The main languages that 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.

  • Stained Glass window Depicting Aldhelm

    Insular Latin

    Insular Latin is the broad term used to describe Latin written in Britain and Ireland.

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    Old English

    ‘Old English’ is the term used to refer to the earliest period in the history of the English language, from the first records until about A.D. 1100.

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    Old Norse

    ‘Old Norse’ is the term generally used in English to refer to the language and literature preserved in manuscripts written in Iceland and Norway during the Middle Ages.

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    Medieval Welsh & Cornish

    Medieval Welsh, or rather Old and Middle Welsh, is one of the surviving Brittonic Celtic languages along with Cornish and Breton.

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    Medieval Irish

    Medieval Irish, or more specifically Old and Middle Irish, refers to the period in the history of the Irish language from about 700 to about 1200 A.D.

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    Continental Celtic

    Continental Celtic describes the Celtic languages, now extinct, spoken in Continental Europe before the arrival of the Romans and distinguished from the Insular Celtic languages of Britain and Ireland.


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