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Fun Friday: How Far Back in Time Could You Go and Still Understand English?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fun Friday 2013

For those of us who are fans of time-travel science fiction/fantasy costume dramas, we’re used to the standard trope that, with perhaps the addition of a few “period” words thrown in for flavor, the characters of that historical time period all speak mostly modern English and our modern characters can understand everything they’re saying.

As someone whose favorite undergrad major class was History of the English Language, who had to do translations of “English” texts from Old and Middle English, I get really frustrated by this glossing over the evolution of our language. (And don’t even get me started on the Stargate TV shows, which I love, but in which all the races, no matter the galaxy, speak perfect, modern English, even though the Ancients “seeded” their planets more than 10,000 years ago when English didn’t even exist and then left them to develop on their own.)

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