I’m off into Teach Yourself Old English, skimming briskly through the first few units to get my eye in before trying to do anything serious with the Exercises. The language has a teasing half-familiarity on the page, which emerges sometimes into comprehension when I hear it read aloud.
How, for example, would one guess that gehalgod means ‘blessed’ until you realise that the ‘g’ gives an unstressed ‘yuh’ sound, and remember our word ‘hallowed’? Equally, flod-græg suddenly becomes ‘flood-grey’ without any problem, and once you’ve identified the thorn, on þissum geare is quite plainly ‘in this year’. (Small cheer for WordPress putting the thorn and eth in among their other special characters – how convenient.)
But snoter and smerciende, however delightful as words, are perfectly impenetrable, leaving me tantalised in anticipation of their meaning.