A Dual Duel

"All three of these contexts reveal to us significant differences between the Anglo-Saxon psychology or anthropology and that of Present-Day English speakers."

A longtime client of mine recently posed a question about Old English in one of the big Facebook groups. She posed this question there, in spite of the fact that Not A Single Person in any of those groups knows anything about Old English except that which they can Google. None of them have actually studied Old English, nor the Anglo-Saxon period.

I'm pretty baffled about why she didn't just ask me. She's taken my Old English for Orthographers LEXinar, and I always welcome and enjoy questions from clients. I told her I was baffled, and she responded by saying that she thinks I'm too busy to answer questions. But that's like going to the mechanic for a root canal because you imagine that your endodontist was too busy, without even callingfor an appointment. I think she really doesn't understand that retired elementary teachers, speech pathologists, and Canadian artists don't get that kind of education.

But I did.

Her original question was not uninteresting. She wanted to know why Old English had a dual grammatical number in addition to singular and plural, but she edited her question to indicate that she only wanted "the psychological/anthropological perspective as in 'Why was the concept of dual/twoness important for the Old English (thinker's) mind.[']" She also clarified, "Not looking for genealogy/historic IE stuff."

So, not only does she imagine that the big SWI Facebook groups are knowledgeable about Old English grammar but also about Anglo-Saxon psychology and anthropology. Again, she doesn't seem to realize that those folks are not that well-educated, and certainly not in Anglo-Saxon cultural mindset.

But I am.

Once again, I do not care if that makes me sound arrogant. Everyone who reads Shameless Spelling is interested in literacy, language, and education – for what? Because education doesn't matter? Because no one cares about actual expertise? No. It's because you all value the education and understanding I have and am able to share with you. And I won't just feed you answers; I'll tell you where to find them.

The question itself, as well as the responses, are unsurprisingly rife with linguistic and conceptual errors. In this article, I'll reproduce, unpack, and answer the question and the big-group responses and offer the clarion understanding of grammar that I am known for.

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