Thursday, 2 October 2008

Speak like an Anglo-Saxon #4: At the dinner table

Presuming you're still alive by tea-time and you've suitably ingratiated yourself with the locals, you may well find yourself comfortably reclining with your ancestors. The cauldron is boiling; delicious smells waft through the hut and out of the chimney hole. You eagerly wait on your bench for the culinary delights... It's time for your best Anglo-Saxon table manners:

Please pass ... = Gif me ... ['Yif me'] (literally 'give me' - bluntness probably wasn't a bad thing...)

... the knife = ...þone seax ['thoh-ne say-axe']
... the cheese = ...þone ciese ['thoh-ne chee-eh-suh']
... the bread = ...þone hlaf ['thoh-ne h-laff']
... the delicacy = ...þone swetmete ['thoh-ne sweht-may-te']

If things aren't going too well and the food is less palatable than you'd hoped, the following phrase might come in handy:

I need the bucket immediately = Ic hæbbe nyd for þam fæt. Sona. ['Itch habb-e nid* for tham fat. Soh-na']


* The sound of Old English 'y' is hard to explain. Some say it's like the French 'u'. Try saying an English short 'i' with pursed lips... That might work. Or you might just look silly.

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