Sunday, 13 June 2010

Speak like a saxon #27: Party games

It's barbecue/garden party/pimms season, and if you're in search of a new ice-breaker or game, then look no further than the Anglo-Saxons. They had riddles aplenty that would get the old monks and farmers scratching their heads in wonder.
Can you guess what the answer is?

Nis min sele swige, ne ic sylfa hlud
ymb dryhtsele; unc dryhten scop
siþ ætsomme. Ic eom swiftra þonne he,
þragum strengram he þreohtigra.
Hwilum ic me rest; he sceal rinnan forð.
Ic him in wunige ā þenden ic life;
gif wit unc gedælað, me bið deað witod.

My soul is not silent, nor am I myself loud
around splendid hall; us two the Lord created
at the same time. I am faster than he,
at times he is the stronger enduring.
When I rest myself, he runs forth.
I dwell in him all the time I live;
if we two are separated, I will die.

Here’s how to say it:
[Nis meen say-luh swee-yuh, nay itch sylf-a hlood
imb dricht-say-luh; unk dricht-en skop
sith at-som-nuh. Itch ay-om swift-ra thon-nuh hay,
thrag-um streng-ram hay threo-ch (like in loch)-tig-ra.
Hwee-lum itch may rest; hay shay-al rin-an forth.
Itch him in woo-ni-yuh aaa thenden itch lee-fuh;
yif wit unk ye-day-lath, may bith day-ath wit-odd.]

This edition of the riddle is taken from Mitchell and Robinson's A Guide to Old English (Sixth Edition)