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The Spoken Word


The main languages which can be studied in the ASNC Tripos are Insular Latin, Old English, Old Norse, Medieval Welsh, and Medieval Irish. An important part of learning any of these languages, and of appreciating the literature written in them, is knowing how they sound (or how modern scholars like to think they might have sounded).

At one level, an understanding of sound changes is essential to an understanding of the development of the language itself. At another level, we need to explore the relationship between the composition or oral performance of a work of literature and the text which has been transmitted to us in written form. Students are taught in class how to read aloud the texts which they are translating, whether they be in verse or in prose. Soon they will be declaiming their favourite poems to their friends! Here you can hear for yourselves the languages we study. We have recorded short extracts of texts in languages studied on the course.

Each reading is accompanied by introductory material about the language and the work of literature in question as well as the original text, with a translation. We hope you’ll enjoy listening to them.

Please note that this website uses some new web technologies so you should use an up-to-date version of a standards-compliant browser such as Opera, Firefox or Google Chrome to view the site. Internet Explorer 8 users should find that everything works but will need to have Java installed for audio. Safari users will need Xiph Quicktime components (for best results) or Java. There is also a download link for each audio clip, which can then be played in a media player such as VLC.