Peter Alexander Kerkhof, MA

In 2008 when I started this weblog I was still working on my BA in History at Leiden University specializing in the Early Middle Ages and their vernacular literatures. At the Leiden institute of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics I had the opportunity and privilege to follow introductory and advanced courses in many of the medieval vernaculars. Ancient cultures, Ancient languages, Ancient history. I am very passionate about all of them.

I named the weblog “wanana sculun Frankon” after the famous Old High German exhortation of Otfrid of Weissenburg in his 9th c. versified Liber Evangeliorum (Liber I, Cap. I 33-34): wánana sculun Fránkon, éinon thaz biwánkon, ni sie in frénkisgon bigínnen, sie gotes lób singen (Vollmann-Profe 1987: 36-37). We could translate this in Modern English as: Why should the Franks be the only ones to hesitate to begin to sing the praises of god in the Frankish language.

I chose this Old High German verse as the title for my blog because I wanted to write about the interdisciplinary field between Medieval studies and historical linguistics. In Early Medieval studies the vernaculars are grossly undervalued at the moment. This is due to severe revisionism of the twentieth century paradigm of Barbarian peoples and states on the part of the historians, while most historical linguists working with Early Medieval languages and cultures still succesfully use the paradigm in their inquiries into Early Medieval culture. This is why the title wanana sculun Frankon seemed strangely appropriate for voicing my concerns regarding the divide between the disciplines.

After my BA in History I chose to do a MA in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics, because there were so many cool old languages to be learned. I specialized in Indo-European word formation and the historical phonology of the western Indo-European languages. This summer I finished my MA in Comparative Linguistics Cum Laude with a MA-thesis entitled Suffix variation in the PGmc. l-suffixes and the ablaut of the PIE l-stems which was graded with a 9/10 mark. My supervisors suggested expanding this research into a PhD-thesis encompassing the PIE l-formations by and large, work on which I can hopefully start next year. When I have integrated the main critiques of my supervisors in my thesis, I will put it on for those of you who might want to read it.You can find me at:

What will I be doing now? This year I will mainly be preparing my PhD-research for the PhD-position next year, hopefully publish some of my research in academic journals and start writing a non-academic book about the languages in the Early Middle Ages.

This is also a good moment to think about what I want with this blog. In the past years I have posted articles on various subjects, from translations of Ossetic Nart sagas, North-East-Caucasian etymologies to musings on Romance sound laws and the usual Early Medieval stuff. I want to continue doing this, making this blog an academic outlet for my ideas on Comparative Linguistics, Old Germanistics and Medieval studies. Right now I am getting some introductory notes into Proto-Semitic from a friend who is now doing a PhD in comparative Semititic linguistics and I am being taught about the history of the Berber languages by a friend who is doing a Phd in comparative Berber linguistics (visit his weblog at I might also try to expand my knowledge of Japanese, so my linguistics articles may more often cross the boundaries of the Indo-European language family than my readers might be used to. Because I write these posts in my spare time and the articles are not always carefully proofread, typo’s may slip in. If you find them, be so kind to point out these typo’s so I can correct the article. If you have questions, remarks or just feel the urge to respond to my articles, please do so. Everybody loves a good discussion.

Kind regards,

Peter Alexander Kerkhof

PS. Because weblog.leidenuniv has changed the weblog editor from B2evolution to WordPress the layout of my old articles has been ruined. I will try to repair them in the coming months. Hang on!

2 responses to “Peter Alexander Kerkhof, MA

  1. marie-louise gerla

    “…. a non-academic book about the languages in the Early Middle Ages.

    Daar kijk ik naar uit! Keep me posted, en gefeliciteerd met je MA

  2. Congratulations on your MA. Although not a linguist nor an historian, I’m an avid reader of your blog. So keep up the posting once in a while. Kind regards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *