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Beowulf.Kenning.jpgA recording of how the Lord's Prayer probably sounded in Old English, pronounced slowly

This text of the Lord's Prayer is presented in the standardised Early West Saxon dialect.

Line Original IPA Translation
[1] The Lord's Pr

This text of the Lord's Prayer is presented in the standardised Early West Saxon dialect.

This is a proclamation from King Cnut the Great to his earl Thorkell the Tall and the English people written in AD 1020. Unlike the previous two examples, this text is prose rather than poetry. For ease of reading, the passage has been divided into sentences while the pilcrows represent the original division.

Line Original IPA Translation
[1] Fæder ūre þū þe eart on heofonum, [ˈfæ.der ˈuː.re θuː θe æɑ̯rt on ˈheo̯.vo.num] Our father, you who are in heaven,
[2] Sīe þīn nama ġehālgod. [siːy̯ θiːn ˈnɒ.mɑ jeˈhɑːɫ.ɣod] May your name be hallowed.
[3] Tōbecume þīn rīċe, [ˌtoː.beˈku.me θiːn ˈriː.t͡ʃe] May your kingdom come,
[4] Ġeweorðe þīn willa, on eorðan swā swā on heofonum. [jeˈweo̯rˠ.ðe θiːn ˈwil.lɑ on ˈeo̯rˠ.ðan swɑː swɑː on ˈheo̯.vo.num] Your will be done, on Earth as in heaven.
[5] Ūrne dæġhwamlīcan hlāf sele ūs tōdæġ, [ˈuːrˠ.ne ˈdæj.ʍɑmˌliː.kɑn hl̥ɑːf ˈse.le uːs toːˈdæj] Give us our daily bread today,
[6]
Original Translation
Cnut cyning gret his arcebiscopas and his leod-biscopas and Þurcyl eorl and ealle his eorlas and ealne his þeodscype, tƿelfhynde and tƿyhynde, gehadode and læƿede, on Englalande freondlice. ¶ Cnut, king, greets his archbishops and his lede'(people's)'-bishops and Thorkell, earl, and all his earls and all his peopleship, greater (having a 1200 shilling weregild) and lesser (200 shilling weregild), hooded(ordained to priesthood) and lewd(lay), in England friendly.
And ic cyðe eoƿ, þæt ic ƿylle beon hold hlaford and unsƿicende to godes gerihtum and to rihtre ƿoroldlage. And I kithe(make known/couth to) you, that I will be [a] hold(civilised) lord and unswiking(uncheating) to God's rights(laws) and to [the] rights(laws) worldly.
Ic nam me to gemynde þa geƿritu and þa ƿord, þe se arcebiscop Lyfing me fram þam papan brohte of Rome, þæt ic scolde æghƿær godes lof upp aræran and unriht alecgan and full frið ƿyrcean be ðære mihte, þe me god syllan ƿolde. ¶ I nam(took) me to mind the writs and the word that the Archbishop Lyfing me from the Pope brought of Rome, that I should ayewhere(everywhere) God's love(praise) uprear(promote), and unright(outlaw) lies, and full frith(peace) work(bring about) by the might that me God would(wished) [to] sell'(give).
Nu ne ƿandode ic na minum sceattum, þa hƿile þe eoƿ unfrið on handa stod: nu ic mid-godes fultume þæt totƿæmde mid-minum scattum. ¶ Now, ne went(withdrew/changed) I not my shot(financial contribution, cf. Norse cognate in scot-free) the while that you stood(endured) unfrith(turmoil) on-hand: now I, mid(with) God's support, that [unfrith] totwemed(separated/dispelled) mid(with) my shot(financial contribution).
Þa cydde man me, þæt us mara hearm to fundode, þonne us ƿel licode: and þa for ic me sylf mid-þam mannum þe me mid-foron into Denmearcon, þe eoƿ mæst hearm of com: and þæt hæbbe mid-godes fultume forene forfangen, þæt eoƿ næfre heonon forð þanon nan unfrið to ne cymð, þa hƿile þe ge me rihtlice healdað and min lif byð. Tho(then) [a] man kithed(made known/couth to) me that us more harm had found(come upon) than us well liked(equalled): and tho(then) fore(travelled) I, meself, mid(with) those men that mid(with) me fore(travelled), into

The earliest history of Old English lexicography lies in the Anglo-Saxon period itself, when English-speaking scholars created English glosses on Latin texts. At first these were often marginal or interlinear glosses, but soon came to be gathered into word-lists such as the Épinal-Erfurt, Leiden and Corpus Glossaries. Over time, these word-lists were consolidated and alphabeticised to create extensive Latin-Old English glossaries with some of the character of dictionaries, such as the Cleopatra Glossaries, the Harley Glossary and the Brussels Glossary.[51] In some cases, the material in these glossaries continued to be circulated and updated in Middle English glossaries, such as the Durham Plant-Name Glossary and the Laud Herbal Glossary.[52]

Old English lexicography was revived in the early modern period, drawing heavily on Anglo-Saxons' own glossaries. The major publication at this time was William Somner's Dictionarium Saxonico-Latino-Anglicum.[53] The next substantial Old English dictionary was Joseph Bosworth's Anglo-Saxon Dictionary of 1838.

Modern

In modern scholarship, the following dictionaries remain current:

  • Cameron, Angus, et al. (ed.) (1983-). Dictionary of Old English. Toronto: Published for the Dictionary of Old English Project, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto by the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. Initially issued on microfiche and subsequently as a CD-ROM, the dictionary is now primarily published online at https://www.doe.utoronto.ca. This generally supersedes previous dictionaries where available. As of September 2018, the dictionary covered A-I.
  • Bosworth, Joseph and T. Northcote Toller. (1898). An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. The main research dictionary for Old English, unless superseded by the Dictionary of Old English. Various digitisations are available open-access, including at http://bosworth.ff.cuni.cz/. Due to errors and omissions in the 1898 publication, this needs to be read in conjunction with:
    • T. Northcote Toller. (1921). An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: Supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    • Alistair Campbell (1972). An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: Enlarged addenda and corrigenda. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Clark Hall, J. R.. (1969). A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. 4th rev. edn by Herbet D. Meritt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Occasionally more accurate than Bosworth-Toller, and widely used as a reading dictionary. Various digitisations are available, including here.
  • Roberts, Jane and Christian Kay, with Lynne Grundy, A Thesaurus of Old English in Two Volumes, Costerus New Series, 131–32, 2nd rev. impression, 2 vols (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000), also available online. A thesaurus based on the definitions in Bosworth-Toller and the structure of Roget's Thesaurus.

Though focused on later periods, the Oxford English Dictionary, Middle English Dictionary, Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, and Historical Thesaurus of English all also include material relevant to Old English.

Revivals

Like other historical languages, Old English has been used by scholars and enthusiasts of later periods to create texts either imitating Anglo-Saxon literature or deliberately transferring it to a different cultural context. Examples include Alistair Campbell and J. R. R. Tolkien.[54] Ransom Riggs uses several Old English words, such as syndrigast (singular, peculiar), ymbryne (period, cycle), etc., dubbed as "Old Peculiar" ones.

A number of websites devoted to Modern Paganism and historical reenactment offer reference material and forums promoting the active use of Old English. There is also an Old English version of Wikipedia. However, one investigation found that many Neo-Old English texts published online bear little resemblance to the historical language and have many basic grammatical mistakes.[55]

See also

Like other historical languages, Old English has been used by scholars and enthusiasts of later periods to create texts either imitating Anglo-Saxon literature or deliberately transferring it to a different cultural context. Examples include Alistair Campbell and J. R. R. Tolkien.[54] Ransom Riggs uses several Old English words, such as syndrigast (singular, peculiar), ymbryne (period, cycle), etc., dubbed as "Old Peculiar" ones.

A number of websites devoted to Modern Paganism and historical reenactment offer reference material and forums promoting the active use of Old English. There is also

A number of websites devoted to Modern Paganism and historical reenactment offer reference material and forums promoting the active use of Old English. There is also an Old English version of Wikipedia. However, one investigation found that many Neo-Old English texts published online bear little resemblance to the historical language and have many basic grammatical mistakes.[55]