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Picture of zmježd
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Poetry in English is a Greek loanword, ultimately from the verb ποιεω (poieō) 'to make, create' (from PIE *kwei- 'to pile up, build, make'), related to cheetah amazingly enough via Sanskrit); poetry in German, Gedicht, is from a verb (dīhtan) that is a loan from Latin dictō 'to say often, pronounce; dictate; proscribe' (an augmented form of dicō 'to say')). The obsolete English verb dight is also from the same root. The Greek word for poet, ποιητης (poiētēs), literally 'one who makes', was borrowed by the Romans as poeta. (Aside: while most of the nouns in the Latin first declension (ending in -a) are feminine, there are a few exceptions like poeta, nauta 'sailor', and agricola 'farmer'.) The Old English word for poet, scop (whence our scoff and related to some Old Norse words for mocking, mockery) has dropped out of use. Two compounds, also long gone, are scopcræft 'poet's art; poetry' and scopleóþ 'poem'. Why would the speakers of English abandon their native words? Nobody knows.


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<Asa Lovejoy>
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quote:
Originally posted by zmjezhd:
The Old English word for poet, scop (whence our scoff and related to some Old Norse words for mocking, mockery) has dropped out of use. Two compounds, also long gone, are scopcræft 'poet's art; poetry' and scopleóþ 'poem'. Why would the speakers of English abandon their native words? Nobody knows.


Did the switch occur post-Norman invasion? It seems it became "cool" to use Latin and/or Greek borrowings once they took control. Did the very nature of poetry change from primarily bardic oral tradition to written at that time?
 
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Presumably Old Norse skald is also related to scop. Interestingly, scold comes from the same root. See http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=skald&searchmode=none


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quote:
Why would the speakers of English abandon their native words? Nobody knows.
Surely it was the Norman conquest? The only real audience for a poet was composed of people in the ruling (Norman French-speaking) class. A scop at the time would probably have starved faster than his later peers would have starved in their garrets. The life of an Anglo-Saxon peasant was nasty, brutish, and short, with no time for the finer things in life such as scopcræft.

Budding bards had to use the style of poetry used by the foreign invaders, with its alien concepts such as metre and rhyme.


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Surely it was the Norman conquest?

It was a rhetorical question. But, seriously, people like to point out the cow/beef, swine/pork thing all the time. Here there are no couplets. I would imagine that there was an office, official or de facto, of court poet, known as scop, under the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy, that was replaced in the new Norman court by a poet. The OED1 cites a use of scop from 1245 in the Brut of Layamon, where ironically a poet of the court of King Arthur is mentioned.


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