Olde English”? First, you need to understand what Old English is, what Middle English, and how it influenced our Modern (the one we use today) English. When I started researching for this particular blog post, I fell into a deep, deep rabbit hole – man, there’s a lot to this language rabbit hole.

You see that below (points with eyeballs at the scary image down there), that’s what I fell upon first thing – scary first meeting with old, and middle

The Daily Californian English. Illustration by William Pan / Staff
The Daily Californian English. Illustration by William Pan / Staff

Olde English

Did you know, there was no set or fixed word order for Olde English? That had to be confusing as all heck back then, how did our ancestors even begin to understand each other in written form? It was used from the 400s to the 1100s – respectively. Had nouns and verbs that had many inflectional forms and endings. That means the nouns and verbs had many groupings of letters to change the meaning of those nouns and verbs – modern-day examples would be a letter – letterS – letterING.

Runic to Modern

Olde English also has dative and instrumental case meanings. This means that an instrumental noun is one that is used to accomplish something (as the instrument of the action). In Olde, English instrumentals can be recognized as nouns in the dative case that are not indirect objects and are not preceded by a preposition.

It was originally used as a runic system and was influenced by Latin and Germanic languages but was later replaced with a Latin script.

A micro lesson on Olde English! Confusing if you ask me!

Middle English

Middle English came about as a way of standardizing the language in its written form. It was around 1100 that this system was developed which came after the Norman Conquest and was used until about 1400, parts of Middle English are still used today in Modern English, or at least the standards of grammar and syntax are.

Say what now?

It was used to simplify many inflectional forms, had a fixed word order, and shifted the written language to prepositional construction – which is a group of words made up of a preposition (such as to, with, or across), its object (a noun or pronoun), and any of the object’s modifiers (an article and/or an adjective).

The vocabulary for Middle English was related to around law, religion with an influence from the French language and culture.

Olde English & Middle English are also referred to as Medieval Enlgish! Thanks Pediaa.com for this cool graphic!

How does this tie into writing in Olde English you ask? Well, not the wisest choice for writing in if you ask me, might take you a whole English Ph.D. to get to writing in the Olde style, might be wise to choose Shakespearean English…but that’s a whole other blog post…or simply, choose Middle English as an alternative to both Olde and Shakespearean. Might save your sanity, I know it saved mine!

Shakespeare anyone?

Either way, however, you choose to write – write with gusto and write with passion. Write about how you want the world to see you and your work. To the Olde English choosers, I tip my hat to you sirs and madams, you have more courage and bravery than I could muster writing in the old ways of the English language.