I want one

I Want One:

The Dictionary of Old English sounds like something I would love to be able to use.

Healey was quick to point out that the dictionary is consulted by scholars in a wide range of fields and disciplines: social historians who are studying words for rank and class, historians of economics who are examining records and terms of early taxes, and researchers of many stripes who are interested in working with the early form of a language in a linguistically pure environment as is presented by the corpus.

After listing all these reasonable arguments for why we need a dictionary of Old English she added, almost as an afterthought “Plus, it’s our language.”

It is our language indeed, and these four words from it that she uttered in an afterthoughtish way made me feel fiercely interested in seeing the rest of the words after the letter G defined. And this makes me think how odd it is that we are such ardent admirers of museums full of partially reconstructed bone fragments, taken from animals that are millions of years removed from us, and yet we find it so difficult to warm to Old English. While it is true that this is a dead language, it has died so recently (at least compared with the dinosaurs whose fossils are perennially alluring) that the corpse is still warm.

You can see the roots and traces of our language, evident even in the words that did not quite survive until the present day. Bealofus (liable to sin) did not last into our vocabulary, having been pushed out by the upstart and Latinate peccable (we apparently do not need more than a single word for this concept). But the bealoful of yesteryear became the baleful of today, and so even though bealofus lost the evolutionary battle it still tickles the familiar to see it there.
It's important to our concepts in other ways, too. Consider this piece on American Exceptionalism, a very current debate, which makes a reference to Benjamin Franklin's name.
The traditional Marxist claim about the U.S. was that it was governed by the executive committee of the bourgeoisie. This was not intended as a compliment, but it was largely true. Look at the archetypal American, Benjamin Franklin, whose name comes from the Middle English meaning freeman, someone who owns some property. Napoleon dismissed the British as “a nation of shopkeepers”; we are a nation of Franklins.
Actually, most of us don't hold land in the way a "Franklin" would have, i.e., in fee simple while owning no duties to anyone. The word shows the introduction of Norman concepts to England, as you can see by the way the etymology goes back to Middle English, but then veers off into Anglo-French and from there to Old French. The original members of the class had not been "franklins" in Old English, but thanes (as we are reminded by the character of Cedric the Saxon in Ivanhoe). The thanes had a connection of service, as knights did: the class was defined by their military service to the king. The Norman conquest stripped that from most of them, but left a class that had property and a certain strength, and so were left alone. Thus, they went from being 'retainers' to being 'freeholders' -- liberated, yet also lowered, since it was their service that entitled them to be considered members of the aristocracy. This, too, mirrors the knights -- they were a lower class than the nobility, but their status as being members of the overall aristocracy was in virtue of their service.

If we are 'a nation of Franklins,' then, we are a nation of free men -- but men who owe no service to the society or the government. That is at once a strength and a weakness.

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