Senses of the Past: The Old English Vocabulary of History

  • Catalin Taranu


How did the Anglo-Saxons think about history? Following a new path in an attempt to answer this question, this study examines individual Old English words translatable as 'history' and used in verse and prose texts and in glosses, and explores the mental conceptualizations they reveal. The approach offers a novel perspective on the complex and sophisticated attitudes of Anglo-Saxon cultural communities towards history and towards the dialectic between the preservation and re-enactment of the past. Inspired by cognitive linguistics, this lexicographical and semantic analysis argues that, in spite of this variety of ideas, the basic conceptualizations of history are essentially the same across the boundaries of genre, culture, and literacy/orality.
How to Cite
Taranu, C. (2012). Senses of the Past: The Old English Vocabulary of History. Florilegium, 29, 65 - 88. Retrieved from