Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Found an interesting podcast here yesterday made by someone recording the entire Heliand, the largest written work in the Old Saxon (Old Low German) language, which is documented from the 8th to the 12th century.
See here for the entire text of the Heliand, but to begin hearing what it sounds like right away first go to this page (one chapter), and click here to download the corresponding mp3. It's quite clear that Old Saxon and Old English were quite similar languages, and along with that so was Icelandic at the time (see here and here for some more on that), apparently mutually comprehensible with Old English.
To see a comparison between Old Saxon and modern German, see here on the German Wikipedia. Old Saxon definitely looks a lot more familiar than German to English eyes - compare Welt with werold (world), über with obar (over, about), das with that, Landschaft with landskepi (landscape), and alle diese with al that. Even just listening to the recorded mp3s from the site you can hear it too - those that have never learned any German will find it a bit easier to understand than modern German.