Thursday, 16 November 2017

Coffee and headaches

"Athelstan! Coffee please!"
"Sorry dear, it hasn't been invented yet..."

Coffee cures many ills, including that sleep-deprived-headachey feeling that last all day long.

But you're an Anglo-Saxon so it doesn't exist for you.

Instead you'll have to look sad and whimper:

Ic dríege mid héafodece

I suffer with a headache

[Itch dree-egg-uh mid hay-aff-od-etch-uh]

Monday, 6 November 2017


It's 6 November and this morning we had our first proper frost on the wagon. Hey, I even had to scrape the ice off the goat before I took it to market today.

This one is easy:




You've got it! Frost is as Anglo-Saxon as you can get*

We used to have more words for frosty, chilly weather, like gicelgebland and hrirnigheard.  I personally like hriman, to cover with hoar frost. I guess with global warming that these words will become even more redundant...

*You could get it just a bit more Anglo-Saxon if you reverse the r-metathesis and say Forst, but either is fine,

Monday, 30 October 2017

Going for a run

I enjoy a nice leisurely run at lunchtime. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors probably did more running away than running around (away from dangerous beasties/vikings/*insert fear here), but, hey.

Here's one for you athletes:

Ic eom rynig

I'm good-at-running 

[Itch ay-om rrin-ig]

Eart  þu rynig?

Are you good-at-running?

[Ay-art thoo rrin-ig?]

Beware...rynig looks like a false friend. Don't tell people you're runny, or they'll ask what you ate and keep their distance...

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Speak like a Saxon: Are you my friend?

We're a nation of many peoples, right? Welcome, Romans! Angles! Welcome, Saxons! Welcome Danes and Norwegians (we'll forgive you for stealing our stuff, vikings) and French, Spanish, Polish, Moroccans, Algerians and all the rest. Let's all be nice to each other.

Bist þu min freond?

Are you my friend?

[Bist thoo min fray-ond?]

Ic eom þin freond

I am your friend

[Itch ay-om thin fray-ond]

Now, there are some more poetic words for 'friend'. You could replace freond with:

eaxlgestealla - shoulder-companion

fréawine - lord and friend

géowine - friend of old

sundorwine - bosom buddy

Friday, 25 August 2017

Bug hunting

A small person I know likes to go hunting for bugs in the garden. How would she fare back in Anglo-Saxon times?

Here's a short Old English bug list. I've given the definite articles so you can point at things and say "the bee!" or "the earthworm"

se bitela - the beetle [say bee-tell-a]

seo beo - the bee [say-oh bay-oh]

se eorðmata  - the earthworm [say ey-orth-mat-a]

se fléa - the flea [say flay-a]

seo nihtbuttorfléoge - probably a moth; literally a 'night butterfly' [say-oh niXt-butt-or-flay-oh-guh]

se tordwifel - the dung beetle [say tord-wiff-ul]

se wibba - the beetle or crawling thing [say wibb-uh]

se wyrm  - Dragon!!! Panic!!! Flee!!! Hide! [say weerm]

I omitted some of the more gruesome ones like 'tooth-worm' and 'intestinal worm'. You might find those on an Anglo-Saxon bug hunt, but they were too manky for a bit of lunchtime fun.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Farms (or not, as the case turns out to be)

First up - the barley yard...

seo berewic...

[say-oh bear-uh-witch]

I was going to write something interesting about farms and barley and all the rest, until I discovered this.

No way.

Thank you, Google.

Some genius has written an Old English Wikipedia.

My creative brain is now completely ruined, but, on the other hand: 

Seo Freo Wisdomboc!

The free wisdom book

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Speak like an Anglo-Saxon: Bees!

This is mostly thanks to wikipedia....

I know it's completely the wrong time of year for this, but as I was looking for something for World Soil Day, I came across this lovely charm for bees.

Never mind planting bee-friendly flowers, pollinator strips, wildflower meadows and the like, back in Anglo-Saxon times all you need to do* is say this simple poem and the little buzzers will swarm to you.

Sitte ge, sīgewīf,
sīgað tō eorðan,
næfre ge wilde
tō wuda fleogan,
beō ge swā gemindige,
mīnes gōdes,
swā bið manna gehwilc,
metes and ēðeles.

(translation by Greenfield, 1996)

Settle down, victory-women (i.e. bees),
never be wild and fly to the woods.
Be/bees -  as mindful of my welfare,
as is each man of border and of home.[4]

[Sit-uh yay, see-yuh-weef,
see-yath toe ay-orth-an,
nay-fre yay wild-uh
toe wood-a flay-o-gan,
bay-o yay swaa yu-min-dee-yu,
meen-us goad-es,
swaa bith man-a ye-hwiltch,
may-tes and eth-el-es]

You might as well chant "Esiotrot, esiotrot..." while you're at it...

*unverified claim alert