Saturday, 27 October 2012

Speak like a saxon: Good night (and words beginning with N)

As I procrastinate before bedtime, I thought finding out how to say 'Good Night' in Old English might be quite useful. But then I found some other words beginning with N, so the phrase will have to wait.

Quoting from J.R. Clark Hall's wonderful Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, here they are:

neodspearuwa  - (?restless) sparrow ["nay-odd-spay-are-oo-wa"]
neorxnawang - Paradise ["nay-orks-na-wang"]
nestpohha - wallet ["nest-poch(like in Scottish 'loch')-ah"]
nihtglom - gloom of night ["nicht -glom"]
nicorhus - sea monster's dwelling ["nick-or-hoos"]

The editors of the dictionary explain in the previous entry that the nicor, could be a sea-monster, a water sprite, a hippo or a walrus. Take your pick.

And one final one:

nigontynlic - containing the number nineteen ["ni-yon-toon-litch"]

This just goes to show that our modern vocabulary is pitifully diminished. Why haven't we got a word for 'containing the number nineteen'?


God þe sie milde oð þone fyrst þe morgen come

God be merciful to you until the time when morning comes (I made this one up - apologies to purists out there)

["God they see-uh mild-uh oth tho-nuh furst they mor-gen com-uh"]

Monday, 8 October 2012

Speak like a saxon: Monday mornings

Now, I don't know how much you like or dislike Monday mornings. If you think the whole world languishes in misery over the loss the the weekend; if they reduce you to groaning and moaning then you might find this phrase from the poem Andreas (l. 1554) useful:

þær was wop wera    wide gehyred
(weeping of men was heard far and wide)

["there was wop where-a weed-uh ye-hoor-ed"]

That's it for today.