Thursday, 12 November 2009

Speak like a Saxon #13: Illness

The Anglo-Saxon period, like many historical periods until now, was a pretty rubbish time to be ill. For a start, no-one really knew what was wrong with you, and if your local 'doctor' or 'leechman' had to guess, he'd probably say it was elves. To help you get better there'd be some herbs, some communion wafers, a bit of walking in circles, maybe some wool and quite a bit of mumbo jumbo.

Things the doctor might say to you:

'What is it?' - Hwæt? [hwat]

'Have you got water-elf disease?' – bist þu on wæterælfadle? [bisst thoo on wat-ter-elf-ad-luh?] (a real disease, apparently - check out Bald's Leechbook if you don't believe me)

‘Go to a maiden’ - ga to an mædenman [gaa toe ann maid-en-man] (she'd then sing something at you. This was also in the pukka Anglo-Saxon medical book)

‘Sing this many times...’ - Sing þis manegum siþum... [sing thiss man-ay-um see-thum]


Things you might say to the doctor:

'I am injured! stupid vikings!' - Ic hæbbe awierdnese!!Dysige wicingas! [Itch hab-buh a-wee-urd-nes-uh! Doo-siy-uh wee-king-as!]

‘I have a dwarf’ – Ic hæbbe dweorh [Itch hab-buh dway-orch] (also a real disease)

‘I am sick’ – Ic eom seoc(for a man)/seoce (for a woman) [Itch ay-om say-ok(uh)]

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