I saw a video on YouTube the other day that posed an interesting question: How far back would you have to travel in time before you wouldn’t be able to understand English? (See video below.)
It’s an intriguing thought. Although H.G. Wells has explored time travel in The Time Machine, his main character went to the future rather than the past. Time travel’s also been explored in the BBC series “Lost in Austen” (where the main character went back and forth from the Regency era), the Outlander series, the TV show “Sleepy Hollow,” among others.
My practical mind wonders about all the practicalities of going to another century. There would be the culture shock you’d face in actually arriving in another era, obtaining clothes so you’d fit in and acquiring enough cash of that era in order to stay somewhere (unless some kind person helped you out). There would be the regular tasks of everyday living, made different from this century by the lack of technology in the past or improved technology in the future. I’d probably struggle at first with reading and writing in that era, depending on which era it was.
Maybe one of these days somebody will build a virtual reality world that we could all visit with VR technology. Wouldn’t it be fun to go through a Gilded Age mansion or a castle, and actually see people moving around and conducting the activities of daily life?
I’d like to think that the basic character of people would still be the same, whatever era you went to, so that would help the transition. There would still be the kind and the evil, the powerful and powerless, the haves and the have-nots, the active joyseekers and the dreamers. While attitudes shift from society to society and era to era, I’m thinking that the basic character of people probably wouldn’t change very much.
But as the video points out, being able to communicate would get tricky the farther back you went. Words go in and out of fashion. Languages change as new words are added to the vocabulary, so you’d have to become familiar with all of that era’s language as it changed and grew. That would be fun to experience.
But mastering Geoffrey Chaucer’s English — hoo boy! That would be a challenge. I notice some of his verbs end in -en, just like German does. A sign of common roots?
Readers, ever fantasized about going to another era? What would you go to see? Let’s discuss.
(Video credit: Yestervid, YouTube.)