LNG 201
Prof. G. Steinberg

For a map of the spread of Indo-European languages, click here.

Click here for a map of Europe.

Indo-European Languages

Here is how to count in a dozen languages, using standard Roman alphabet transcriptions (not phonetic transcriptions).  Six of these languages are Indo-European and six are not.  Which are which?

Language 1 en twene thria fiuwar fif
Language 2 jeden dva tri tyri pt
Language 3 i liang san ssu wu
Language 4 ekas dvau trayas catvaras paca
Language 5 ichi ni san shi go
Language 6 echad shnayim shlosha arbaa chamishsha
Language 7 mot hai ba bon nam
Language 8 n duos trais quatter tschinch
Language 9 hana tul set net tasot
Language 10 yaw daw dree tsaloor pindze
Language 11 uno dos tres cuatro cinco
Language 12 nigen khoyar ghorban durben tabon

Grimm's Law and Germanic Languages

Proto-Indo-European Sound Germanic Latin Later English Borrowing
p f (father) p (pater) paternal
t q (three) t (tres) trio
k h (hound) k (canis) canine
b p (lip) b (labium) labial
d t (two) d (duo) dual
g k (acre) g (ager) agriculture
bh b (brother) f (frater) fraternal
dh d (mead) f, l, or w (mel) mellifluous
gh g (wagon) h (veho) vehicle

Fill in the missing English words below.

Proto-Indo-European Sound Latin Later English Borrowing Original English Word
p piscis Pisces  


d decem decade  


k centum (c = k) century  


bh, g fragilis fragile  


Old English

For a map of the homeland of the Anglo-Saxons on the Continent and a map of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England at the time of the Danelaw, click here.

For a web-based PowerPoint presentation on the cultural contexts of Old English, click here.

For an example of an Old English manuscript page, click here.

For the text of Beowulf, click here.

Translate the following passage from Old English into Modern English, paying special attention to the inflections on the nouns and articles.

To s elinges hame wron fela wera gegaderod.  a eorlas hfdon a mecas and a helmas ara Dena, a e hie on m campe ofercomon.  Sum geong eorl hfde one hafoc.  a ierlingas on hrfeste of am cerum wstmas alddon, and a fisceras on batum fiscas gefengon.

To look up vocabulary, click here.

To look up inflections, click here.

Middle English

Click here for a web-based PowerPoint presentation on Middle English.

Click here to see a map of the territories ruled by King Henry II of England.

This Emperour Prestre Iohn holt full gret lond and hath many full noble cytees and gode townes in his royalme and many grete dyuerse yles and large.  For all the contree of Ynde is deuysed in yles for the grete flodes at comen from Paradys at departen all the lond in many parties, and also in the see he hath full manye yles.  And the beste cytee in the yle of Pentexoire is Nyse at is full ryall cytee and a noble and full riche.  This Prestre Iohn hath vnder him many kynges and many yles and the lond of the grete Chane.  For the marchauntes comen not thider so comounly for to bye marchandises as ei don in the lond of the gret Chane, for it is to fer to trauaylle to.

Early Modern English

Click here for a web-based PowerPoint presentation on the Great Vowel Shift.

Click here for a web-based PowerPoint presentation on the Renaissance and Modern English.

Examine the following list of words from Modern English.  Given what you know about the Great Vowel Shift, how was each word probably pronounced in Middle English?  Transcribe each word into the International Phonetic Alphabet first as it is pronounced in Modern English and then as you think it was probably pronounced in Middle English.  NOTE:  The spelling ow was another way of writing ou.  So, treat the combination ow as if it were ou.  (A w is called double u because originally it was uu -- so that ow = ouu.)

Modern English
Middle English

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