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Old English Online

Lesson 4

Jonathan Slocum

The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan relates certain travels attributed to Ohthere, whose story along with that of one Wulfstan was included in King Alfred's translation from Latin of the Compendious History of the World by Paulus Orosius (d. 420). Ohthere was a Norwegian hunter, whaler, and trader who tells among other things of his voyages north and east of the Scandinavian peninsula, round the Kola peninsula to the White Sea (all of these terms being modern). Orosius' History did not include Ohthere's tale, nor that of Wulfstan; rather, these stories were composed or copied from an unknown source and inserted into the Anglo-Saxon translation of the History.

While their factual bases cannot be verified, both of these stories contain far less fanciful narrative and much more apparent fact than is normally found in popular medieval travelers' tales. Not all the places and peoples mentioned in the Voyages can be identified with certainty, but what can be pinned down fits very well with geography and a ninth-century setting.

Reading and Textual Analysis

Our selection includes lines 63-97, found on pp. 19-20 in: Charles T. Onions, ed. (1959), Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader in Prose and Verse, 14th edition, Oxford: Clarendon. In it, we read of the geography and peoples of Scandinavia, and of an apparent (?) half-circumnavigation of the British Isles, heading west and north from Wessex, where Ohthere is presumably located while narrating this story, past Ireland on the way around Scotland to Norway and a port in the south thereof. (There are several other theories concerning the route, signalling its uncertain identification.) Our selection ends with his mention of a great sea to the east.

H sde t Normanna land wre swe lang and swe sml.

  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • sde -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <secgan, sgde, sgd> say -- said
  • t -- subordinating conjunction <t> that -- that
  • Normanna -- proper noun, masculine; genitive plural of <Nor-mann> Norwegian, lit. north-man -- of the Norwegians
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; nominative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- the land
  • wre -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite subjunctive of <wesan> be, happen -- was
  • swe -- adverb <swe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • lang -- adjective; nominative singular of <lang> long -- long
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • swe -- adverb <swe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • sml -- adjective; nominative singular of <sml> small, narrow -- narrow

Eal t his man er oe ettan oe erian mg, t l wi s;

  • eal -- adjective; nominative singular of <eall> all -- all
  • t -- demonstrative used as relative pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <s, so, t> who, which, that -- that
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- a
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- man
  • er -- correlative conjunction <hwer> either -- either
  • oe -- correlative conjunction <oe> or -- ...
  • ettan -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <ettan, ettede, etted> graze, pasture -- graze
  • oe -- correlative conjunction <oe> or -- or
  • erian -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <erian, erede, ered> plow -- plow
  • mg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- can
  • t -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <s, so, t> that -- ...
  • l -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular present of <licgan, lg, lgon, legen> lie, extend, be situated -- extends
  • wi -- preposition <wi> against, along -- alongside
  • -- definite article; accusative singular feminine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • s -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <s> sea, lake -- sea

and t is ah on sumum stwum swe cldig;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- but
  • t -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <s, so, t> that -- it
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- is
  • ah -- adverb <ah> yet, though, however -- however
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sumum -- adjective; dative plural of <sum> some, a certain -- certain
  • stwum -- strong noun, feminine; dative plural of <stw> place -- places
  • swe -- adverb <swe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • cldig -- adjective; nominative singular of <cldig> rocky -- rocky

and licga wilde mras wi astan and wi uppon emnlange m bnum lande.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • licga -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person plural present of <licgan, lg, lgon, legen> lie, extend, be situated -- lie
  • wilde -- adjective; accusative plural of <wilde> wild, untamed -- wild
  • mras -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <mr> moor; mountainous region -- moors
  • wi astan -- adverb <wi astan> to the east -- to the east
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • wi uppon -- adverb <wi uppan> upwards, above -- above
  • emnlange -- preposition <emnlange> along -- beside
  • m -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • bnum -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <bn> inhabited, occupied -- inhabited
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land

On m mrum eardia Finnas.

  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • m -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • mrum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <mr> moor; mountainous region -- moors
  • eardia -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person plural present of <eardian, eardode, eardod> live, dwell -- live
  • Finnas -- proper noun, masculine plural; nominative of <Finnas> Finns -- Finns

And t bne land is asteweard brdost, and symle sw noror sw smlre.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • t -- definite article; nominative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • bne -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <bn> inhabited, occupied -- inhabited
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; nominative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- is
  • asteweard -- adverb <ast-weard> eastward -- to the east
  • brdost -- adjective; superlative of <brd> broad, open -- broadest
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • symle -- adverb <simle> ever, always -- ever
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- ...
  • noror -- adverb; comparative of <nor> north(wards) -- further north
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- ...
  • smlre -- adjective; comparative of <sml> small, narrow -- narrower

astewerd hit mg bon syxtig mla brd, oe hwne brdre;

  • astewerd -- adverb <ast-weard> eastward -- to the east
  • hit -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- it
  • mg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- may
  • bon -- anomalous verb; infinitive of <bon> be, become, exist -- be
  • syxtig -- numeral <siextig> sixty -- sixty
  • mla -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <ml> mile -- miles
  • brd -- adjective; nominative singular of <brd> broad, open -- wide
  • oe -- correlative conjunction <oe> or -- or
  • hwne -- adverb <hwn> somewhat, a little -- somewhat
  • brdre -- adjective; comparative of <brd> broad, open -- more

and middeweard rtig oe brdre;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • middeweard -- adverb <midde-weard> mid-ward, middling -- towards the middle
  • rtig -- numeral <rtig> thirty -- thirty
  • oe -- correlative conjunction <oe> or -- or
  • brdre -- adjective; comparative of <brd> broad, open -- more

and noreweard h cw, r hit smalost wre, t hit mihte bon rora mla brd t m mre;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • noreweard -- adverb <nor-weard> northward -- to the north
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • cw -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <cwean, cw, cwdon, cweden> say, speak -- said
  • r -- adverb <r> there, where -- there
  • hit -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- it
  • smalost -- adjective; superlative of <sml> small, narrow -- narrowest
  • wre -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite subjunctive of <wesan> be, happen -- was
  • t -- conjunction <t> so/in order that -- so that
  • hit -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- it
  • mihte -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite optative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might
  • bon -- anomalous verb; infinitive of <bon> be, become, exist -- be
  • rora -- numeral; genitive plural of <re, ro, ro> three -- three
  • mla -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <ml> mile -- miles
  • brd -- adjective; nominative singular of <brd> broad, open -- wide
  • t -- preposition <t> (in)to -- towards
  • m -- definite article; dative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • mre -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <mr> moor; mountainous region -- moor

and se mr syan, on sumum stwum, sw brd sw man mg on twm wucum oferfran;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • mr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <mr> moor; mountainous region -- moor
  • syan -- adverb <syan> afterwards -- afterwards
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sumum -- adjective; dative plural of <sum> some, a certain -- some
  • stwum -- strong noun, feminine; dative plural of <stw> place -- places
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- as
  • brd -- adjective; nominative singular of <brd> broad, open -- wide
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- as
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • mg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • twm -- numeral; feminine plural of <twgen, tw, t> twain, two -- two
  • wucum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <wucu> week -- weeks
  • oferfran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <oferfran, oferfrde, oferfred> traverse -- cross

and on sumum stwum sw brd sw man mg on syx dagum oferfran.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sumum -- adjective; dative plural of <sum> some, a certain -- some
  • stwum -- strong noun, feminine; dative plural of <stw> place -- places
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- as
  • brd -- adjective; nominative singular of <brd> broad, open -- wide
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- as
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • mg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • syx -- numeral <siex> six -- six
  • dagum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <dg> day -- days
  • oferfran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <oferfran, oferfrde, oferfred> traverse -- cross

onne is temnes m lande seweardum, on re healfe s mres, Swoland, o t land noreweard;

  • onne -- adverb <onne> then, when -- then
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- is
  • temnes -- preposition <temnes> alongside -- alongside
  • m -- demonstrative article; dative singular neuter of <se, so, t> that -- that
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land # Norway
  • seweardum -- adjective; dative singular of <se-weard> southward -- on the south
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • re -- adjective; dative singular feminine of <er> other, next, second -- the other
  • healfe -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <healf> half, part, side -- side
  • s -- definite article; genitive singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- of the
  • mres -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <mr> moor; mountainous region -- moors
  • Swoland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Swo-land> Sweden -- Sweden
  • o -- preposition <o> until, up to, as far as -- as far as
  • t -- demonstrative article; accusative singular neuter of <se, so, t> that -- that
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land # Norway
  • noreweard -- adverb <nor-weard> northward -- to the north

and temnes m lande noreweardum, Cwna land.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • temnes -- preposition <temnes> alongside -- alongside
  • m -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- that
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land
  • noreweardum -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <nor-weard> northward -- on the north
  • Cwna -- proper noun, masculine plural; genitive of <Cwnas> Cwenas, Cwena people -- of the Cwena people # a Finnish tribe
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; nominative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- the land

Cwnas hergia hwlum on Normen ofer one mr, hwlum Normen on h.

  • -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • Cwnas -- proper noun, masculine plural; nominative of <Cwnas> Cwenas, Cwena people -- Cwenas
  • hergia -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person plural present of <hergian, hergode, gehergod> harry, raid, ravage -- conduct raids
  • hwlum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <hwl> while, time -- sometimes
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- against
  • -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • Normen -- proper noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Nor-mann> Norwegian, lit. north-man -- Norwegians
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- across
  • one -- definite article; accusative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • mr -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mr> moor; mountainous region -- moor
  • hwlum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <hwl> while, time -- sometimes
  • -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • Normen -- proper noun, masculine; nominative plural of <Nor-mann> Norwegian, lit. north-man -- Norwegians
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- against
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- them

And r sint swe micle meras fersce geond mras;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • r -- adverb <r> there, where -- there
  • sint -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural present indicative of <is> be, become, exist -- are
  • swe -- adverb <swe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • micle -- adjective; nominative plural of <micel> much, great -- large
  • meras -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <mere> mere, lake, sea -- lakes
  • fersce -- adjective; nominative plural of <fersc> fresh -- fresh-water
  • geond -- preposition <geond> over, through(out) -- throughout
  • -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • mras -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <mr> moor; mountainous region -- moors

and bera Cwnas hyra scypu ofer land on meras, and anon hergia on Normen;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • bera -- strong verb, class IV; 3rd person plural present of <beran, br, bron, boren> bear, carry -- carry
  • -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • Cwnas -- proper noun, masculine plural; nominative of <Cwnas> Cwenas, Cwena people -- Cwenas
  • hyra -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- their
  • scypu -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- over
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- the land
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- onto
  • -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • meras -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <mere> mere, lake, sea -- lakes
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • anon -- adverb <onan> thence, from there -- from there
  • hergia -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person plural present of <hergian, hergode, gehergod> harry, raid, ravage -- raid
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- ...
  • -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • Normen -- proper noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Nor-mann> Norwegian, lit. north-man -- Norwegians

h habba swe ltle scypa and swe lohte.

  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • habba -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person plural present of <habban, hfde, hfd> have, possess -- have
  • swe -- adverb <swe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • ltle -- adjective; accusative plural of <ltel> little, small -- small
  • scypa -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • swe -- adverb <swe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • lohte -- adjective; accusative plural of <loht> light, easy -- light

hthere sde t so scr htte Hlgoland e h on bde.

  • hthere -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <hthere> Ohthere -- Ohthere
  • sde -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <secgan, sgde, sgd> say -- said
  • t -- subordinating conjunction <t> that -- that
  • so -- definite article; nominative singular feminine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • scr -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <scr> shire, district, division -- district
  • htte -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular passive of <htan, heht, hton, hten> call, name; order -- is called # relic of medio-passive
  • Hlgoland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Hlgo-land> Helgeland -- Helgeland
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- which
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • bde -- irregular verb; 3rd person singular preterite of <ban, bde, bne> dwell, live -- lived

H cw t nn man ne bde be noran him.

  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • cw -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <cwean, cw, cwdon, cweden> say, speak -- said
  • t -- subordinating conjunction <t> that -- that
  • nn -- contraction; adverb <ne> not + indefinite article <n> a, an, one -- no
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- ... # double negative, for emphasis
  • bde -- irregular verb; 3rd person singular preterite of <ban, bde, bne> dwell, live -- lived
  • be noran -- adverb <be noran> north of -- north of
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- him

onne is n port on seweardum m lande, one man ht Scringes hal.

  • onne -- adverb <onne> then, when -- ...
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- (there) is
  • n -- indefinite article; nominative singular of <n> a, an, one -- a
  • port -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <port> port, harbor -- port
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • seweardum -- adjective; dative singular of <se-weard> southward -- the south of
  • m -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- that
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land # Norway
  • one -- demonstrative used as relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <s, so, t> who, which, that -- which
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • ht -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular present of <htan, heht, hton, hten> call, name; order -- calls
  • Scringes hal -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Scringes-hal> Skiringssal -- Skiringssal

yder h cw t man ne mihte geseglian on num mne, gyf man on niht wcode, and lce dge hfde ambyrne wind;

  • yder -- adverb <yder> thither -- there
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • cw -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <cwean, cw, cwdon, cweden> say, speak -- said
  • t -- subordinating conjunction <t> that -- that
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- not
  • mihte -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite optative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- could
  • geseglian -- weak verb, class II; infinitive of <geseglian, geseglode, geseglod> sail -- sail
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • num -- indefinite article; dative singular masculine of <n> a, an, one -- a
  • mne -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <mna> month -- month
  • gyf -- conjunction <gif> if -- if
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- at
  • niht -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <niht> night -- night
  • wcode -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular preterite of <wician, wcode, wcod> camp, lodge -- anchored # (near the shore)
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • lce -- adjective; instrumental singular of <lc> all, any -- each
  • dge -- noun, masculine; instrumental singular of <dg> day -- day
  • hfde -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <habban, hfde, hfd> have, possess -- had
  • ambyrne -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <ambyr> favorable, fair -- (a) favorable
  • wind -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <wind> wind -- wind

and ealle hwle h sceal seglian be lande.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • ealle -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <eall> all -- all
  • -- definite article; accusative singular feminine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • hwle -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <hwl> while, time -- while
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • sceal -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class IV; 3rd person singular present indicative of <sculan, sceal, sculon, scolde> shall, ought to -- shall
  • seglian -- weak verb, class II; infinitive of <seglian, seglode, seglod> sail -- sail
  • be -- preposition <be> at, by, near -- near
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land

And on t storbord him bi rest raland, and onne gland e synd betux ralande and issum lande.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- to
  • t -- definite article; accusative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • storbord -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <stor-bord> starboard, lit. stear(ing)-board -- starboard
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- of him # the traveler
  • bi -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- is
  • rest -- adverb; superlative of <r> ere, before, formerly -- first
  • raland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <ra-land> Ireland -- Ireland
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • onne -- adverb <onne> then, when -- then
  • -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • gland -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <glond> island -- islands # (Hebrides?)
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- which
  • synd -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural present indicative of <is> be, become, exist -- are
  • betux -- preposition <betux> between -- between
  • ralande -- proper noun, neuter; dative singular of <ra-land> Ireland -- Ireland
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • issum -- demonstrative article; dative singular neuter of <es, os, is> this -- this
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land # England

onne is is land o h cym t Scrincges hale, and ealne weg on t bcbord Norweg.

  • onne -- adverb <onne> then, when -- then
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- continues
  • is -- demonstrative article; nominative singular neuter of <es, os, is> this -- this
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; nominative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land
  • o -- adverbial conjunction <o> until -- until
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- one
  • cym -- strong verb, class IV; 3rd person singular present of <cuman, cwm, cwmon, cumen> come -- comes
  • t -- preposition <t> (in)to -- to
  • Scrincges hale -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Scringes-hal> Skiringssal -- Skiringssal
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • ealne -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <eall> all -- all
  • weg -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <weg> way -- the way
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • t -- definite article; accusative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • bcbord -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <bc-bord> larboard, port side -- port side
  • Norweg -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Norweg> Norway, lit. way leading north -- Norway

Wi san one Scringes hal fyl swe mycel s p in on t lond;

  • wi san -- adverb <wi san> to the south -- to the south of
  • one -- definite article; accusative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • Scringes hal -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Scringes-hal> Skiringssal -- Skiringssal
  • fyl -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular present of <feallan, foll, follon, feallen> fall, flow -- flows
  • swe -- adverb <swe> very, exceedingly -- (a) very
  • mycel -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <micel> much, great -- large
  • s -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <s> sea, lake -- sea
  • p -- adverb <p> up, upwards -- up
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- to
  • t -- demonstrative article; accusative singular neuter of <se, so, t> that -- that
  • lond -- strong noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land

so is brdre onne nig man ofer son mge.

  • so -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <s, so, t> he, she, it -- it
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- is
  • brdre -- adjective; comparative of <brd> broad, open -- wider
  • onne -- adverb <onne> then, when -- than
  • nig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <nig> any -- any
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- man
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- across
  • son -- strong verb, class V; infinitive of <son, seah, sgon, segen> see, look -- see # or son, seah, swon/swon, sewen
  • mge -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present optative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- is able to

And is Gotland on re healfe ongan, and sian Sillende.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- is
  • Gotland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Got-land> Goth land -- Jutland
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • re -- adjective; dative singular feminine of <er> other, next, second -- the other
  • healfe -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <healf> half, part, side -- side
  • ongan -- adverb <ongan> against, back -- opposite
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • sian -- adverb <sian> since, when, afterwards -- thereafter
  • Sillende -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Sillende> Zealand -- Zealand

So s l mnig hund mla p in on t land.

  • so -- definite article; nominative singular feminine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • s -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <s> sea, lake -- sea
  • l -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular present of <licgan, lg, lgon, legen> lie, extend, be situated -- extends
  • mnig -- adjective; nominative singular of <mnig> many -- many
  • hund -- numeral <hund> hundred -- hundred(s)
  • mla -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <ml> mile -- of miles
  • p -- adverb <p> up, upwards -- up
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- to
  • t -- demonstrative article; accusative singular neuter of <se, so, t> that -- that
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land

Lesson Text

H sde t Normanna land wre swe lang and swe sml. Eal t his man er oe ettan oe erian mg, t l wi s; and t is ah on sumum stwum swe cldig; and licga wilde mras wi astan and wi uppon emnlange m bnum lande. On m mrum eardia Finnas. And t bne land is asteweard brdost, and symle sw noror sw smlre. astewerd hit mg bon syxtig mla brd, oe hwne brdre; and middeweard rtig oe brdre; and noreweard h cw, r hit smalost wre, t hit mihte bon rora mla brd t m mre; and se mr syan, on sumum stwum, sw brd sw man mg on twm wucum oferfran; and on sumum stwum sw brd sw man mg on syx dagum oferfran.

onne is temnes m lande seweardum, on re healfe s mres, Swoland, o t land noreweard; and temnes m lande noreweardum, Cwna land. Cwnas hergia hwlum on Normen ofer one mr, hwlum Normen on h. And r sint swe micle meras fersce geond mras; and bera Cwnas hyra scypu ofer land on meras, and anon hergia on Normen; h habba swe ltle scypa and swe lohte.

hthere sde t so scr htte Hlgoland e h on bde. H cw t nn man ne bde be noran him. onne is n port on seweardum m lande, one man ht Scringes hal. yder h cw t man ne mihte geseglian on num mne, gyf man on niht wcode, and lce dge hfde ambyrne wind; and ealle hwle h sceal seglian be lande. And on t storbord him bi rest raland, and onne gland e synd betux ralande and issum lande. onne is is land o h cym t Scrincges hale, and ealne weg on t bcbord Norweg. Wi san one Scringes hal fyl swe mycel s p in on t lond; so is brdre onne nig man ofer son mge. And is Gotland on re healfe ongan, and sian Sillende. So s l mnig hund mla p in on t land.

Translation

He said that the land of the Norwegians was very long and very narrow. All that a man can either graze or plough extends alongside the sea; but it is however in certain places very rocky; and wild moors lie to the east and above, beside the inhabited land. On the moors live Finns. The inhabited land is broadest to the east, and ever narrower further north. To the east it may be sixty miles wide, or somewhat more; and towards the middle, thirty or more. To the north, he said, there it was narrowest, so that it might be three miles wide towards the moor; the moor afterwards, in some places, (is) as wide as one might cross in two weeks; and in some places as wide as one might cross in six days.
Then alongside that land on the south, on the other side of the moors, is Sweden, as far as that land to the north; and alongside that land on the north, the land of the Cwena people. The Cwenas sometimes conduct raids against the Norwegians across the moor, sometimes the Norwegians against them. There are very large fresh-water lakes throughout the moors; the Cwenas carry their ships over the land onto the lakes, and from there raid the Norwegians; they have very small and very light ships.
Ohthere said that the district is called Helgeland, which he lived in. He said that no one lived north of him. There is a port in the south of that land, which one calls Skiringssal. He said that one could not sail there in a month, if one anchored at night, and each day had a favorable wind; and all the while he shall sail near land. To the starboard of him is first Ireland, and then the islands that are between Ireland and this land. Then this land continues until one comes to Skiringssal, and all the way on the port side (is) Norway. To the south of the Skiringssal a very large sea flows up into that land; it is wider than any man is able to see across. Jutland is on the other side, opposite, and thereafter Zealand. The sea extends many hundreds of miles up into that land.

Grammar

16. The Anomalous Verb bon

Old English bon 'to be, become' represents another anomalous verb inherited from Proto-Germanic; this verb survives in modern English in the forms be, been, being. As with wesan (see lesson 1), not all potential variants are found in surviving texts.

bon 'be'   Present Indicative   Present Subjunctive   Imperative
1 Sg.   bo   bo    
2 Sg.   bist   bo   bo
3 Sg.   bi   bo    
Pl.   bo   bon   bo

There are neither preterite forms nor participles. There is a so-called "inflected infinitive" form, t bonne '(in order) to be', which introduces a purpose.

17. The Anomalous Verb eom/is

The third Old English 'to be' verb has no [surviving] infinitive form; some authorities identify it by its 1st person singular form eom 'am', others by its 3rd singular form is 'is'. There are even fewer basic forms than with the other 'to be' verbs:

om 'am'   Present Indicative   Present Subjunctive
1 Sg.   om   se
2 Sg.   eart   s
3 Sg.   is   so
Pl.   sind(on)   s(e)n

The suffix -on of sindon is sometimes present, sometimes absent, in the texts; an alternate spelling of the sind variant is sint. Variations in the subjunctive forms include se for both the 2nd/3rd singular, and the e in the plural may be present or absent.

Negative contractions include nom, neart, and nis (see lesson texts 8 and 9).

18. Strong Verbs in Class IV

Strong Class IV verbs exhibit the four-vowel ablaut pattern -e-, --, --, -o- (or -u-) -- where the ablaut vowel is followed by -l-, -r-, or -m- -- in theory. In practice, some verbs in this class exhibit the effects of sound changes like those that affected Strong III verbs (recall its 4 subclasses). Again we will provide 4 example conjugations.

Our text in this lesson contains the verb beran 'bear, carry' -- the theoretical standard-bearer for this verb class, although it does exhibit an unusual vowel change in the present indicative 2nd/3rd person singular. The text in lesson 1 contains cuman 'come', which is truly exceptional; we arbitrarily select scieran 'shear' and, looking ahead to genumen (past participle of geniman) in lesson 10, niman 'take', which are rather less exceptional than cuman, to fill out the conjugation table.

Strong IV   1   2   3   4
Infinitive   beran 'bear'   scieran 'shear'   niman 'take'   cuman 'come'
Inflected Infin.   t beranne   t scieranne   t nimanne   t cumanne
Imperative Sg.   ber   scier   nim    
Imperative Pl.   bera   sciera   nima   cuma
Pres. Participle   berende   scierende   nimende   cumende
Past Participle   boren   scoren   numen   cumen, cymen
Gerund   berenne   scierenne   nimenne   cumenne
                 
Present Indicative   1   2   3   4
1 Sg.   bere   sciere   nime   cume
2 Sg.   birst, birest   scierest   nimest   cumest, cymest
3 Sg.   bir, bire   sciere   nime   cume, cyme
Plural   bera   sciera   nima   cuma
                 
Present Subjunctive   1   2   3   4
Singular   bere   sciere   nime   cume
Plural   beren   scieren   nimen   cumen, cymen
                 
Preterite Indicative   1   2   3   4
1 Sg.   br   scear   nam   cm, cwm
2 Sg.   bre   scare   nme   cme
3 Sg.   br   scear   nam   cm, cwm
Plural   bron   scaron   nmon   cmon, cwmon
                 
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2   3   4
Singular   bre   scare   nme   cme, cwme
Plural   bren   scaren   nmen   cmen

Another modern English verb descended from an OE Strong IV verb found in our lesson texts is break, although in OE brecan, the liquid -r- precedes the ablaut vowel -- yet another exception to the "rules."

19. Preterite-Present Verbs in Class IV

Preterite-Present verbs were introduced and described in lesson 3, §15. Our text in this lesson (as well as lessons 1 & 2) contains the preterite-present verb sculan 'shall, ought to', which evolved into modern English shall and should; the text in lesson 3 contains onmunan 'esteem, remember, think worthy', formed from the prefix on- plus the verb munan 'remember'. We conjugate these two to illustrate the preterite-present verbs in Class IV.

Pret-Pres. IV   1   2
Infinitive   sculan 'shall'   munan 'remember'
Inflected Infin.   t sculanne   t munanne
Imperative Sg.   scul   mun
Imperative Pl.   scula   muna
Pres. Participle   sculende   munende
Past Participle   scolen   munen
Gerund   sculenne   munenne
         
Present Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.   sceal   man, mon
2 Sg.   sculest   munest
3 Sg.   sceal   man, mon
Plural   sculon   munon
         
Present Subjunctive   1   2
Singular   scule   mune
Plural   sculen   munen
         
Preterite Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.   scolde   munde
2 Sg.   scoldest   mundest
3 Sg.   scolde   munde
Plural   scoldon   mundon
         
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2
Singular   scolde   munde
Plural   scolden   munden
20. Strong Verbs in Class V

This class is yet another with 4 subclasses. The nominal four-vowel ablaut pattern is -e-, --, --, -e-; however, once again, ancient sound changes not discussed here resulted in variations that we illustrate with 4 example conjugations.

The text in lesson 2 contains the verb sprecan 'speak, say'; the texts in lessons 1 & 3 contain ongietan 'grasp, understand', formed from the prefix on- plus the verb gietan 'get'; our text in this lesson contains the verbs licgan 'lie, extend, be situated' and son 'see, look'. We conjugate these four to illustrate the strong verbs in Class V; as usual, the 4th column exhibits the greatest variability.

Strong V   1   2   3   4
Infinitive   sprecan 'speak'   gietan 'get'   licgan 'lie'   son, seon 'see'
Inflected Infin.   t sprecanne   t gietanne   t licganne   t sonne, t sgon
Imperative Sg.   sprc   giet   lige   seoh
Imperative Pl.   spreca   gieta   licga   so
Pres. Participle   sprecende   gietende   licgende   sonde
Past Participle   sprecen   gieten (ongyten)   legen   sewen, sawen
Gerund   sprecenne   gietenne   licgenne   sonne
                 
Present Indicative   1   2   3   4
1 Sg.   sprece   giete (ongite)   licge   so
2 Sg.   sprecest   gietest (ongitst)   ligest, ligst   siehst
3 Sg.   sprce, spric   giete (ongit)   lige, li   sieh (gesyh)
Plural   spreca   gieta   licga   so
                 
Present Subjunctive   1   2   3   4
Singular   sprece   giete   licge   so
Plural   sprecen   gieten   licgen   son
                 
Preterite Indicative   1   2   3   4
1 Sg.   sprc   geat   lg   seah
2 Sg.   sprce   gate   lge   swe
3 Sg.   sprc, spc   geat   lg   seah
Plural   sprcon, sprcan   gaton   lgon   swon, sgon (geswon, gesgan)
                 
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2   3   4
Singular   sprce   gate   lge   swe
Plural   sprcen   gaten   lgen   swen

N.B. Not by any means are all of the many spelling variations, found in OE texts, listed above -- nor are they in general, in our conjugation tables.

A sampling of modern English verbs descended from other OE Strong V verbs found in our lesson texts includes bid, forgive, give, quoth ("the Raven..."), and wreak.