Old English

7 Jan 2012

On Old English Translation

Submitted by Karl Hagen
About 15 years ago, when I was still in grad school, I went through a phase where I did a certain amount of translation into Old English--perhaps a masochistic exercise, but it appealed to me as a technical challenge and as a way of improving my knowledge of the language. It would also come in handy when, years later, I got a job translating stuff for the Zemeckis version of Beowulf.
15 Mar 2011


Submitted by Karl Hagen
For those interested in Old English or Anglo-Saxon culture, a fantastic resource has just been released: the Woruldhord Project. There is a lot of interesting stuff there, especially if you're teaching Old English. I found the Oxford English Faculty Exam papers particularly interesting. They illustrate the rigorous philological focus that once was the norm in the field but which now has been supplanted by other concerns.
19 Mar 2009

My Inner Geek Rejoices

Submitted by Karl Hagen

For my birthday, I received Don Ringe's From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic and I've been reading it while taking the train in to work.

I find that even though I'm not in academia any more it's refreshing to spend some time perusing hard-core historical linguistic geekery, particularly since I've never really delved into PIE with the depth that I should have. I suspect that many Anglo-Saxonists tend to skimp on their study of the linguistic pre-history of English, especially the earliest stages.

2 May 2008

Transliteration for dummies

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Note to the College Board: the correct transliteration for 'þ' is 'th', not 'p'. I've finally started to go back to analyzing the SAT writing material to infer the College Board's views on grammar, and while flipping through the January 2008 SAT, my eye came upon this bit from a passage in a reading section about Ezra Pound's translation of the Old English poem "The Seafarer":
Moreover, there are unfortunately some mistakes, as when Pound misreads purh ("through") as pruh ("coffin").
11 Dec 2007

Prose translation is for sciolists

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I was contemplating a post about Old English metrical forms to mirror the last one on word order, but I'm leaving for England and Ireland at the end of the week and don't have time to come up with anything elaborate. So instead, I present for your philological amusement my translation of one of Aldhelm's Enigmata into Old English verse.

Ic eom huses weard,    holdscipes genoh,
bold wæccende,    bryce geardstapa.
On þearle niht    ic þeostre oferfare,
ne anforlæte    þæt eagena leoht,

4 Dec 2007
A few days ago, a Language Log post mentioned an old Onion article about reverting the grammatical rules of English to something roughly equivalent to Late Old English. It's satire of course (something that seems to have gone over some people's heads), and the article doesn't actually follow a consistent practice.
4 Dec 2007
The notion that Beowulf's nudity in the movie can be justified by the original poem seems to be floating around out there on the web. I seem to recall Neil Gaiman himself making that claim in an LA Times interview several months before the movie opened, so perhaps that's the origin of the idea. (I can't find a link for this article, though.)

I'm afraid, though, that that's a misreading (or at least reinvention). The relevant passage starts at line 661.

Ða he him of dyde, isern-byrnan,

18 Nov 2007

The Scop's Oration

Submitted by Karl Hagen
In the movie Beowulf, The scop's oration during the "Beowulf Day" celebration is a bastardized version of Beowulf's fight with Grendel from the poem. It's a snippet of what we originally recorded, which managed to tell the whole fight, from Grendel coming off the moor to Beowulf raising Grendel's arm in victory in about 90 seconds.


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