However, the limited distribution of certain poetic simplexes can serve as an index of the poetic conservatism of the poems in which these words occur.This conservatism could be due to a number of factors: genre, content (that is, heroic legend vs biblical or hagiographical), style, or date of composition.Before the advent of the French word in English, did people not dance? But previously, in Old English, they called it , also meaning ‘throw’. If you bring to mind some of the more energetic forms of dance, you can imagine how they might be seen as throwing your body around, or throwing out limbs and so forth. Although the lexicon has frequently been used in discussions of the dating of Old English poetry, little attention has been paid to the evidence that poetic simplexes offer. Menner used these words as part of an argument for an early date of Genesis A, an argument which hinged, in part, on lexical similarities between this poem and Beowulf, which he assumed was early.Although they used as zero-hour in OE times, I will here used the modern standard practice of counting from midnight: "Prica" (weak masculine gender) was a useful word which was used to mean both "quarter of an hour" or "a fifth of an hour".You could use to to show much before or after a particular hour it was, like in Modern English.And, crucially, it was in contact with Latin and with French.After the Norman Conquest, the ruling elite in England (in church as well as state) were French speakers.
, meaning ‘tremble’, and that is probably from a Frankish root.
As will emerge in the course of this discussion, the most straightforward explanation for this conservatism is that the poems which exhibit it were composed earlier than those which do not.
Other explanations are, however, possible, and the evidence of poetic words is hardly sufficient by itself to determine the dating of Old English poems.
Latin predominates in most types of writing in the immediately post-Conquest period.
When, quite soon afterwards, we find a flowering of vernacular writing in a number of different text types and genres, this is in French, not English.