Sunday, 26 April 2009

Speak like an Anglo-Saxon #11: Dating, tenth-century style

Unless the cloistered life calls you to live out your days in the comfort of the nearest monastery/nunnery, you might be starting to think about finding that special someone to make your bread/hunt some viking for you. When you’ve got your ale-goggles* ready, here are some gems to get you started:

“With what hasty hands I would rush into your embraces and with what eager lips I would kiss not only your eyes, ears and mouth but indeed the individual joints of each digit of your hands or feet, not once but many times”

Quam citatis manibus ruerem in amplexus paternitatis uestrae, et quam compressis labris non solum oculos et os, sed etiam mannum uel pedum singulos digitorum articulos, non semel, sed multiores oscularer.

(Ok, so this is in Latin and not Old English, but a real-life Anglo-Saxon monk actually wrote this in a letter to his “friend”. It was too good to miss out.)

“Is that a sword in your pocket...?” = Is þæt an seax in þinum pohan...? (the seax, incidentally, is what gave the Saxons their name) [“iss that ann say-axe in theen-um po *ch* (like loch) –an”]

“Quick, it’s 999 and the world’s about to end...” = Hwæt, todæg is 999 (nigon hundrað, nigontig-nigon) ond þisse middangearde bið swiðe læne.
[“H-wat, tow-day iss nee-yon hun-drath, nee-yon-tee-nee-yon ond this-se mid-an-yay-ard bith swi-the lay-ne”]

“Your place or mine?” = þin stow oððe min? [“thin stow oth-thuh min”]

“Your lips are as red as the blood of a slaughtered sheep” = þine lippe sindon swa read swa þa blode deades sceapes. [“theen-uh lipp-e sin-don swaa ray-ed swaa tha blowd day-ad-es shay-ap-es”]





* always drink ale responsibly.

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