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Where can I learn about Old English spelling?
Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon) is an early form of the English language that was spoken in Britain some 1,000 years ago. It was a Germanic language. Unlike Modern English, Old English was pronounced very much like it was spelled. The silent letters of Modern English therefore did not often exist in Old English. There is still a lot in common between Old English and Modern English, but the Old English spellings make it look alien. One must learn to interpret the distinctive symbols of Old English. There are no capital letters. Some of the letters were even a different shape: an elongated shape for s and the letters e, f, g, r, w also look quite different. J and v did not exist and the letters f, q, x, z were rarely used. The combination æ was used, but gradually died out during the 8th century. The standard Old English alphabet had 24 letters: a, æ, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, þ, ð, u, w, y. Several of these letters were used in combinations (digraphs) to represent single-sound units. In Old English, there was a great deal of variation, due to the preferences of different scribes and attempts to capture regional sounds in a precise way. Old English spelling was much more muddled than Modern English spelling. Spelling did not become more regular until the time of Ælfric in the late 10th century. Old English usage extended some 700 years or so from approximately 450 AD to some time after the Norman invasion of 1066, when the language underwent a major and dramatic transition, now referred to as Middle English. Most students now learn using normalized versions of Old English, and are only introduced to variant spellings after they have mastered the basics of the language.