Other founding members of the club are Aaron Van Berg and Ryann Horn. They met in their Old English class. Boyd and Van Berg are linguistic students who are interested in modern languages and languages that are no longer spoken.
“I wanted to convince the student body that old languages are not simply for the elite, nor for a niche group of academics,” Boyd said. “They are applicable to understanding meaning in culture and language even in the modern world.”
The club held its first meeting in January with five members. Since then, the membership has grown to 18.
“[Members] do not need extensive language knowledge or linguistics skills to enjoy or participate in the club,” Van Berg said. “Most members of the club are linguistics and anthropology students, with one member being a civil engineering major, but we would like to expand our member base.”
The club discusses the historical and cultural meanings of texts, such as “Beowulf,” and passages are read aloud.
“It’s fun to pretend to be a Roman centurion or a Viking warlord,” Boyd said.
Next semester there are plans to hold an Old Norse workshop. Paleography, which is the study of ancient handwriting, and techniques for reading manuscripts will be introduced at meetings too.
“When we have a good idea of how a language works and what it sounded like, then it can be used for communication rather than to just study,” Van Berg said. “Call it a novel version of a language restoration project.”
Boyd is graduating this semester and will be attending the University of Glasgow in Scotland to complete his master’s and doctorate in medieval studies.
“This club is for anyone interested in language, history, culture or anthropology,” Boyd said. “By using the language of these long past societies, one may be able to contextualize our own language and our own social interactions based on the foundation laid for us by the culture of the ancients.”
The club meets in Tivoli 329 at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays. Fall semester, the club plans on meeting twice a week, Van Berg said.