Sunday, August 5, 2012

King Alfred's English

King Alfred’s English by The Shorter Word Press is designed for students Grades 7-12 and Adults.  It is a relatively short book and reads much like a well written novel.  If one wants to use it as primary text for a middle or high school English course there are supplemental materials available at the publisher’s website.  The supplemental material includes chapter worksheets, unit tests, and links to online literature, articles, images, and videos. 
I used the text for my own pleasure reading.  I gleaned a lot of interesting tidbits about the English language and various cultures.  For example, did you know that the word bodacious comes from a Celtic queen who led her people in successful battles against the Roman Army?  Bodacious, meaning outlandishly bold, describes the personality of this queen.   That’s a piece of interesting trivia.

The story of the English language is a long one with many winding roads and pit stops along the way.  I had to often backtrack in my reading to understand how one path led to another.  It is a story of ancient people groups being constantly invaded by other people groups, pushed out, spreading and mixing their language and culture with the surrounding area.  Language invasion after language invasion brought with it changes that are evident in our current English language. 

There is a lot of Biblical history woven throughout the text as well with stories about the impact Christianity had on developing language.  One piece of Christian trivia included the fact that the Irish used three-leaf clovers to explain the concept of the Trinity to Christian converts.   I didn’t know that.

The publishers do not claim to teach geography but I got a nice geography lesson reading about cultures that influenced Great Britain.  Great Britain itself is an interesting story of different cultures occupying the same country.  This relatively large island has separate areas with their own distinct language and culture.  Whenever you see distinct differences in culture between areas that are close together on a map, you can bet there are some geographical features that separate the two, something hard to cross like a wide desert or a rugged mountain range," (White, p4).

We studied the middle ages a year ago.  A lot of the historical information in the text was a review of our study.  It was really interesting to match this knowledge with the language changes occurring around this time.  In a homeschool setting, I would use this text as a supplement to a study of the middle ages.  It covers so much history of the time but focuses on the language and cultural influences that each people group brought to England.  For example when William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, ruled in England he moved many French aristocrats into government.  Consequently, French was spoken among the cultural elite.  Anyone who wanted to be anybody spoke French. The influences of this time period had lasting effects on the English language. We use such words as “a la carte,” “coif,” and “lingerie” – all words that entered the English language because of the influence of this time.

My thoughts:  King Alfred’s English is a great supplement to any European history class or Language Arts program.  Because the primary focus is the evolution of the English language, it works well with a study of English Literature.  It can be purchased from an online retailer like Amazon or Rainbow Resource for as low as $14.95.

See what my "crew mates" thought of King Alfred's English here.
Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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