Sunday, 7 June 2009

Old English

This is fascinating, so many words haven't changed a bit. The translation I have runs alongside the original, practically line for line. Seamus Heaney uses simple English words to emphasise the similarity I think.

Sae - sea
Sande - sand/beach
Worde - words/speech
Aesc - ash (sc is pronounced sh)
We - we
Under - under
Thaes - this

There is a great online OE dictionary. I have found myself simply reading down the lists of words and meanings. I wonder when all the ge- verbs disappeared.

I keep on bounding up to my sons and telling them that head, nose, hand, foot, tooth etc must be Old English, because they are short words and are for the essentials. I have pointed out the -ing ending which we use to create verbs from new words, making them our own.

I have a sort of giddiness when I think of words like hall, work, gear, shield, spear, anchor, sun and winter. It is all so ancient. Rather like when I see the ridges of the old farming strips lit up by the evening sun.

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