West Saxon


West Saxon

West Saxon, primarily spoken in Wessex, was one of four distinct dialects of Old English. The three others were Kentish, Mercian and Northumbrian (the latter two known as the Anglian dialects).

There were two stages of the West Saxon dialect: Early West Saxon and Late West Saxon.

Early West Saxon was the language of King Alfred (849–899). By the eleventh century, the language had evolved into Late West Saxon. [ [http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/SESLL/EngLang/ugrad/OE/Appendix1.html Old English Plus. "Appendix 1."] ]

Late West Saxon was the dialect that became the first "standardised" written English ("Winchester standard"). This dialect was spoken mostly in the south and west of England around the important monastery at Winchester, which was also the 'capital city' of the English kings. However, while other Old English dialects were still spoken in other parts of the country, it seems that all scribes wrote and copied manuscripts in this prestigious written form. Well-known poems recorded in this language include "Beowulf" and "Judith". However, both these poems appear to have been written originally in other Old English dialects, but they were later "translated" into the standard Late West Saxon literary language when they were copied by scribes.

The "Winchester standard" gradually fell out of use after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Monasteries did not keep the standard going because English bishops were soon replaced by Norman bishops who brought their own Latin textbooks and scribal conventions, and there was less and less need to copy or write in Old English. Latin soon became the "language for all serious writing", with Anglo-Norman as the language of the aristocracy, and any standard written English became a distant memory by the mid-12th century.

Late West Saxon is the distant ancestor of the West Country dialects.

References


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  • West Saxon — n. 1. the Old English dialect of the West Saxons, the major literary dialect of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Wessex before the Conquest 2. a person born or living in Wessex (the kingdom) …   English World dictionary

  • West Saxon — 1. the Old English dialect of the West Saxon kingdom, dominant after A.D. c850 and the medium of nearly all the literary remains of Old English. 2. any of the English of the period before the Norman Conquest who lived in the region south of the… …   Universalium

  • West Saxon — noun 1》 a native or inhabitant of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Wessex. 2》 the dialect of Old English used by the West Saxons …   English new terms dictionary

  • West Saxon — noun 1. an inhabitant of Wessex • Hypernyms: ↑Saxon 2. a literary dialect of Old English • Hypernyms: ↑Old English, ↑Anglo Saxon 3. a dialect of Middle English • Syn: ↑Southwestern …   Useful english dictionary

  • West Saxon — noun Date: 14th century 1. a member or a descendant of the Saxons who occupied England largely south of the Thames, west of the Downs, and east of Dartmoor 2. a dialect of Old English used as the chief literary dialect in England before the… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • West Saxon — /wɛst ˈsæksən/ (say west saksuhn) adjective 1. of or relating to Wessex (def. 1). –noun 2. the dialect of Old English spoken in Wessex …   Australian English dictionary

  • west saxon lage — The laws of the West Saxons, who lived in the southern and western counties of England, from Kent to Devonshire, during the Anglo Saxon period. Dictionary from West s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. West saxon lage …   Law dictionary

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  • West Saxon Lage — The laws of the West Saxons, which obtained in the counties to the south and west of England, from Kent to Devonshire. Blackstone supposes these to have been much the same with the laws of Alfred, being the municipal law of the far most… …   Black's law dictionary


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