Thursday, 31 August 2017

Speak like a Saxon: Are you my friend?

We're a nation of many peoples, right? Welcome, Romans! Angles! Welcome, Saxons! Welcome Danes and Norwegians (we'll forgive you for stealing our stuff, vikings) and French, Spanish, Polish, Moroccans, Algerians and all the rest. Let's all be nice to each other.

Bist þu min freond?

Are you my friend?

[Bist thoo min fray-ond?]

Ic eom þin freond

I am your friend

[Itch ay-om thin fray-ond]

Now, there are some more poetic words for 'friend'. You could replace freond with:

eaxlgestealla - shoulder-companion

fréawine - lord and friend

géowine - friend of old

sundorwine - bosom buddy

Friday, 25 August 2017

Bug hunting

A small person I know likes to go hunting for bugs in the garden. How would she fare back in Anglo-Saxon times?

Here's a short Old English bug list. I've given the definite articles so you can point at things and say "the bee!" or "the earthworm"

se bitela - the beetle [say bee-tell-a]

seo beo - the bee [say-oh bay-oh]

se eorðmata  - the earthworm [say ey-orth-mat-a]

se fléa - the flea [say flay-a]

seo nihtbuttorfléoge - probably a moth; literally a 'night butterfly' [say-oh niXt-butt-or-flay-oh-guh]

se tordwifel - the dung beetle [say tord-wiff-ul]

se wibba - the beetle or crawling thing [say wibb-uh]

se wyrm  - Dragon!!! Panic!!! Flee!!! Hide! [say weerm]

I omitted some of the more gruesome ones like 'tooth-worm' and 'intestinal worm'. You might find those on an Anglo-Saxon bug hunt, but they were too manky for a bit of lunchtime fun.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Farms (or not, as the case turns out to be)

First up - the barley yard...

seo berewic...

[say-oh bear-uh-witch]

I was going to write something interesting about farms and barley and all the rest, until I discovered this.

No way.

Thank you, Google.

Some genius has written an Old English Wikipedia.

My creative brain is now completely ruined, but, on the other hand: 

Seo Freo Wisdomboc!

The free wisdom book

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Speak like an Anglo-Saxon: Bees!

This is mostly thanks to wikipedia....

I know it's completely the wrong time of year for this, but as I was looking for something for World Soil Day, I came across this lovely charm for bees.

Never mind planting bee-friendly flowers, pollinator strips, wildflower meadows and the like, back in Anglo-Saxon times all you need to do* is say this simple poem and the little buzzers will swarm to you.

Sitte ge, sīgewīf,
sīgað tō eorðan,
næfre ge wilde
tō wuda fleogan,
beō ge swā gemindige,
mīnes gōdes,
swā bið manna gehwilc,
metes and ēðeles.

(translation by Greenfield, 1996)

Settle down, victory-women (i.e. bees),
never be wild and fly to the woods.
Be/bees -  as mindful of my welfare,
as is each man of border and of home.[4]

[Sit-uh yay, see-yuh-weef,
see-yath toe ay-orth-an,
nay-fre yay wild-uh
toe wood-a flay-o-gan,
bay-o yay swaa yu-min-dee-yu,
meen-us goad-es,
swaa bith man-a ye-hwiltch,
may-tes and eth-el-es]

You might as well chant "Esiotrot, esiotrot..." while you're at it...

*unverified claim alert

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

What's in the attic?

A minor disagreement over whether the thing through the hatch at the top of the stairs and under the roof was a loft or an attic got me wondering where the words came from.

Loft entered our language with the vikings. The word comes from the Old Norse Lopt (pronounce the 'p' more like an 'f'), meaning 'upper chamber, region of sky, or air', and the Old English loft means pretty much the same thing, but leaning slightly towards the 'air/sky' than the upper chamber. My archaeological knowledge of Anglo-Saxon isn't amazing, but I'm not sure how many of them had upper chambers...

The word Attic (thanks witionary), comes from practice of decorating the top of facades in the style of Attic architecture.

I'm not sure the Anglo-Saxons had a room at the top of their houses stuffed full with junk they might need one day or can't bear to part with, but if they did, it's more likely to have been a loft than an attic.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The spacefarer part 1

This is a work in progress, and a request from my Dad. As such, there will be some grammatically erroneous words, but bear with me.

Ic þe soðan spell secgan,
hu ic neorxnewange nearlæceð
Tungolfara, freondes feawlic
Middangearde feore, Morgensteorra nearwwe
Feorþeod, sidweg....
Ne faran naenes her biforan

[I will tell you a true story, 
How I came near to the plains of heaven,
A star traveller with few friends.
The earth far away, the morning star near,
A faraway country, a long road.
No-one came here before.]

All plot suggestions gladly received! Where does he go? What does he see? What does he learn along the way? And what would an Anglo-Saxon beast of battle look like in space?

I've recently found the Old English Translator and it's really useful. I'd highly recommend it as a useful tool for writing your own Anglo Saxon. 


Friday, 22 April 2016

The Old English for 'beard'

This is a really easy one:


Say it with a lilt, like you're from North of the Humber; slowly, like you're enjoying having a beard; and pensively, like your beard gives you new cognitive powers. Roll your rrs.

The Anglo-Saxons gave us a wonderful gift in this word.

Enjoy the beard.