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Discussing: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Tolkien used OE sparingly to stand in for Rohirric. Those wishing to add a little flavor to their tales of Rohan (or the Mark) can do so by checking the URL library. I've listed a glossary (alphabetical by modern words), a grammar site (basic stuff), and two lists of names (male and female).

I am more than willing to try to help out when it comes to translation, although you should be aware that I don't study OE for more than my own translation needs. I am not an expert and have never taken a course on OE. I do understand enough about grammar to be able to piece things together, and to know when I don't have enough information to make a grammatically correct sentence.

Basics of AS/OE grammar:

1) There are three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter, just as in modern German. Each gender has different declensions in nouns, and all adjectives agree in number, gender, and case. The "Old English Made Easy" site listed in the URL library is very comprehensive, and does list gender for nouns.

2) There are two types of verbs: strong and weak. Strong verbs form past tenses by changing an internal vowel; weak ones add an ending. The "Old English Made Easy" site does note strong and weak verbs.

3) There are two adjective declensions: strong and weak. As far as I can tell, it is something like German again: after a demonstrative pronoun (the, these) or a possessive (my, your), the adjective is declined weakly (because the pronouns tell you the gender and case of the noun). If the adjectives stand alone ('Strong adjectives' or 'The adjective is strong') then they are declined strongly (because gender and case now ride on the adjective... roughly).

4) There are five case tenses, plus the subjunctive. My advice: avoid the subjunctive and the instrumental. Form simple sentences as often as you can. Even fairly long exchanges can be reduced to very simple sentences, thus reducing the risk of error.

I hope that this is a little bit helpful for some.

Wes hal!

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

I am delighted to find that my post to the HA list has sparked this helpful thread. The links are *very* helpful and much appreciated, especially the names. I'm pretty fussy about having believable names for my Rohirrim, so I think the story I am working on will go more smoothly now.

*sighs* Hate to sound like a squeeing fangirl, but I do love this site. Great fic, smart people, and helpful advice. Love it love it love it.

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

I thought I'd jump into the mix here =-D

/2) There are two types of verbs: strong and weak. Strong verbs form past tenses by changing an internal vowel; weak ones add an ending. The "Old English Made Easy" site does note strong and weak verbs./

Don't forget, though: there are seven classes of strong verbs, defined by how the vowel/s change across the four principal parts, as well as three classes of weak verbs. (Ominous music may be heard.) Weak verbs also will occasionally have vowel changes in the stem in addition to the dental suffix (technical term for the weak verb endings.)

The following are references for more advanced stuff, like translating and composing, things I would never attempt to explain here. The syntax in particular, though, I found interesting because, after finally reading LotR, it struck me that Tolkein employed a writing style heavily influenced by OE syntax, particularly for Two Towers and most of Return of the King. Anyway:

Syntax and sentence structure:

Catherine Ball's OE site on Labyrinth has several links to teaching aids for OE/AS (see the URL Library), but none of them seem to cover OE syntax. If you want to compose something in OE, a good beginning guide (meaning it's affordable, in print, and can be understood by non-linguists) is Bruce Mitchell's Guide to Old English. It's in the sixth edition and should be readily available from Amazon or wherever.

More words:

JR Clark-Hall's 'A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary' is a great portable resource, both for study and for conjuring up Rohirric-type names <:-)

If anyone's direly curious or needs further help/suggestions for reading or whatever, my door is always open. I'm in my third year of work in Old English, and it's what I want to do When I Grow Up, so I know a bit about it. And I'll talk your ear off about anything Anglo-Saxon if you give me half a chance

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

If anyone's direly curious or needs further help/suggestions for reading or whatever, my door is always open. I'm in my third year of work in Old English, and it's what I want to do When I Grow Up, so I know a bit about it.

Would you be willing to check one or two sentences that I tried to write in OE? I suspect I got them badly wrong, but it would be really interesting to know where and how I made mistakes.

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

A question:

Second person singular vs. second person plural: can you also use this in the sense of familiar and formal? Or is it strictly singular and plural?

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Would you be willing to check one or two sentences that I tried to write in OE? I suspect I got them badly wrong, but it would be really interesting to know where and how I made mistakes.

Oh, goodness, yes =)

(likes feeling useful)

Composition is always difficult... I'm not terribly good at it myself.

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Second person singular vs. second person plural: can you also use this in the sense of familiar and formal? Or is it strictly singular and plural?

I will need to find the reference for this (I know I read it somewhere), but as I recall, the use of 2nd person plural as formal address is a French literary convention that the English picked up through cultural interchange. Thus, Old English speakers would have employed þu/ge strictly on a singular, dual, or plural basis -- the personal pronoun had no social connotation.

Must find that reference (scowls)

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Intriguing. I wonder if the Germans also picked that convention up from the French, then. Thanks for the response, I'll have to go change a few exchanges because of that.

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Intriguing. I wonder if the Germans also picked that convention up from the French, then. Thanks for the response, I'll have to go change a few exchanges because of that.

For the life of me, I cannot find ANYTHING on historical grammar for German, at least not on the development of the second person pronoun. My extremely uneducated guess would be that German may also have adopted the convention as French romances started trickling over (cf. Esenbach & co.), and it never really fell by the wayside as it did in English, for whatever reason. Maybe the continued contact with French preserved such a usage (guessing randomly now) -- how it could, though, I honestly couldn't tell you.

The UCalgary online OE class does have something to say about the 2nd person number-only thing, though. I'll take that as temporary backup until I can find my real source =)

http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/engl401/lessons/beonpron.htm

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

What a helpful and interesting discussion area... wish I'd found it this morning *before* I spent more than an hour desperately trying to translate three words into Rohirric, without even the initial knowledge that Tolkien 'translated' it into OE.

Would anyone here be prepared to zap over to my story 'Missing', in the beta section, and check out the chapter 'Mother and Daughter (2)' [the latest chapter added] and see whether I got it (roughly) right?

Tavia

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Those wishing to add a little flavor to their tales of Rohan (or the Mark) can do so by checking the URL library. I've listed a glossary (alphabetical by modern words), a grammar site (basic stuff), and two lists of names (male and female).

I think you may have just helped me solve a very old puzzle, a sort of family mystery actually.
I was looking for a good name for a woman of the Rohirrim and followed your link to the names site. As I scrolled down the list I saw this entry:

Edris, Edrys - 'wealty ruler'

Why did this make my heart go just a tiny bit faster? Well you might ask. You see, I was named, in part, for my maternal grandmother, having the same middle name as she. She was given the name, so the family story goes, by her older sister, who had read it in a novel (this would have been in around 1900). The name has always been spelled 'Edrie' but no one outside of our family has ever heard of it, nor could we find it in any name books. The closest I've ever found before is 'Adria'.

Nessime

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

My sentiments exactly! Love it, love it, love it. Am now going to the links for the OE sites. HF, what an interesting field to go into! I may have to send some phrases your way as well, once I get there within my own story.

This site is so wonderful! All hail the Henneth-Annun admins!!

*bows*
-Thevina

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

HF, what an interesting field to go into! I may have to send some phrases your way as well, once I get there within my own story.

Interesting is one word for it .

Any help that I can give, I'm always happy to give to anyone looking for suggestions on Rohirric/OE stuff. Old English truly is a wonderful language to study -- while it gets short shrift for not being as polished or sophisticated as Latin (or the French that would eventually take over and transform it), it's a language full of unexpected nuance and emotion, and I'm deeply grateful to Dwim & the HASA crew for not only providing a place where interested writers/readers can learn more about it, but encouraging that learning as well.

Yes, I'm sloppy and sentimental tonight. So sue me :-D

H.F.

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Any help that I can give, I'm always happy to give to anyone looking for suggestions on Rohirric/OE stuff. Old English truly is a wonderful language to study

I'll be sending some probably ghastly attempts at sentences to you shortly... I have been having the best time sprinkling in Anglo-Saxon in my ever-growing novella. I checked out A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary from Vanderbilt's library and have already renewed it once... it travels with me everywhere! The only problem is that it's all A/S to ME. So I have to hunt and peck. But I love just skimming the pages, and seeing the modern version almost bloom from the words that I'm reading... so cool.

Be in touch soon!

~Thevina

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Okay, Anglo Saxon experts. I'm trying to build a name from the following entries in Bright's OE glossary:

drÿge (drîge) adj dry
gærs n grass, blade

Assuming that similar sounds would elide, I've come up with "Drygaers" for a name that's intended to mean "dry grass". Is that anywhere close, or am I completely off-base?

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

I was just poking around some OE stuff and discovered to my astonishment that my favorite college professor is heavily involved in the online Old English community. (Professor Higley is full of surprises, even now that I've been graduated from UR for two years and haven't spoken to her...) So, some of you may be interested in looking at the home page for Englisc, an old email discussion group about Old English, and a list of Old English resources.
While some discussion is conducted in Old English, a lot of it is not; but activity on this list aims primarily to: 1) compose a message or an original text in Old English, 2) translate a modern or medieval text into Old English, 3) participate in ongoing projects devoted to the above, 4) comment on the contributions, 5) offer something new, 6) pose questions about grammar and vocabulary, 7) be tremendously entertaining while remaining relevant, or just lurk and learn.
Most useful is Instant Old English, a page full of useful phrases for addressing one another, and if you're interested in teaching yourself, there's Hwaet! Old English In Context. ( It is the premise of the present book that all words in another language ought to be learned in context, and that they can be learned in this way. ... Hwæt! (the electronic book) is designed for those who would like to learn some basic Old English without having to hold a grammar book in one hand and a dictionary in the other. It is based on the notion that at least some aspects of the language can be acquired simply by reading.) Englisc has more links: to another online course, a number of resources relating to the online Old English community, and of course, for the adventurious: Ðæt Gettysburg Gemaþel: The Gettysburg Address. (They're working on Winnie the Pooh, but copyright debates have held up publication.) I just discovered this, and I thought perhaps this was the proper place to call attention to it. Also, there's a page full of computerese terms in Old English: Circolwyrde Wordhord. Reading it makes me feel a bit like a oferleornere, though the gender on that is wrong. I doubt, however, your Rohirrim will need to refer to the eormengrundwebb even though that's where your stories are posted. ;] DL7

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Hello all! I know that some of you have done waaaaaaaay more research on Rohirric/Old English than I ever will, but I just thought I'd share something I found while wandering the net one day. At the below address, there is a downloadable English-Old English (and vice versa) dictionary. It's probably most useful if you just want to scatter single words around, as there's no help on syntax and conjugation, but it does save it on your computer, so you can work off-line and still quickly look up single words. Or, if you're like me, it allows you to waste time just looking words up for fun. EdorasLass I am having issues with inserting a hyperlink, so here's just the address. http://www.freelang.net/dictionary/old_english.html

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

At the below address, there is a downloadable English-Old English (and vice versa) dictionary. Thanks for the link! I hadn't run across this. ...Or, if you're like me, it allows you to waste time just looking words up for fun. No. That would never happen. Never. Branwyn

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

Hey guys,

For a story I'm working on it really makes sense to have Éowyn say one particularly emotional line in her birth tongue. I don't doubt she was quite fluent in Westron at least from a young age, but when we are upset our minds usually go back to the first tongue we ever spoke.

So I'd like a little translation help. The line I want to translate is: "It isn't important, only a memory...". Based on an Old English dictionary I use online,

to be (third person, present tense) = hit bith
no = na
important = (cannot find a good term)
only = ancenned
memory = gemynd

So the best translation I can work out would be:

"Na hit bith (important), ancenned ac gemynd."

Dwim, or anyone else up on OE -- any suggestions?

Thanks,
Marta

 

 

Re: Old English/Anglo-Saxon

According to the OED, 'important' is from the French or Medieval Latin and was not cited as being used in that form in English until roughly Shakespeare's day.

I found this:

importance [] of little ~ adj léohtlic light

mportant to one's estimation [] adj inméde close to one's heart

here OEME

Léohtlic is probably closest to what you need.

The site is fairly comprehensive though, so you could look up other synonyms yourself.

OE grammar is beyond me, so you are on your own there! I cannot cope with verbs of seven classes and four tenses, not to mention strong and weak, and nouns that come in masculine and feminine, and adjectives that also have to match the nouns in number, gender and case when the endings are different for two syllable adjectives than for one syllable adjectives.

I don't suppose you actually want to know that OE has TWO verbs that mean 'to be'. Because you are using 'is' and not 'was', it MAY be more accurate to use the wesan form.

wesan (to be) - has got only the Present tense forms, uses the verb béon in the Past
    Present
        Ind.      Subj.      Imp.
Sg.1 eom     -
     2 eart  }  síe, sý     wes
     3 is          -
Pl. sind       síen, sýn  2 wesaþ

béon (to be)
                      Present
        Ind.      Subj.    Imp.
Sg. 1 béo                  -
      2 bist    }béo      béo
      3 biþ                   -
Pl.   béoþ     béon    2 béoþ
                      Past
    Ind.              Subj.
Sg. 1 wæs
      2 wære    } wære
      3 wæs
Pl.   wæron     wæren
    Participle I is béonde (being).

Shrug. I dunno. I get soooo confused.

Good luck. Whatever you do, believe me, it will sound fine!

Gwynnyd

 

 

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