The Got Medieval blog -- a not infrequently very informative blog on all things medieval -- has further thoughts on the whole "oldest English words" story that has been making the rounds of the Web lately. This was the story I wrote about yesterday . And it apparently hasn't gotten any better. It's gotten loonier and more hilarious. One can just imagine, for example, some medieval gentleman striding into Tully's(a local coffee venue I like much better than Starbuck's) in swishing chain mail and trying to order "something"! The help there would probably stare uncomprehendingly, especially if he was a medieval gentleman that didn't know any English, old or modern(yeah, there were plenty of those!). As for the help, they'd probably think he was some street crazy. Yeah we have some of those, and yeah, some of them "dress up" though I've never seen one in chain mail! Even if he did manage to order coffee, he probably wouldn't have any idea what it was, and even if he understood it was something to drink, the chances are, he wouldn't like it, and probably he would try to trash the place with his trusty sword or mace or whatever(Hollywood would love that, I'm sure!).
But it gets loonier, because there is a related story about the oldest word. Not just the oldest English word. The oldest word!. Got Medieval conjures up a visit to some cave family in their humble cave, with the "medieval" and the "time traveler" attempting to communicate. Or maybe the cavepeople try to travel forward in time, to Tully's, and they are presented with coffee and try to drink some. It doesn't exactly conjure up the Geico caveman, does it? And whether or not they had words that in any way, shape, or form, were related to any modern words, English or otherwise, is, despite the efforts of the scientific gentlemen, completely unknown. Still, I see a sitcom in there somewhere. . . .