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Mara del Carmen Guarddon Anelo

Profesora Titular de Filologa


Universidad Nacional de Educacin a Distancia

Diachrony and Typology


of the English Language
through the Texts

Reservados todos los derechos.


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Mara del Carmen Guarddon Anelo


Ediciones Acadmicas, S.A.
Bascuuelos, 13-P. 28021 Madrid
ISBN: 978-84-0000000-00-0
Depsito legal: M-00000-2011
Impreso por: Campillo Nevado, S.A.
Antonio Gonzlez Porras, 35-37
28019 MADRID
Impreso en Espaa / Printed in Spain

Contents
The Author ......................................................................................... 15
Introduction and Objetives ....................................................... 17
Contextualization and justification of the contents ......................................
Contents, design and organization of this book ..........................................
Students background knowledge ...............................................................
Study guidelines .........................................................................................
Learning results . ........................................................................................
Course schedule ........................................................................................
Abbreviations .............................................................................................

18
19
21
21
22
22
23

OLD ENGLISH TEXTs ................................................................. 25


TEXT 1 - Wuld and Eadwacer ................................................... 27
Historical Context . .....................................................................................
1. Verbal Morphology ..............................................................................
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . .....................................................
3. Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................
4. Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................
5. Glossed Text .......................................................................................
6. Key Translation ....................................................................................

29
31
34
40
42
47
49

TEXT 2 - The Egyptian Days ...................................................... 51


Historical Context . .....................................................................................
1. Verbal Morphology ..............................................................................
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . .....................................................
3. Adverbs and Function Words . .............................................................
4. Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................
5. Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................
6. Glossed Text .......................................................................................
7. Key Translation ....................................................................................

53
55
56
61
62
62
66
68

DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

TEXT 3 - The Whale ........................................................................ 69


Historical Context . .....................................................................................
1. Verbal Morphology ..............................................................................
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . .....................................................
3. Function Words and Adverbs . .............................................................
4. Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................
5. Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................
6. Glossed Text .......................................................................................
7. Key Translation ....................................................................................

71
73
75
79
80
83
86
89

TEXT 4 - Jesus and the Tax Gatherer


Luke 19: 1 11 West-Saxon gospels..................................... 91
Historical Context . ..................................................................................... 93
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 95
2. Morphology Nominal Group . ............................................................... 97
3. Function Words and Adverbs . ............................................................. 98
4. Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................ 99
5. Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................ 100
6. Glossed Text ....................................................................................... 103
7. Key Translation .................................................................................... 105

TEXT 5 - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle .................................. 107


Historical Context . ..................................................................................... 109
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 111
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 113
3. Function Words and Adverbs . ............................................................. 115
4. Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................ 116
5. Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................ 117
6. Glossed Text ....................................................................................... 122
7. Key Translation .................................................................................... 125

MIDDLE ENGLISH TEXTS ......................................................... 127


TEXT 1 - The Anarchy - The Peterborough chronicle.. 129
Historical Context . ..................................................................................... 131
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 133
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 139
3. Function Words and Adverbs . ............................................................. 145

CONTENTS

4.
5.
6.
7.

Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................ 148


Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................ 150
Glossed Text ....................................................................................... 156
Key Translation .................................................................................... 159

TEXT 2 - The Temptation of Eve - Ancrene Wisse........... 161


Historical Context . ..................................................................................... 163
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 165
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 167
3. Adverbs and Function Words . ............................................................. 170
4. Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................ 171
5. Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................ 172
6. Glossed Text ....................................................................................... 175
7. Key Translation .................................................................................... 178

TEXT 3 - The Magnificence of Arthurs Court ................. 179


Historical Context . ..................................................................................... 181
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 183
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 184
3. Adverbs and Function Words . ............................................................. 188
4. Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................ 189
5. Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................ 190
6. Glossed Text ....................................................................................... 196
7. Key Translation .................................................................................... 198

TEXT 4 - The Owl and the Nightingale ................................ 199


Historical Context . ..................................................................................... 201
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 203
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 204
3. Function Words and Adverbs ............................................................... 208
4. Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................ 210
5. Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................ 211
6. Glossed Text ....................................................................................... 213
7. Key Translation .................................................................................... 216

TEXT 5 - Jesus Calms the Storm . .......................................... 217


Historical Context . ..................................................................................... 219
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 222
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 224

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Adverbs and Function Words . ............................................................. 227


Syntax at Phrase Level ........................................................................ 228
Syntax at Clause Level ........................................................................ 228
Glossed Text ....................................................................................... 231
Key Translation .................................................................................... 236

SELF-EVALUATION ...................................................................... 239


Guide to the use of the Self-evaluation Section ............ 241
Old English Texts . ................................................................. 243
Text 1 - Wulf and Eadwacer ............................................................... 244
Translate .................................................................................................... 245
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 246
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 247
Key answers .............................................................................................. 248
About the text ............................................................................................ 249
About the questions ................................................................................... 249

Text 2 - The Egyptian Days ................................................................ 250


Translate .................................................................................................... 251
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 252
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 253
Key answers .............................................................................................. 254
About the text ............................................................................................ 255
About the questions ................................................................................... 255

Text 3 - The Whale .............................................................................. 256


Translate .................................................................................................... 257
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 258
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 259
Key answers .............................................................................................. 260
About the text ............................................................................................ 261
About the questions ................................................................................... 261

Text 4 - Jesus and the Tax Gatherer-Luke 19: 1 11 .................. 262


Translate .................................................................................................... 263
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 264

CONTENTS

Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 265


Key answers .............................................................................................. 266
About the text ............................................................................................ 267
About the questions ................................................................................... 267

Text 5 - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ................................................ 268


Translate .................................................................................................... 269
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 270
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 271
Key answers .............................................................................................. 272
About the text ............................................................................................ 273
About the questions ................................................................................... 273

MIDDLE English Texts .......................................................... 275


Text 1 - The Anarchy ........................................................................... 276
Translate .................................................................................................... 277
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 278
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 279
Key answers .............................................................................................. 280
About the text ............................................................................................ 281
About the questions ................................................................................... 281

Text 2 - The Temptation of Eve ......................................................... 282


Translate .................................................................................................... 283
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 284
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 285
Key answers .............................................................................................. 286
About the text ............................................................................................ 287
About the questions ................................................................................... 287

Text 3 - The Magnificence of Arthurs Court .................................. 288


Translate .................................................................................................... 289
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 290
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 291
Key answers .............................................................................................. 292
About the text ............................................................................................ 293
About the questions ................................................................................... 293

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

Text 4 - The Owl and the Nightingale . ............................................. 294


Translate .................................................................................................... 295
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 296
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 297
Key answers .............................................................................................. 298
About the text ............................................................................................ 299
About the questions ................................................................................... 299

Text 5 - Jesus Calms the Storm . ..................................................... 300


Translate .................................................................................................... 301
Answer . ..................................................................................................... 303
Suggested Translation ................................................................................ 304
Key answers .............................................................................................. 306
About the text ............................................................................................ 307
About the questions ................................................................................... 307

Supplementary activities
Old English........................................................................................ 309

Text 1 - The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan ............................ 311


EXERCISES . .............................................................................................. 311
1. Translate .............................................................................................. 311
GLOSSARY ............................................................................................... 311
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 311
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 312
3. Adverbs and Function Words ............................................................... 313
Question ............................................................................................. 313

Text 2 - Beowulf ................................................................................... 315


EXERCISES . .............................................................................................. 315
1. Translate .............................................................................................. 315
GLOSSARY ............................................................................................... 315
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 315
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 315
3. Adverbs and Function Words . ............................................................. 316
Question ............................................................................................. 316

CONTENTS

Text 3 - The Killing of Holofernes by Judith .................................... 317


EXERCISES . .............................................................................................. 317
GLOSSARY ............................................................................................... 317
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 317
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 318
3. Adverbs and Function Words . ............................................................. 318
Question ............................................................................................. 319
Middle English................................................................................. 321

Text 1 - When e Nyhtegale Singes ................................................ 323


EXERCISES . .............................................................................................. 323
1.Translate .............................................................................................. 323
GLOSSARY ............................................................................................... 323
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 323
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 324
3. Adverbs and Function Words . ............................................................. 325
Question ............................................................................................. 325

Text 2 - De Clerico et Puella ............................................................. 327


EXERCISES . .............................................................................................. 327
1.Translate the following text with the help of the glossary provided ....... 327
GLOSSARY ............................................................................................... 327
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 327
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 328
3. Adverbs and Function Words . ............................................................. 328
Question ............................................................................................. 328

Text 3 - Sir Orfeo ................................................................................. 329


EXERCISES . .............................................................................................. 329
1.Translate the following text with the help of the glossary provided ....... 329
GLOSSARY ............................................................................................... 329
1. Verbal Morphology .............................................................................. 329
2. Morphology of the Nominal Group . ..................................................... 330
3. Adverbs and Function Words . ............................................................. 330
Question ............................................................................................. 331

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

KEY ANSWERS Old English....................................................... 333

Text 1 - The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan ............................ 335


Suggested translation ................................................................................ 335
Key to the question .................................................................................... 335

Text 2 - Beowulf ................................................................................... 336


Suggested translation ................................................................................ 336
Key to the question .................................................................................... 336

Text 3 - The Killing of Holofernes by Judith .................................... 337


Suggested translation ................................................................................ 337
Key to the question .................................................................................... 337
KEY ANSWERS Middle English................................................ 339

Text 1 - When e Nyhtegale Singes ................................................ 341


Suggested translation ................................................................................ 341
Key to the question .................................................................................... 341

Text 2 - De Clerico et Puella ............................................................. 342


Suggested translation ................................................................................ 342
Key to the question .................................................................................... 342

Text 3 - Sir Orfeo ................................................................................. 343


Suggested translation ................................................................................ 343
Key to the question .................................................................................... 343

recommended readings . ................................................ 345


Supplementary biblioGRAPHY
Old English ....................................................................................... 351
Middle English ................................................................................ 361

selected urls ............................................................................ 371


GLOSSARY ....................................................................................... 375
Anexo I ................................................................................................. 383
Anexo II . .............................................................................................. 393

The Author

Mara del Carmen Guarddon Anelo has a doctorate in Historical Linguistics. She
worked in the Institut fr Anglistik II at the Rheinisch-Westfalische Technische Hochschule
in Aachen (Germany) where she profited from the advice of Professor Lilo Moessner
in the elaboration of this book. Dr. Guarddon has published other books aimed at the
understanding of the morphosyntactic structures and the organization of the lexical stock
of Old and Middle English. She is the author of a considerable number of papers and
chapters of books on the typology of Old English.
Mara del Carmen Guarddon Anelo has done research work in the field of Cognitive
Linguistics in the Universities of California at Berkeley, University of London (UK)
and University of Texas at Austin. This solid background permits her to approach the
teaching of the complex structures of Old and Middle English using didactic strategies that
guarantee the students assimilation of the characteristics of the language.
Finally, this book is also the result of Guarddon Anelos experience in the teaching of the
History of the English Language in a distant university such as the UNED, where she has
been coordinator of the course Historia de la Lengua Inglesa (5th year of the Licenciatura
Filologa Inglesa) for 10 years.

Introduction
and Objetives
The objective of this book is to be a guide in the acquisition of strategies for
understanding texts in Old and Middle English. Therefore, it provides a general and global
view of grammar in the two linguistic stages, especially as related to morphology and
syntax. In this manner, it shows the changes that have been generated in relation to the most
relevant constructions between these periods of the English language. It has been designed
for those beginning to study Diachrony and Typology of the English Language (Grado en
Estudios Ingleses, UNED). On that basis, the contents have been organized in such a way
that the book can be used by readers working with a professor as well as those working on
their own.
This book is by no means a substitute for a manual of Old or Middle English. It really
intends to add a practical dimension to the theoretical knowledge gained from such
manuals or courses. There exists a solid tradition of teaching dead languages through
translation, a representative case being Latin. The finding of recurring syntactic and
morphologic characteristics in the translation process leads to progressive assimilation,
particularly because these structures are not directly presented to the reader, as is the case
when learning theory. Instead, it is the readers job to try to identify them, which makes it
necessary to review previously acquired knowledge, and to compare it with the linguistic
evidence to obtain a reasonable version of the text contents. This allows for theory
assimilation while minimizing the need for memorization. On the other hand, it constitutes
a type of learning we call active, because it encourages the reader to create his own strategies.
Further motivation comes from the activity itself as the texts are understandable without
having to refer to other translations.
Thus, the objective of the translation is not aesthetic; rather it helps in the process of
understanding the linguistic structures of the text. The reader should keep in mind that
her principal goal is not to do a literary translation, but just to understand the content
of the text. I also recommend that the translations provided be read after the texts have
been worked with to avoid the reader developing any prejudices while studying the texts.

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There are excellent literary translations of the passages included in this volume. They can
be found in the Supplementary Bibliography so that any interested reader can have the
opportunity to compare how the texts are translated in a different linguistic time period
with an aesthetic intention.

CONTEXTUALIZATION AND
JUSTIFICATION OF THE CONTENTS
The reason I think that translation is a basic exercise toward understanding these
languages is because it constitutes a necessary step between theory acquisition and reading
the texts. In the majority of cases this step is the only objective of those starting in this
discipline. Many of the readers of this book are students of English Studies or Linguistics
who are simply interested in being able to understand a text with the help of a glossary and
have no intention of reaching a level which would allow them to read the texts directly, a
competency that would require serious dedication. Nevertheless, most manuals include
a reader after covering all the details of the given linguistic stage. The texts comprising
these readers include annotation and give historical context on the text in question, or add
to information about the plot or characters that appear in the passage. Also, on occasion,
the notes give information on especially difficult grammatical patterns. The texts are
accompanied by a corresponding glossary.
In any case, I think the step from studying the characteristics of the language to the
reading of the texts with the help of a glossary constitutes a practically impossible jump for
the reader. This is where this book comes in to help. I think that the study of the language
helps the reader to distinguish its characteristics, but reading texts requires the development
of a specific ability. Previous knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. With this in mind,
this book stresses the steps which will help the reader in the process of understanding a
text in Old or Middle English. This understanding process goes through text translation.
This type of translation is extracting meaning. The readers knowledge of this material is
normally not broad enough to understand through simply reading. Therefore I have tried to
establish a systematic method which leads to the understanding of texts in Old and Middle
English. This method is based on the correct interpretation of the linguistic structures
composing the texts.
I am deeply indebted to the scholarly editions used in this volume. They provide
punctuation and capitalization which prove to be very helpful for the modern reader
working with the texts. I think it is necessary to point out that I have standardized just
one feature of the orthographic conventions from the editions I have worked with. In

INTRODUCTION AND OBJETIVES

the texts, when I found <u> where in present-day English we would expect <v> or
<w>, I have followed modern orthography. These graphic modernizations were made
to make the identification of certain terms easier. I have also chosen to make this change
because this convention has been used in several Middle English dictionaries. The scope
of this book is the understanding of Old and Middle English texts by having a clearer
perspective of the morphological and syntactic patterns of the language. I provide each
passage as it was originally printed. I do not include further information about other
manuscripts where the passage may have appeared. However, the reader who wants to
pursue matters further can consult the Supplementary Bibliography at the end of this
book. This section is organized into subsections corresponding to the works from which
the passages selected for this volume have been extracted. Understanding this, I would
like to make a general acknowledgement to all the editions from which I have extracted
the texts included in this book.1

CONTENTS, DESIGN AND


ORGANIZATION OF THIS BOOK
The first section of this book is divided in two parts. The first is dedicated to Old
English and the second to the period known as Middle English. Both parts can work
independently. In the second part, there are repeated references to the part dedicated to Old
English given that I want the reader to have a diachronic perspective of the constructions.
In any case, since exact references are used to indicate where a given phenomenon appears in
the first part, the reader interested in such information can find it without having to study
the complete text. This allows independent usage of both parts.
Each part consists of five texts. The first text in each section is organized differently
from the other four. As an introduction for the reader they offer greater support and
information, considering characteristics of the text and relating them to the general
properties of the language for the corresponding time period, always supposing that the
student has previous basic knowledge of Old and Middle English. All the texts have seven
sections: 1) Verbal Morphology, 2) Morphology of the Nominal Group, 3) Adverbs
and Function Words, 4) Syntax at Phrase Level, 5) Syntax at Clause Level, 6) Glossed
Text and 7) Key Translation. The sections Verbal Morphology and Morphology of the
Nominal Group in the texts that begin each of the sections are in the text format while
those following are in the glossary format. The format of the entries is not uniform. At
1
Should any copyright holder want to discuss any matter with us, the publishers would be glad to make whatever
suitable arrangement.

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

times one needs only basic information, however, when a term requires deeper explanation,
this is added when considered necessary, while advancing through the texts, forms with
which the reader should already be familiar are not included. For example, in relation
to texts corresponding to late Middle English, certain vocabulary elements that have
the same form and meaning as Modern English are not explained. The emphasis of the
book is on morphologic and syntactic questions that I consider to be fundamental to the
understanding of a written text. References to phonologic aspects are only made when
necessary to understand a morphologic phenomenon or when it aids in the identification of
a certain vocabulary element. Regarding the Middle English texts, I only make reference to
dialectical matters when required to understand the text, for example, to explain a syntactic
peculiarity that the reader may find in future texts.
I include boxes called Useful Tips, with comments especially relevant to working with the
texts. These tips include commentary that could be about procedure, concrete grammatical
characteristics of Old or Middle English, or grammar in general. Obviously, the explanation
of basic grammar is beyond the objectives of this book, but sometimes the lack of knowledge
of such basics is an obstacle that can make understanding the texts very difficult. For that
reason I make a small clarification when considered necessary. Useful Tips are more common
in the first texts. It is not recommended that readers skip over the tips unless they have a solid
background in the language. Each of the texts is preceded by a brief introduction to the work
explaining a bit of its theme and historical context. This information is brief and aims to
provide some background for the reader in order not to confront the text cold, it offers some
ideas that provide context to the reader. If a reader desires more information about a particular
text, bibliographic information can be found in the references.
The second part is devoted to the students Self-Evaluation of their learning. This
section includes the same texts without the explanations present in the former section,
and which should have been assimilated by the student. The texts are accompanied by
exercises aimed at checking whether the students have reached full understanding of
the morpho-syntactic structures and the semantic content of the texts. This section
also includes answers and feedback that encourages further learning through reflective
dialogue and corrective advice.
The third part is Supplementary Activities. This section offers additional activities,
the purpose of which is to consolidate the students learning results. They present the same
structure as the Self-Evaluation section because this organization prioritizes improvement
in the comprehension of the typological features of the linguistic periods of English studied.
Finally, the book includes a wide range of subsections aimed at facilitating the students
learning process: Recommended Readings, Supplementary Bibliography, Selected
URLS, and a Glossary of Linguistic Terms.

INTRODUCTION AND OBJETIVES

STUDENTS BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE


All the materials for the course are written in English. The exams will be in English
and the student will provide answers to the questions in English. Therefore, I presume the
student that takes this course is proficient in the language.
Concerning technical knowledge, I assume the student be familiar with the tools of
linguistic study used in phonetics, semantics and grammar, since at this stage of the degree
the student has already taken courses in these fields. The command of these notions is of
pivotal importance for an adequate understanding of the contents of this course. Without
such knowledge, the course materials would have to be much longer and more repetitive,
thus students are strongly encouraged to review these concepts if they think it necessary.

STUDY GUIDELINES
It is recommended to the reader that the first texts of each section be dealt with in the
order they appear. This does not mean that there is insufficient emphasis on matters that
appear to be dealt with previously. In fact, quite the opposite, I have persisted with plenty
of aspects that assist in the identification of structures in each text, without having to refer
to previous texts. In any case, the explanation of similar structures and their identification
in different contexts will contribute to an assimilation of the structures of each time period.
The texts are as much prose as poetry. If it is true that understanding poetry presents
more difficulty, it also trains the reader to work with the texts more effectively, having to
confront more varied and complex patterns. Since the objective of this book is to make
the reader able to understand texts from the epoch, eliminating poetry texts would not
have been realistic. To make things easier in this sense, the necessary explanations are
given when a certain phenomenon is more common in poetry texts and vice versa. In the
section dedicated to Middle English, as is logical with material of this nature, the texts are
in chronological order. The texts have been chosen for the appearance of morphologic and
syntactic characteristics which define the different epochs. Some structures seemed relevant
to me by being particularly common to the epoch, others by being particularly complex. I
have also tried to have the texts reflect the continuity of these structures when this helps the
reader to understand them better. In other words, linguistic interest took precedence over
literary interest when making our selections. In any case, this has not prevented us from
including beautiful texts like the poem Wulf and Eadwacer.
It is recommended that once the reader has finished the guided translation of the
texts, he tries to translate each of them again, only looking up the meaning of words in the

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

brief glossaries at the beginning of each text. Each of the texts is accompanied by a literal
translation that the reader can use to compare with her own. The translations provided do
not have any literary intention, they adhere closely to the structure and content of the texts
because I believe this is the most useful option for the purposes of this book.

LEARNING RESULTS
The student should be able to identify linguistic features in texts such as word order,
presence of subordinate structures, case homogenisation, etc. The student should also
make sense of short, not very complex texts with the help of a dictionary or a glossary. It is
desirable that the student be capable of identifying the content in connection with a specific
literary work or historic event.

COURSE SCHEDULE
The virtual course will include a full course schedule, taking into consideration the
calendar of the year in course.

INTRODUCTION AND OBJETIVES

ABBREVIATIONS
acc.

accusative

adj.

adjective

adv.

adverb; adverbial

dat.

dative

fem.

feminine

gen.

genitive

indic.

indicative

inf.

infinitive

inst.

instrumental

masc.

masculine

NP

noun phrase

neut.

neuter

nom.

nominative

Od

direct object

OF

old French

ON

old Norse

PP

prepositional phrase

pret.

preterit

VP

verb phrase

subj.

subjunctive

23

Old English
Texts

Text 1

Wuld and
Eadwacer

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

Historical Context
At only 19 lines, Wulf and Eadwacer is a short poem, part of the
Exeter Book. Despite its length, it is one of the most difficult Old
English poems to translate correctly. It has been deduced that the
speaker is female and thus this work has been classified as a womans
song, a monologue of a woman lamenting being apart from her lover
Wulf, possibly by the doings of the husband, Eadwacer. More generically
this poem can be classified as an elegy. It should be noted that the term
elegy, in Old English poetry, is used to refer to the poems that lament
the loss of loved ones, belongings, or glory. Originally, this poem was
thought to be the first in a series of riddles included in The Exeter
Book. But as Lehnert explains: Since Henry Bradleys interpretation
(Academy XXXIII, p. 197f., 1888) the elegy is regarded either as a lyric
fragment of a longer poem, probably the Wolfdietrich B story, known in
Middle High German literature [] or a dramatic lyrical monologue
complete in itself (1960: 24).1 As with most Old English poems, Wulf
and Eadwacer cannot be dated with certainty. It is generally accepted
that the works from The Exeter Book were written between the eighth
and the eleventh centuries, most likely in the Midlands or the North of
England. This poem can be used as a window to the ancient Germanic
world, the recurrent themes connected with their poetry are heroic
behaviour, warriors, murder and disgrace (s beaducfa bgum the bold
warrior line 11). The images in the poem show a hostile environment
and unpleasant weather, reflecting the emotional state of the woman
(onne hit ws rni weder ond i reotugu st then it was rainy weather
and I sat sad line 10). Because of the early composition of this poem,
its lexis is entirely Germanic. Finally, we would like to emphasise that
this text is generally regarded as the most touching and emotive of
Anglo Saxon poetry.

Lehnert, Martin. 1960. Poetry and Prose of the Anglo-Saxons. Halle: Niemeyer Verlag.

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

Wulf and Eadwacer


1

Leodum is minum swyle him mon lc gife

willa hy hine aecgan, gif he on reat cyme

3 Ungelic is s
4

Wulf is on iege ic on oerre

fst is t eglond, fenne beiworpen.

Sindon wlreowe weras r on ige

willa hy hine aecgan gif he on reat cyme

8 Ungelc is us
9

Wulfes ic mines widlastum wenum dogode

10

onne hit ws renig weder ond ic reotugu st

11

onne mec se beaducafa bogum bilede,

12

ws me wyn to on ws me hwre eac la

13

wulf, min wulf wena me ine

14

seoce gedydon ine seldcymas

15

murnende md nales meteliste

16

Gehyrest u, Eadwacer? Uncerne earmne hwelp

17

bire wulf to wuda.

18

t mon eae toslite tte nfre gesomnad ws

19 uncer giedd geador

W. S. Mackie. The Exeter Book. Part II: Poems IX-XXXII. 1934. London: EETS. p. 86

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

1 Verbal Morphology
In Old-English a clause with no subject may indicate that the clause contains a weather
verb or an impersonal verb. This phenomenon is called as expletive pro-drop in the
theoretical literature and relies on a rich verb inflexional system. This differentiates Old
English from present-day English. Despite certain syncretism, Old English verbs give
us more clues about the subject. Thus, in order to profit from these clues it is necessary
to be able to identify what the verbal inflexion has to tell us about person and number.
Furthermore, Old English verbal inflexion also indicates tense and mood.
Presented below is a line-by-line explanation of the linguistic structure of the poem
to make the translation of the text easier and facilitate the recognition of the elements
analysed. The relevant elements are shown in bold letters:
FIRST LINE: Lodum is mnum swyle him mon lc gife,
This verse includes an example of pro-drop as explained above. We can easily identify the
third singular person of the verb Bon to be, is, which is identical to the present-day form,
but there is no neighbouring nominative form to function as its subject. In a second verb,
gife we find that the consonants in the verb stem indicate correspondence to the verb giefan
to give. This is an example of an irregular verb in present-day English leading to a strong
verb in Old English. Strong verbs show a change of vowel in the stressed syllable. This is
known as gradation or ablaut which includes seven classes of strong verbs in Old English. The
differences in the vowels determine the class that a certain verb belongs to.
Gife presents a dichotomy; the present subjunctive singular forms are the same as 1st
singular present indicative. The immediate syntactic context does not include a first person
pronoun (i), thus we should reject the present indicative option. In the same verse we find
two potential nominatives (mon someone and lc gift), hence we should consider gife
3rd singular present subjunctive.
SECOND LINE: willa hy hine aecgn, gif h on reat cyme.
The second line is more simple. The ending of willa to wish shows present indicative
plural: -a. This is consistent with the presence of a 3rd plural personal pronoun hy they,
which contributes to disambiguate this verbal form. The ending of aecgn to capture shows
that this is the infinitive that willa requires. It should be recognised that in Old English
willan is still a lexical verb and not an auxiliary. Finally, the ending of cyme clearly indicates
that this form corresponds to the 3rd singular present indicative of the verb cuman to come.
There are many different positions that a verb can occupy in a clause. In section 5, we
will focus on sentence word-order.

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

THIRD LINE: Ungeli is s.


The third line presents the 3rd singular present indicative of Bon, is.
FOURTH AND FIFTH LINES: Wulf is on ege, i on erre./ Fst is t glond,

fenne beiworpen.
The examples of the verb Bon to be in these verses are connected with a locative
expression (on e on an island) and with a property respectively (Fst fast). These
are typical structures for linking verbs. The ending of beiworpen placed, stuck signals
that this form is a past participle. This verbal form can play an adjectival function, which
seems to be the case here. Thus, fenne beiworpen placed in the fens can be analysed as an
appositive structure qualifying glond island. This type of construction is to be expected,
particularly in poetry for aesthetic and descriptive purposes.
SIXTH LINE: Sindon wlrowe weras r on e;
As you know, Bon to be has forms with different stems. Although a dictionary or
glossary will help you to identify Sindon as present indicative plural, you should be able
to identify this form by yourself. The absence of 1st or 2nd plural personal pronoun show
that Sindon can only be a 3rd plural form. The analysis of the noun phrase (NP) wlrowe
weras bloodthirsty men corroborates this point.
NINTH LINE: Wulfes i mnes wd-lastum wenum dogode;
You are already acquainted with the fact that the regular past forms in present-day English
are formed by the addition of -d or -ed. This is from the Old English weak verbs. The presence
of the suffix -de in a word in an Old English text may lead us to suspect that we are dealing
with a past verb form. In the preterit of weak verbs a form without inflexion for person can be
either 1st and 3rd singular preterit indicative or 1st, 2nd, and 3rd singular preterit subjunctive.
In weak verbs these forms are identical. In principle, the absence of any factors that motivate
the presence of a subjunctive form, such as a subordinating conjunction, should incline us to
consider that we are dealing with an indicative form. Thus, dogode grieved can be preterit
indicative 1st or 3rd singular. The presence of i constitutes a definite clue in this sense.
Concerning the identification of the infinitive, in English there are three classes of weak verbs.
The infinitive of dogode is dgian, a Class II weak verb, which means to suffer.
TENTH AND ELEVENTH LINES: onne hit ws rni weder ond i reotugu st,/

onne m s beaducfa bgum bilede,


These verses contain two verbal forms that can be easily recognised with our knowledge
of present-day English. Ws is clearly a 1st or 3rd singular of Bon. Hit preceding ws

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

points to the latter option. St is the past form of sittan to sit. Sittan to sit is a strong verb
that belongs to Class 5. The neighbouring personal pronoun i can function as the subject
of st.
In the eleventh line, the dental suffix -de in bilede again points to the past of a weak
verb. Specifically, the -e- identifies this form as a weak verb of Class I, bilecgan to lay. This
is one of the scarce cases where a weak verb has evolved into an irregular verb in presentday English. On this occasion, the presence of a correlation established by onne.onne
requires the presence of a principal and a subordinate clause. The presence of a subjunctive
verb form may clarify this question. Concerning the subject, we have no 1st or 2nd singular
personal pronoun. Instead, we find an article in nominative case preceding an adjective used
substantively s beaducfa the courageous (man). This NP can function as the subject of
bilede, thus this verb must be interpreted as a 3rd singular.
TWELFTH LINE: ws m wyn t on, ws m hwre ac l.
The next forms of Bon that we encounter are easily identifiable, as related to presentday English.
THIRTEENTH, FOURTEENTH AND FIFTEENTH LINES: Wulf, mn Wulf, wna

m ne/ soce edydon, ne seld-cymas, / murnende md, nles metelste.


The next verb, we will focus our attention on is edydon did. This form offers two
distinctive clues: the dental suffix is indicative of preterit; and the -on ending shows we are
dealing with a preterit indicative plural of dn to do, an anomalous verb. As we will see in
the next section, the NPs in the clause should help us identify the exact person.
In line fifteenth, there is a verbal form that at first sight may go unnoticed since it is nonfinite. We are referring to murnende grieving, the -ende inflexion is a clear marker of the
present participle (-ing form).
SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH LINES: Gehyrest , adwacer? Uncerne

armne hwelp / bire wulf t wuda.


In the next verbal form Gehyrest, the -(e)st inflexion indicates that we are dealing with a
2nd singular present indicative or a 2nd singular preterit indicative of a weak verb gehyran
hear. Considering that weak verbs present a dental suffix in their preterit forms, the only
option we are left with is a present form. The personal pronoun you leads us to the
same conclusion as -(e)st. The ending of bire carries, makes this form easily recognizable,
- corresponds to the 3rd singular present indicative.

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH LINES: t mon ae tslite tte n


fre

esomnad ws,/ uncer iedd eador.


The last finite verbal form that we will analyse in this poem is tslite separates. The
reader should also be familiar with this ending, that points to a present indicative 3rd
singular. The infinitive tsltan. The final verbal form esomnad assembled is the past
participle of samnian, thus, here it functions as an adjective.

useful Tips
The verb is the key to understanding the sentence structure and therefore, its
meaning. Two tasks are fundamental in this respect:
1. To find out the meaning of the verb. Knowing the meaning of the verb
will provide us with fundamental clues concerning its argument structure,
for instance, whether you need a direct object, indirect object, or other
complements.
2. To work out the person, number, tense and mood. This can be accomplished
by identifying inflexions, such as -(e); -(e)st or -a, which will contribute to
narrowing the scope of your search and help you identify the subject of the
clause.

2 Morphology of the Nominal Group


Old English nouns show a four-way case system with nominative, accusative, dative and
genitive. In certain parts of the adjective and pronoun declensions an instrumental case
occurs. As you already know, the fact that Old English does not have a fixed word- order (at
least not as we know it in present-day English), makes the identification of the different cases
quite necessary in order to know the function of each word in the clause. This requires us to
understand the fundamental declensions. Of particular importance is the understanding of
the main cases, such as the nominative which is associated with the syntactic subject, and the
accusative, which is most typically associated with the direct object. Although the inflexional
endings for the majority of noun classes were syncretized for the nominative and accusative, it
is possible to identify them by means of demonstrative pronouns. Demonstrative pronouns,
adjectives and nouns always agree in case, number and gender.

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

FIRST LINE: Lodum is mnum swyle him mon lc gife;


The first verse seems to show a clear agreement between two words: Lodum people
and mnum my. The -um ending points to dative case, which is consistent with the
presence of the verb giefan to give. This is a ditransitive verb and frequently occurs
with a human recipient, which is usually coded by a dative. The possessive adjectives are
declined strong. In the strong declension of adjectives, -um can be dative masculine and
neuter singular and also dative plural of the three genders. The noun modified by mnum,
Lodum can give us a clue to solve this uncertainty. Lod has two genders masculine and
feminine, this grammatical difference brings about a difference in meaning as well. As a
masculine noun, it means man, as a feminine noun, it means people or nation. At any rate,
the ending -um for the masculine and feminine noun declensions is always dative plural.
According to the introduction to the poem presented above, it seems that the meaning of
the feminine my people is more adequate to the context than my men.
You should not be misled by the personal pronoun him, that in present-day English has
been relegated to be the accusative/dative masculine singular pronoun. In Old English this
form was dative in all genders in plural. In this verse one may be puzzled by the presence of
two dative nouns and just one verb. However, a pronoun can be modified by an appositive
NP that specifies or modifies it. Thus, we may conclude that Lodum mnum acts as an
apposition to him. As regards the other two words remaining to be dealt with, mon and lc,
both can be either nominative or accusative. As you know, most Old English declensions
did not distinguish between these two cases when they occur in the singular form, and
they are identical in the plural. Accordingly, since giefan is a ditransitive verb we need a
nominative, an accusative and a dative in order to actualise its thematic roles. The semantic
content of these two words can help us. Mon does not need to be translated into man,
because it is also an indefinite pronoun such as present-day English one. You may therefore
translate it by any impersonal form such as one or they. This pronoun, which denotes a
human being, seems to be a suitable candidate to the subject of gife, particularly taking into
account that lc means offering or gift.
SECOND LINE: willa hy hine aecgn, gif h on reat cyme.
Here we find three personal pronouns: hy, hine and h. Personal pronouns distinguish
case, number and gender on most occasions, so you should not find any difficulties in
categorising these words. From this point forward, we will not comment on personal
pronouns unless there exist any special circumstance surrounding a specific pronoun.
Although dictionaries and glossaries help to identify case, gender and number of pronouns,
the reader should assimilate some basic pronoun forms so that she saves time with
understanding the categorisation. The next noun is part of a prepositional phrase (PP),
on rat threatening. The lack of an inflection at the end of the noun identifies it as a

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

nominative or an accusative, as nominatives cannot be governed by prepositions this must


be an accusative. Its meaning offers some problems, it may mean troop or threat, scholars
do not agree on one or the other, thus we find a difference in the present-day English
versions of this poem concerning this term.
FOURTH AND FIFTH LINES: Wulf is on ege, i on erre./ Fst is t glond,

fenne beiworpen.
In verse four, the words Wulf and i are easily categorised. ege island is a strong
feminine noun. Since the preposition on can govern either accusative or dative, it does
not identify case with this noun. This should not bother us when trying to make sense
of this phrase as it is a quite simple locative expression. However, in order to understand
whether it is accusative or dative we can identify erre other, as a pronoun referring
anaphorically to ege. In the following line, the demonstrative t sheds some light on
the case, gender and number of the noun that it precedes glond island. t can be
either nominative or accusative singular neuter of the article se, t, so the, that. Since
we have a structure with a linking verb and an adjective it is easily concluded that the NP
t glond is the subject, and thus both elements are nominative. The adjective Fst
fast has the same gender and number as the noun that it qualifies, singular neuter. As
it stands alone, the declension of the adjective is strong. Fenne fen is a neuter noun and
the ending in -e, corresponds to the dative singular. In this case, this dative has a locative
value.
SIXTH LINE: Sindon wlrowe weras r on e;
Wer man is masculine. This word is declined exactly like stn stone and therefore,
weras can be either nominative or accusative plural. As we need a subject for the linking
verb Sindon in this clause, the first option seems to be the most feasible. Consistent
with the case, gender and number of the noun it qualifies, the adjective wlrowe
savage, declined strong, is nominative plural masculine. Finally, in the same verse, the
adverb r has an appositive relationship with on e.
NINTH LINE: Wulfes i mnes wd-lastum wenum dogode;
When it comes to line nine, the personal pronoun i very clearly stands as the sentence
subject. It is very easy to see, there are two agreements, Wulfes mnes my Wulf in genitive
case and wd-lastum wenum distant longings in dative case. Wenum is dative plural
feminine. The strong declined adjective that qualifies it, wd-lastum, agrees in gender, case
and number as expected.

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

TENTH AND ELEVENTH LINES: onne hit ws rni weder ond i reotugu

st,/ onne m s beaducfa bgum bilede,


The NP rni weder rainy weather as its antecedent hit shows, can only be nominative
or accusative neuter singular; the presence of bon points to the first option. To identify
reotugu, the dictionary gives us the adjective rotig mournful, sad. As the speaker is
apparently a woman we can consider the -u ending to correspond to the nominative singular
feminine of the strong declension of adjectives, and to refer to the personal pronoun i.
By now the reader should be able to make a few clever guesses about the structure we
have in verse eleventh. First, we have s beaducfa the courageous (man), where an article
precedes a word which should probably agree in case, gender and number. To begin, the
dictionary tells us that beaducfa is an adjective. As it appears following a demonstrative,
we can conclude that we must be dealing with the weak form of the adjective, which
presents an a for the nominative singular masculine. Therefore, we should conclude that
we are dealing with an adjective used substantively. The reader should bear in mind that the
used of substantivised adjectives is a frequent device in languages with a rich morphological
system. Finally, we are left with bgum, the dative plural form of the noun bg arm. The
verb bilecgan to surround requires one internal argument: a thing to surround, m and,
eventually, the entity used to do this action can be expressed as an adjunct in dative case:
bgum with his arms.
TWELFTH LINE: ws m wyn t on, ws m hwre ac l.
In the twelfth verse we have two parallel structures, which is a typical stylistic device in
poetry that eases the understanding of a text for the modern reader. In both constructions
a person is presented experiencing a feeling. The person is coded by a dative, and the state
by a nominative: wyn delight and l pain, which are linked by bon. The person is clearly
the speaker as it is shown by the presence of m. According to Hall (1996), the PP t on is
equivalent to the present-day phrases to that extent, so that, or after that. The last words to
identify here are the conjunction hwre yet or however and the adverb ac also.
THIRTEENTH, FOURTEENTH AND FIFTEENTH LINES: Wulf, mn Wulf, wna

m ne/ soce edydon, ne seld-cymas, / murnende md, nles metelste.


Wulf, mn Wulf are vocatives, their inclusion here should come as no surprise as this
poem is a lament from the absence of Wulf. The default case of all vocatives in Old English
is the nominative. In the verse, we find the pronoun m that the speaker uses to refer to
herself. Wna and ne your absence could be part of the same NP. Whenever we have
a noun and a determiner the first step is to identify the gender, case and number of that
determiner. This will prove extremely helpful in understanding the noun it accompanies.

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

As we have already mentioned above, possessive adjectives are declined strong. Our verb
demands a plural subject, the adjective soce ill cannot do that work because it is a singular
form. Thus, we can assign that role to the NP under analysis, Wna ne, since we can safely
affirm that it is nominative plural. Finally, the adjective soce in accusative elaborates the
change of state undergone by m and expressed by edydon. Then we have a series of three
NPs ne seld-cymas you rare visits, / murnende md grieving spirit, nles metelste not
the lack of food. Their endings show that they can be in nominative or accusative case. The
parallelism between ne seld-cymas and the subject of edydon, the NP wna ne, offers
us a clue, we can be dealing with a multiple subject conformed by these four noun phrases.
The semantic content of these NPs will confirm our hypothesis. Thus, they must be in
nominative case.
SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH LINES: Gehyrest , adwacer? Uncerne

armne hwelp / bire wulf t wuda.


Now it is time to tackle our last stanza. The beginning of the first verse is quite
straightforward, adwacer is interpellated through the corresponding pronoun and name
in a question. The next clause is constructed through the next two lines. The nominative
wulf following the verb is a strong candidate to be the subject. Bire carries is a transitive
verb thus it needs a direct object the three words in the line above, Uncerne armne
hwelp our wrench whelp, could fulfil this function. A glance at them enable us to affirm
that they are in accusative case made up of the dual possessive uncerne our. We know this
because of the ending -ne, which is present in the possessive, is characteristic of the strong
declension of adjectives for the accusative singular masculine. This ending is also found
in the adjective armne wretched. Thus, the case number of gender of the noun hwelp
is quite straightforward, as it must agree with the determiners that precede it. Finally, t
wuda to the woods is the locative expression to be expected in collocation with a verb
like beran to carry. This is a two-place predicate, we carry something somewhere. In Old
English direction could have also been coded by the accusative case, but often we find the
preposition to in this function. This is a construction that has survived to present-day
English. Thus, when you encounter a verb like beran you must try to find either of the
two structures.
EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH LINES: t mon ae tslite tte n
fre

esomnad ws,/ uncer iedd eador.


Concerning the last two verses mon someone, which we commented on above, is
without question the subject of tslite separate. Even though mon is a singular word, it is
very often rendered as plural, men or people, in present-day English translations due to its

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

indefinite nature: Men easily separate that which was never joined. Tslite is a transitive
verb but we have not yet encountered a suitable candidate to be its direct object. ae
easily is an adverb. It should be noted that -e is characteristic of adverbs in Old English. If
the reader pays attention she will also recognize the adverb nfre never as our present-day
never. tte, according to Hall (1996) functions as a pronoun that can be translated as a
double relative pronoun that which: men separate that which was never joined. This can
function as both, the direct object for the sentence verb tslite separate and the subject
of the passive structure esomnad ws was joined. Although this information is syntactic,
it must be included here as it allows us to determine what slots must be filled in the
clause and, therefore, the case of the words that remain to be analysed. This is particularly
necessary considering the degree of syncretism that exists in Old English case endings. As
the syntactic functions have already been fulfilled, the words in the last verse must be the
referent of the relative pronoun tte. This referent should be the last three words uncer
iedd eador our song together.

useful Tips
Working out the case of nouns will help us to understand or identify their
function with respect to the verbs in the sentence. The easiest way to obtain
this information is by examining the accompanying demonstrative or article,
when one exists. If not, all elements forming the noun phrase can shed light
on this task, for example adjectives. Remember that the subject must agree
in number with the verb, thus do not assign to any nominative the subject
function without first checking its number. When it comes to the direct and
indirect objects this is not necessary. Finally, the meaning of a noun also gives
you a clue so as to whether it can work as the subject or one of the objects of a
verb. For example, if you have the verb lufian to love in a text, it is not likely
or impossible that a word such as nama name can be its subject. This would
constitute a case of semantic clash. Of course, in poetry, lexical items are more
flexible when it comes to the selectional preferences that they impose on their
neighbouring partners.

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

3 Syntax at Phrase Level


FIRST LINE: Lodum is mnum swyle him mon lc gife;
For NPs, the preferred situation is for all modifiers to precede the head noun. The
most frequent order closely resembles that of present-day English. However, the reader has
probably realised that the first verse of our poem already violates this rule. The possessive
follows the head of the NP. This is infrequent and usually only occurs in poetry. As you
may remember, this NP stands in an appositive relation with him. The place occupied by
appositions in relation with the nouns they describe shows great variation.
SECOND LINE: willa hy hine aecgn, gif h on reat cyme.
In spite of not having a question mark, the word-order resembles a question. In presentday questions the auxiliary precedes the lexical verb, as well, and they are separated by the
sentence subject. However, in this verse the direct object also mediates the relationship
between them: willa hy hine aecgn they wish to capture him. This is due to the fact that
when the object is a pronoun is often placed between S and V. Note that, like in present-day
language, modals are combined with the infinitive without to (bare or plain infinitive).
FOURTH AND FIFTH LINES: Wulf is on ege, i on erre./ Fst is t glond,

fenne beiworpen.
In line four, there are two PPs on ege on an isle and on erre on the other, even
though that is not the subject at issue, you should notice that some prepositions were used
in a different way in Old English in contrast to the way they are used today. Prepositions
may govern the accusative, dative or both. They may also govern the instrumental case,
but it does not really differ from the phrases we find in the dative case. In some phrases the
presence of one of the main cases, the accusative or dative, may highlight some semantic
differences. For example, in locative expressions the accusative may indicate direction
towards, while the dative emphasises the extension of the object denoted by the noun.
Even though the two PPs under analysis resemble other present-day language PPs, you
can find situations where the preposition follows its object in Old English. Therefore,
when it appears that one preposition is present without an object, do not despair and look
at the element preceding it. In verse five we have a NP, t glond that island, where a
demonstrative precedes the head of the phrase: That island is stuck fast in the fens.
SIXTH LINE: Sindon wlrowe weras r on e;
In wlrowe weras murderous people we see that the noun follows the adjective which
modifies it. This is the preferred order but the adjective could also be found in postposition.

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

NINTH LINE: Wulfes i mnes wd-lastum wenum dogode;


In the first verse of the next stanza we have another NP where the possessive follows the
noun, Wulfes mnes. As mentioned above, this is particularly frequent in poetry. Instead,
the following NP wd-lastum wenum distant longings shows the preferred order and the
adjective precedes the noun.
THIRTEENTH, FOURTEENTH AND FIFTEENTH LINES: Wulf, mn Wulf, wna

m ne/ soce edydon, ne seld-cymas, / murnende md, nles metelste.


In the thirteenth verse, we have two more cases of two NPs with a possessive. While the
first mn Wulf shows the typical situation, the second is more difficult because not only
does the possessive follow the noun, but they are also separated by one word: wnane.
Even though NPs in Old English can be discontinuous, that normally happens with long
post-modifiers that we expect to occur at the end of the NP. The separation of modifiers
directly connected with the head, such as a possessive, is more infrequent.
Again, in line fourteen, we find a prototypical combination of possessive and noun ne
seld-cymas your rare visits, and in the next verse a prototypical combination of adjective
and noun murnende md mourning mood.
SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH LINES: Gehyrest , adwacer? Uncerne

armne hwelp / bire wulf t wuda.


In the last stanza, we find a NP made up of three elements. Uncerne armne hwelp our
wretched whelp shows the preferred situation, where all modifiers precede the head noun.
In fact, this is the most frequent order, which closely resembles that of the present-day
language: Possessive Adjective + Adjective + Head.
EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH LINES: t mon ae tslite tte nfre

esomnad ws,/ uncer iedd eador.


The NP present in the last verse, uncer iedd our song, also shows the expected
arrangement Possessive + Head Noun.

useful TIPS
When translating poetry you must be ready to find phrasal syntax arrangements
which are not very easy to understand. Examine inflexions carefully so that you
can spot agreements between words that at first sight, by their position in the
sentence, may not seem connected.

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

4 Syntax at Clause Level


Before analysing the syntax of this text. We will provide a short comment on terminology.
Specifically, we would like to make our position clear regarding the use of clause and sentence.
When we have a simple structure either of these terms can be used (Greembaum 1988).
However, when we have a case of parataxis or hypotaxis the word clause is preferred for the
component elements, while sentence is used to refer to the global construction. We would
say we have a compound sentence when dealing with a paratactic construction and a complex
sentence is the name given to a hypotactic structure. On other occasions, the use of sentence
versus clause is a matter of convention. Thus we would say we have a passive sentence but not a
passive clause. In this book, we will stick to the term clause when referring to simple structures.
Much has been written about Old English syntax. Even though it has been traditionally
accepted that Old English is SOV, experts have recently established that this is quite a
partial picture of actual facts (Fisher, van Kemenade, Koopman and van der Wurff 2000;
Mitchell and Robinson 1983). Moreover, scholars have long defended the idea that Old
English syntax was rather chaotic and alien if compared with present-day English. But it
turns out that there is more systematisation than initially thought. Poetry can make things
harder for a beginner approaching Old English texts since poets always use the language
more freely. However, the analysis of the syntax of this poem will show that analysing it is
not so hard once a few principles are understood.
The first step is to be able to identify a full syntactic unit. By this we mean:
1. One complete sentence, if no subordinate clauses depend on it,
2. A complex clause comprising a main clause with all its subordinate structures
3. A compound sentence including two or more coordinate structures
We will outline a few basic concepts to help the reader. There are three basic types
of subordinate clauses: relative, complement and adverbial. 1 The problem with some
conjunctions in Old English is that they have the same form as the corresponding
adverbs; for example can mean both when and then. But on the other hand, Old
English helps us with clues such as word order and the subjunctive marking on the verb.
While the frequent word-order SVO occurs in main clauses as well as in subordinate
clauses, the tendency is for OV and S.V to occur in subordinate structures. However,
you must take this as a regular pattern and not as a firm rule. To sum up, when trying to
figure out whether we are in front of a subordinate clause, there are three factors we must
take into account:

In this book, we will use indistinctively the terms complement and noun clause.

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

1. the presence of a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun


2. the mark of the subjunctive on the verb (note that there are subordinate clauses
where the indicative is used)
3. the position of the object with respect to the verb of the potential subordinate
clause
FIRST LINE: Lodum is mnum swyle him mon lc gife;
When we deal with a useful edition, punctuation will help us to divide up the relevant
structures. Thus, in our poem, the first verse is separated from the rest of the poem by a
semi-colon. This is quite a reliable clue, that we have a full syntactic unit before the semicolon. The next step is to count the number of verbs that we have in this chunk. From
the section on verbal morphology we know that there are two: is and gife. Two finite
forms indicate that we have two clauses. Now, we have to decide whether they stand in
a relation of subordination (hypotaxis) or they constitute a sequence of independent
clauses (parataxis). The presence of swyle as if leads to subordination, nevertheless,
swyle is one of those words that, as we pointed out earlier, it is ambiguous between a
conjunction and an adverb. We are left then with two verbs and a potential subordinating
conjunction. The next question is to identify the mood of both verbs, is is indicative;
thus it is can be part of a main as well as of a subordinate clause, if there is one. But we
have gife which is subjunctive, together with the presence of swyle, we have two factors
strongly pointing to subordination. Furthermore, (lc gift) the direct object of gife
precedes the verb, signalling OV word-order. There are three factors converging in this
clause that supports our guess that this is a subordinate clause. Thus, the verb in the main
clause is the verb is. As we pointed out above, pro-drop is a frequent phenomenon in
Old English, we therefore should not be surprised by the absence of the corresponding
pronoun, viz. a dummy subject such as it.
SECOND LINE: willa h hine aecgn, gif h on reat cyme.
When it comes to the next sentence, the conditional conjunction gif if unmistakably
indicates that the clause it introduces is subordinate. We also find the verb at the end of the
clause, so we cannot strictly speak of a OV word-order since cuman is intransitive and the
PP on reat threatening has a basically adverbial value. But we still can identify here the
S.V pattern, which is typically found in subordinate clauses. Regarding the first clause,
willa hy hine aecgn will they capture him?, as stated earlier given its semantic content
we can tell this construction resembles a question, this could account for the subject-verb
inversion. We have already pointed out that there is a tendency for the object to occur
between the subject and the verb when it is a pronoun.

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

THIRD LINE: Ungeli is s.


We have reached the end of the stanza and the third line, which is also part of the refrain.
This is an anomalous construction in the sense that it lacks a noun accompanying the
nominative form of the adjective that functions as the subject. As the adjective Ungeli
unequal is in nominative case, we can assume the existence of an elliptic subject and Ungeli
would act as its subject complement (Cs). The translation that Bosworth and Toller (1976)
suggest for this construction is our lots are different. We can also find here a structure
consisting of a linking verb and a noun in dative case that conveys the idea of possession, which
can be found in Latin (est mihi domus I have a house) and it is still present in French. In this
construction we have bon and a dative referring to a human being that experiences some state.
In fact, as you have already observed, there are further examples of this construction in this
poem: 12 ws m wyn t on, ws m hwre ac l: it was joy to me yet it was also pain to me.
FOURTH AND FIFTH LINES: Wulf is on ege, i on erre./ Fst is t glond,

fenne beiworpen.
The syntax of the fourth verse is not difficult to understand. First, we have a case of asyndetic
parataxis Wulf is on ege, i on erre Wulf is on an island, I am on another. The word-order
does not differ from what we would have in present-day English.2 In the second clause, the verb
bon has been omitted. This is also a frequent operation in the present-day language.
In the fifth line, we have a case of verb fronting motivated by the topicalization of the
adjective Fst, thus we have VS word order. The construction with the past participle of
beweorpan: fenne beiworpen set in the marsh can be assigned an appositive function
elaborating the information we have about t glond that island.
SIXTH LINE: Sindon wlrowe weras r on e;
We can interpret the presence of bon in initial position as the introduction of an
interrogative structure, despite the absence of question mark in our edition. This question is
purely rhetoric because the speaker already knows the answer: Sindon wlrowe weras r
on e are the people on that island cruel? This is consistent with the content of the refrain
below. However, it could also be a statement and the placement of the verb in initial position
can be a stylistic treatment. This should not surprise us being located in a work of poetry.
NINTH LINE: Wulfes i mnes wd-lastum wenum dogode;
In line nine, we also find this OV order even though this is not a subordinate clause.
This supports the view that generalisations about word-order in Old English should be
taken as partial truths. As stated above, because the text is a poem we are more likely to
2

Asyndetic parataxis is characterised by the lack of conjunctions.

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

find abnormal word orders to suit the aesthetic intentions of the poet. In other words, what
might be taken as a rule for prose may not work in poetry.
TENTH AND ELEVENTH LINES: onne hit ws rni weder ond i reotugu

st,/ onne m s beaducfa bgum bilede,


We now turn to verses ten and eleven. We seem to have a correlative construction,
which is a usual stylistic device in Old English literature. This structure presents a further
complexity, the first sentence is composed of two coordinate clauses linked by ond. In the
onneonne correlation, one of these particles should be a subordinating conjunction
when and the other, an adverb part of the principal clause. The verbs can shed some light
on this construction. The verbs in the two coordinated clauses introduced by the first
onne are indicative ws was and st sat. The verb introduced in the second clause is
ambiguous between preterit indicative and subjunctive bilede surrounded, thus, here we
could have a subordinate clause: when the warrior surrounded me with his arms. As we
have not obtained much information from the verbal forms, it is advisable to rely on wordorder. In correlations, VS would show we are in front of a main clause, while S.V is the
preferred order for a subordinate clause. Again, we have to insist on the fact that this rule
does not work so efficiently for poetry. This is shown in both verses, since by the look of the
syntactic layout they both appear to be subordinate. It could also be the case that there is no
correlation at all, and that we simply have two consecutive subordinate clauses, being the
main clause is in the next verse (ws m wyn t on, ws m hwre ac l It was joy to me
yet it was also pain to me). However, if we pay attention to the semantic content of both
clauses, it supports the syntactic hints that we obtain from this structure. It appears that
the second onne is a subordinating conjunction, and the first is part of the main clause. It
turns out that bilede is in the subjunctive mood, which has always been an option: then it
was raining and I sat sad, when the courageous man surrounded me with his arms.
TWELFTH LINE: ws m wyn t on, ws m hwre ac l.
Here we have a compound sentence made up of two coordinate clauses linked by the
conjunction hwre however. As it usually corresponds to paratactic structures both verbs
are in indicative mood. The word-order in these clauses can hinder you in the process of
translation. Once the first clause is disentangled the second will be less problematic. As we
have already seen in this text, mental states are expressed by a noun referring to the state, the
verb bon and the experiencer coded by a dative. This can be seen more clearly below:
1. Linking verb: ws + Experiencer: m + Mental State: wyn
It was joy to me
2. Linking verb: ws + Experiencer: m + Mental State: l
It was pain to me

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

Even though you would have expected the conjunction hwre at the beginning of
the second clause, consider that in present-day English in a poetic text this conjunction
could be placed in any position. We recommend that you identify and ignore adverbs and
function words (with the help of a glossary if necessary) and focus on the basic structure of
the clause. Specially, in cases where the structure is not so obvious.
THIRTEENTH, FOURTEENTH AND FIFTEENTH LINES: Wulf, mn Wulf, wna

m ne/ soce edydon, ne seld-cymas, / murnende md, nles metelste.


The next three verses of the following stanza are organised in a single clause as the
presence of a single verb indicates: edydon has done. In the section on nominal
morpholog y, we concluded that we have a multiple subject: your absence, you rare
comings, this mourning mood, not the lack of food. The word-order in this clause may
not be easily understood; the NP working as a subject is split by the verb and the subject
complement soce.
SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH LINES: Gehyrest , adwacer? Uncerne

armne hwelp / bire wulf t wuda.


In our last stanza, we have an independent question Gehyrest , adwacer? We must
point out that the inversion of pronominal subjects is only regular in questions and clauses
beginning with negative adverbs. The next clause is bounded by a period. This time it
presents the preferred order for main clauses VS when the direct object is topycalised.
EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH LINES: t mon ae tslite tte nfre

esomnad ws,/ uncer iedd eador.


In the following syntactic unit we find the only relative clause of the poem. First,
focussing on the main clause we find OVS, even though demonstrative pronouns are
not usually subject to topicalization. This stylistic strategy is used to catch the readers
attention with the demonstrative that. The relative clause is introduced by tte. Surely,
you already know that the relative pronoun is the indeclinable e. But for the sake of being
able to cope with the diversity that you will find in Old English you must be aware that
other elements can play the role of relative pronoun. For instance, se e that combines
a form of the demonstrative se with the indeclinable relative e. The pronoun we are
analysing has become frozen, the medial has become t due to the operation of very
simple sound laws that the reader can figure out on her own. According to Bosworth and
Toller (1976: 1033) one frequently finds this form when it is in apposition to t or hit
standing as object in the main clause, which is precisely the case in this verse. The poet
confers the tension to the readers and not until the end is the meaning of t revealed by a
NP uncer iedd our song.

OLD ENGLISH

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

useful TIPS
Even if Old English syntax is not that chaotic as has been traditionally claimed,
still it is a challenge to translate. However, you should bear in mind, the basic
word-order in Old English is SVO, which is also the basic order in present-day
English. The syntactic force of this order is grounded on the syncretism that
already existed in Old English between the nominative and the accusative
endings. We also find SOV, particularly when the object is a pronoun. None
of these orders are helpful when it comes to differentiating a subordinate from
a principal clause. In this sense, only the S.V order signals a subordinate
sentence, although in very few cases it can also occur in main clauses. Finally,
subject-verb inversion (VS) is a particularly distinctive feature of main clauses.

5 Glossed Text
Wulf and Eadwacer
1 Leodum is minum swyle him

mon

lc

gife

[people] [is] [my] [as if ] [him] [someone] [present] [give:subj]


2 willa hy hine aecgan, gif he on

reat cyme

[will] [they] [him] [capture] [if ] [he] [on] [threat] [comes]


3 Ungelic

is s

[unequal] [is] [us]


4

Wulf is on

iege ic on oerre

[Wulf ] [is] [on] [island] [I] [on] [another]


5 fst is t eglond, fenne beiworpen.
[fast] [is] [the] [island] [fens] [set]
6 Sindon wlreowe

weras r

on

ige

[are] [bloodthirsty] [men] [there] [on] [island]


7 willa hy

hine aecgan gif he on

reat

cyme

[will] [they] [him] [capture] [if ] [he] [on] [threat] [comes]

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DIACHRONY AND TYPOLOGY

8 Ungelc is us
[unequal] [is] [us]
9 Wulfes ic mines widlastum wenum dogode
[Wulf ] [I] [my] [distant] [longings] [suffered]
10 onne hit ws renig weder ond ic reotugu st
[then] [it] [was] [rainy] [weather] [and] [I] [sad] [sat]
11 onne mec se beaducafa bogum bilegde,
[then] [me] [the] [warrior] [arms] [laid]
12 ws me wyn

to on

ws me hwre eac

la

[was] [me] [joy] [to that extent] [was] [me] [however] [also] [pain]
13 wulf, min wulf

wena me ine

[Wulf ] [my] [Wulf ] [absence] [me] [your]


14 seoce gedydon ine

seldcymas

[sad] [did] [your] [rare comings]


15 murnende md nales meteliste
[mourning] [mood] [not] [lack of food]
16 Gehyrest u,

Eadwacer?

Uncerne

earmne

hwelp

[hear] [you] [Eadwacer] [our: dual] [wrenched] [whelp]


17 bire

wulf to wuda.

[carries] [Wulf ] [to] [woods]


18 t

mon

eae toslite

tte

nfre gesomnad ws

[that] [someone] [easily] [separate] [that which] [never] [joined] [was]


19 uncer

giedd geador

[our: dual] [song] [together]

OLD ENGLISH

6 Key Translation
Wulf and Eadwacer
It is as if someone had given a present to my
people.
They wish to capture him if he comes
threatening.
It is unequal to us.
Wulf is on an island, I am on another.
The island, set in the fens, is fast.
Men are bloodthirsty there, on that island.
They wish to capture him if he comes
threatening.
It is unequal to us.
I have suffered with distant longings for my Wulf.
Then it was rainy weather and I sat sad.
When the warrior surrounded me with his arms.
It was joy to me, to such extent, it was also pain
to me, though.
Wulf, my Wulf, your absence, your rare comings
have made me sad, this mourning mood, not the
lack of food.
Do you hear, Eadwacer? A wolf shall carry our
wrenched baby to the woods.
Men easily separate that which was never joined,
our song together.

TEXT 1: Wuld and Eadwacer

49