Sunday, 27 December 2009

Speak like a Saxon #21: Christmas

'Merry Christmas!' - gesælige cristesmæsse! ["ye-sail-ee-yuh krist-es-mas-uh"]

What to do at Christmas time? Rejoice and be merry like the Anglo-Saxons! God Almighty sought out this world and dwelt among us. Like Christians today, the Anglo-Saxon Christians celebrated the incarnation of God at this time in the deep midwinter, remembering God's immeasurable mercy and salvation. As one Anglo-Saxon writer (in a tenth-century sermon) said: 'In these days the king of all kings and the ruler of all rulers came to this world from heaven out of love for us". God made man, who in turn was to die and be raised again to everlasting life was as much cause for celebration then as it was now.

'Let's rejoice and be merry' - Utan we blissian and gefeon ["oot-an wey bliss-ee-an and ye-fey-on"]

'Then Mary gave birth to her son, wrapped him in swaddling bands and laid him in a manger' - þa cende Maria hio sunu, and hio mid claðum hine bewand and on binne* alegde ["thaa ken-duh Mar-ee-a hee-o sun-oo and hee-o mid claa-thum hee-nuh be-wand and on bin-nuh a-ley-duh"] (This is from Vercelli Homily 5)

'Glory to God in the highest!' - Wuldor sie Gode on heannesse ["wul-dor see-yuh Go-duh on hey-aa-ness-uh"]

* Yes, that's right. Bin.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Speak like a Saxon #20: pets

What will you choose as your four-legged, furry friend? Will it be the old faithful hound or the kitty (like one Old Irish scholar who loved his cat so much the puss featured in a poem)? A goat? A sheep? A minipig?*

'There's not much meat on that' - þæt hæfð lytel æte ["that haf-th loot-el ate-uh"]

'This is my house-chicken' - þeos is mine hamhenn ["they-oss iss meen-uh haam-hen"]

'Come here, Athelstan!' - Cum her Aðelstan! ["Cum hair Ath-el-stan"]

'Heel!' - Hela! ["hey-la"]

'No Ethel, you take the dog for a walk' -Ne Eðel, nimst þu docgan to gaenne ["Ney eth-el, nim-st thoo dog-an toe gaa-en-uh"]


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Speak like a Saxon #19: in the office

I paraphrase an unknown tenth-century Anglo Saxon sermon-writer here: laziness leads to disease; hard work to salvation*... something to bear in mind while you're sitting at your desk 'working' away and eyeing up the biscuit tin for longer than is really necessary. Assuming you are working, though, you'll be needing some Old English phrases to describe your day. Some geniuses put together an Old English computer glossary a while ago, and we're all hugely indebted to them ( .

'My computer has crashed. I can't do anything' - Min searowundor forbrecede. Ic mæg nanwuht wyrcan. ["Min sey-arr-o-wun-dor for-breck-e-duh. Itch may nan-wucht woor-kan"]

'Where has the internet gone??!' - Hwær cwom eormengrundwebb??! ["H-warr kwom ey-or-men-grund-webb"]

'We have a virus' - We habban wælwyrm ["wey hab-ban whale-woorm"] (this technically means a 'slaughter-worm'!)

'Hail the webmaster/webmistress' - Wes þu webba/webbestre hal ["wess thoo web-ba/web-es-tre haal"]

* written in Vercelli Homily VII. NB this doesn't, of course, take into account salvation by faith (see Romans 3:21-31)

Speak like a Saxon #18: wearing all your clothes at once

Grendel was miserable when he had to traipse, outcast, through the cold, rimy, dingy fens, and so would you be too. Appropriate clothing is the key. Grendel and his mother hadn't heard of dressing for the weather, but you can keep out the chilly blasts with lots of nice furs and woollen stockings.

'This cap is made from hare'- þeos cæppe is gearwod of haran ["they-oss cap-uh iss ye-aar-wod off haa-rran"]

'I fear no hailstones' - Ic þracie nan hagolstanas ["Itch thratch-ee-uh nan hag-ol-stan-as"]

'My cape is thick' - Mine hacele is þicce ["Min hack-el-uh iss thick-uh"]

'My tunic is not short' - Min cyrtel nis lytel ["Min cur-tell niss loot-el"]

Sadly, there was no gortex footwear back in the day....

'Oh! there is snow in my shoe!' - Eala! Ic hæbbe snaw in mine calce! ["Ey-al-a! Itch habb-uh snaw in meen-uh kal-kuh"]

Angelcynn has an interesting article on Anglo-Saxon clothing here: