Sunday, 2 December 2012

Speak like a Saxon: Advent Sunday 1 and a gender inclusive translation

It's just twenty-three days until Christmas day. Time's ticking. Day by day we're all preparing, in our own ways for Christmas. Admittedly they had less tinsel and fewer baubles, but the Anglo-Saxons marked Christmas too. If you get lost in all the razzle and dazzle of the next few weeks of mad shopping, parties and Slade, then here are a few phrases to remind you what Christmas is all about (and yes, the first one is a bit of a mouthful but it's worth it):


ælmihtig Dryhten sylfa þas world gesohte and þurh unwemme fæmnan on þas world acenned wæs 

(Almighty God himself sought out the world and was given birth to by a virgin)

["Al-mich (like in Scottish 'loch')-tiy Dri-ch-ten Sulf-a thas world yuh-soch-tuh and thurH un-wem-muh fem-nan on thas world a-ken-ned wass"]


If someone asks you why, the response the Anglo-Saxons gave looked like this:

to þan þæt he eall mann cyn fram hellwara wite alysde 

(So that he might free all humankind** from the punishments of hell)

["Toe than that hay ay-all man kun fram hell-waar-a weet-uh a-loos-duh"]

We've got the wonderful tenth-century Vercelli Homilies to thank for today's selection. One day I'll translate all of them. If you're a publisher and you'd like to pay me to do that, let me know!!

**I hope you appreciate the gender inclusive translation here...


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