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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.

Hē sǣde ðæt Norðmanna land wǣre swȳþe lang and swȳðe smæl.

  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • sǣde -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <secgan, sægde, sægd> say -- said
  • ðæt -- subordinating conjunction <þæt> that -- that
  • Norðmanna -- proper noun, masculine; genitive plural of <Norð-mann> Norwegian, lit. north-man -- of the Norwegians
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; nominative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- the land
  • wǣre -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite subjunctive of <wesan> be, happen -- was
  • swȳþe -- adverb <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • lang -- adjective; nominative singular of <lang> long -- long
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • swȳðe -- adverb <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • smæl -- adjective; nominative singular of <smæl> small, narrow -- narrow

Eal þæt his man āþer oððe ettan oððe erian mæg, þæt līð wið ðā sǣ;

  • eal -- adjective; nominative singular of <eall> all -- all
  • þæt -- demonstrative used as relative pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <sē, sēo, ðæt> who, which, that -- that
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- a
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- man
  • āþer -- correlative conjunction <āhwæþer> either -- either
  • oððe -- correlative conjunction <oððe> or -- ...
  • ettan -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <ettan, ettede, etted> graze, pasture -- graze
  • oððe -- correlative conjunction <oððe> or -- or
  • erian -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <erian, erede, ered> plow -- plow
  • mæg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mæg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- can
  • þæt -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <sē, sēo, ðæt> that -- ...
  • līð -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular present of <licgan, læg, lǣgon, legen> lie, extend, be situated -- extends
  • wið -- preposition <wið> against, along -- alongside
  • ðā -- definite article; accusative singular feminine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <> sea, lake -- sea

and þæt is þēah on sumum stōwum swȳðe clūdig;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- but
  • þæt -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <sē, sēo, ðæt> that -- it
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- is
  • þēah -- adverb <þēah> yet, though, however -- however
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sumum -- adjective; dative plural of <sum> some, a certain -- certain
  • stōwum -- strong noun, feminine; dative plural of <stōw> place -- places
  • swȳðe -- adverb <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • clūdig -- adjective; nominative singular of <clūdig> rocky -- rocky

and licgað wilde mōras wið ēastan and wið uppon emnlange þǣm bȳnum lande.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • licgað -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person plural present of <licgan, læg, lǣgon, legen> lie, extend, be situated -- lie
  • wilde -- adjective; accusative plural of <wilde> wild, untamed -- wild
  • mōras -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <mōr> moor; mountainous region -- moors
  • wið ēastan -- adverb <wið ēastan> to the east -- to the east
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • wið uppon -- adverb <wið uppan> upwards, above -- above
  • emnlange -- preposition <emnlange> along -- beside
  • þǣm -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • bȳnum -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <bȳn> inhabited, occupied -- inhabited
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land

On þǣm mōrum eardiað Finnas.

  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • þǣm -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • mōrum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <mōr> moor; mountainous region -- moors
  • eardiað -- 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 þæt bȳne land is ēasteweard brādost, and symle swā norðor swā smælre.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • þæt -- definite article; nominative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • bȳne -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <bȳn> inhabited, occupied -- inhabited
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; nominative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- is
  • ēasteweard -- adverb <ēast-weard> eastward -- to the east
  • brādost -- adjective; superlative of <brād> broad, open -- broadest
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • symle -- adverb <simle> ever, always -- ever
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- ...
  • norðor -- adverb; comparative of <norð> north(wards) -- further north
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- ...
  • smælre -- adjective; comparative of <smæl> small, narrow -- narrower

Ēastewerd hit mæg bīon syxtig mīla brād, oþþe hwēne brādre;

  • ēastewerd -- adverb <ēast-weard> eastward -- to the east
  • hit -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- it
  • mæg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mæg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- may
  • bīon -- anomalous verb; infinitive of <bēon> be, become, exist -- be
  • syxtig -- numeral <siextig> sixty -- sixty
  • mīla -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <mīl> mile -- miles
  • brād -- adjective; nominative singular of <brād> broad, open -- wide
  • oþþe -- correlative conjunction <oððe> or -- or
  • hwēne -- adverb <hwōn> somewhat, a little -- somewhat
  • brādre -- adjective; comparative of <brād> broad, open -- more

and middeweard þrītig oððe brādre;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • middeweard -- adverb <midde-weard> mid-ward, middling -- towards the middle
  • þrītig -- numeral <þrītig> thirty -- thirty
  • oððe -- correlative conjunction <oððe> or -- or
  • brādre -- adjective; comparative of <brād> broad, open -- more

and norðeweard hē cwæð, þǣr hit smalost wǣre, þæt hit mihte bēon þrēora mīla brād tō þǣm mōre;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • norðeweard -- adverb <norð-weard> northward -- to the north
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • cwæð -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <cweðan, cwæð, cwǣdon, cweden> say, speak -- said
  • þǣr -- adverb <þǣr> there, where -- there
  • hit -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- it
  • smalost -- adjective; superlative of <smæl> small, narrow -- narrowest
  • wǣre -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite subjunctive of <wesan> be, happen -- was
  • þæt -- conjunction <þæt> so/in order that -- so that
  • hit -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- it
  • mihte -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite optative of <magan, mæg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might
  • bēon -- anomalous verb; infinitive of <bēon> be, become, exist -- be
  • þrēora -- numeral; genitive plural of <þrīe, þrēo, þrēo> three -- three
  • mīla -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <mīl> mile -- miles
  • brād -- adjective; nominative singular of <brād> broad, open -- wide
  • -- preposition <> (in)to -- towards
  • þǣm -- definite article; dative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • mōre -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <mōr> moor; mountainous region -- moor

and se mōr syðþan, on sumum stōwum, swā brād swā man mæg on twām wucum oferfēran;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • mōr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <mōr> moor; mountainous region -- moor
  • syðþan -- adverb <syððan> afterwards -- afterwards
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sumum -- adjective; dative plural of <sum> some, a certain -- some
  • stōwum -- strong noun, feminine; dative plural of <stōw> place -- places
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • brād -- adjective; nominative singular of <brād> broad, open -- wide
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • mæg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mæg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • twām -- numeral; feminine plural of <twēgen, twā, tū> twain, two -- two
  • wucum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <wucu> week -- weeks
  • oferfēran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <oferfēran, oferfērde, oferfēred> traverse -- cross

and on sumum stōwum swā brād swā man mæg on syx dagum oferfēran.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sumum -- adjective; dative plural of <sum> some, a certain -- some
  • stōwum -- strong noun, feminine; dative plural of <stōw> place -- places
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • brād -- adjective; nominative singular of <brād> broad, open -- wide
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • mæg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mæg, 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 <dæg> day -- days
  • oferfēran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <oferfēran, oferfērde, oferfēred> traverse -- cross

Ðonne is tōemnes þǣm lande sūðeweardum, on ōðre healfe þæs mōres, Swēoland, oþ þæt land norðeweard;

  • ðonne -- adverb <þonne> then, when -- then
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- is
  • tōemnes -- preposition <tōemnes> alongside -- alongside
  • þǣm -- demonstrative article; dative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> that -- that
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land # Norway
  • sūðeweardum -- adjective; dative singular of <sūðe-weard> southward -- on the south
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • ōðre -- adjective; dative singular feminine of <ōðer> other, next, second -- the other
  • healfe -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <healf> half, part, side -- side
  • þæs -- definite article; genitive singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- of the
  • mōres -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <mōr> moor; mountainous region -- moors
  • Swēoland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Swēo-land> Sweden -- Sweden
  • -- preposition <> until, up to, as far as -- as far as
  • þæt -- demonstrative article; accusative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> that -- that
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land # Norway
  • norðeweard -- adverb <norð-weard> northward -- to the north

and tōemnes þǣm lande norðeweardum, Cwēna land.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • tōemnes -- preposition <tōemnes> alongside -- alongside
  • þǣm -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- that
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land
  • norðeweardum -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <norð-weard> northward -- on the north
  • Cwēna -- proper noun, masculine plural; genitive of <Cwēnas> Cwenas, Cwena people -- of the Cwena people # a Finnish tribe
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; nominative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- the land

Þā Cwēnas hergiað hwīlum on ðā Norðmen ofer ðone mōr, hwīlum þā Norðmen on hȳ.

  • þā -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • Cwēnas -- proper noun, masculine plural; nominative of <Cwēnas> Cwenas, Cwena people -- Cwenas
  • hergiað -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person plural present of <hergian, hergode, gehergod> harry, raid, ravage -- conduct raids
  • hwīlum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <hwīl> while, time -- sometimes
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- against
  • ðā -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • Norðmen -- proper noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Norð-mann> Norwegian, lit. north-man -- Norwegians
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- across
  • ðone -- definite article; accusative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • mōr -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mōr> moor; mountainous region -- moor
  • hwīlum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <hwīl> while, time -- sometimes
  • þā -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • Norðmen -- proper noun, masculine; nominative plural of <Norð-mann> Norwegian, lit. north-man -- Norwegians
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- against
  • hȳ -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- them

And þǣr sint swīðe micle meras fersce geond þā mōras;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • þǣr -- adverb <þǣr> there, where -- there
  • sint -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural present indicative of <is> be, become, exist -- are
  • swīðe -- adverb <swīðe> 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
  • þā -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • mōras -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <mōr> moor; mountainous region -- moors

and berað þā Cwēnas hyra scypu ofer land on ðā meras, and þanon hergiað on þā Norðmen;

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • berað -- strong verb, class IV; 3rd person plural present of <beran, bær, bǣron, boren> bear, carry -- carry
  • þā -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • Cwēnas -- proper noun, masculine plural; nominative of <Cwēnas> Cwenas, Cwena people -- Cwenas
  • hyra -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive plural of <hē, hēo, 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
  • ðā -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • meras -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <mere> mere, lake, sea -- lakes
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þanon -- adverb <ðonan> thence, from there -- from there
  • hergiað -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person plural present of <hergian, hergode, gehergod> harry, raid, ravage -- raid
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- ...
  • þā -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • Norðmen -- proper noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Norð-mann> Norwegian, lit. north-man -- Norwegians

hȳ habbað swȳðe lȳtle scypa and swȳðe lēohte.

  • hȳ -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • habbað -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person plural present of <habban, hæfde, hæfd> have, possess -- have
  • swȳðe -- adverb <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • lȳtle -- adjective; accusative plural of <lȳtel> little, small -- small
  • scypa -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • swȳðe -- adverb <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- very
  • lēohte -- adjective; accusative plural of <lēoht> light, easy -- light

Ōhthere sǣde þæt sīo scīr hātte Hālgoland þe hē on būde.

  • Ōhthere -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ōhthere> Ohthere -- Ohthere
  • sǣde -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <secgan, sægde, sægd> say -- said
  • þæt -- subordinating conjunction <þæt> that -- that
  • sīo -- definite article; nominative singular feminine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • scīr -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <scīr> shire, district, division -- district
  • hātte -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular passive of <hātan, heht, hēton, hāten> call, name; order -- is called # relic of medio-passive
  • Hālgoland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Hālgo-land> Helgeland -- Helgeland
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- which
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • būde -- irregular verb; 3rd person singular preterite of <būan, būde, bȳne> dwell, live -- lived

Hē cwæð þæt nān man ne būde be norðan him.

  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • cwæð -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <cweðan, cwæð, cwǣdon, cweden> say, speak -- said
  • þæt -- subordinating conjunction <þæt> that -- that
  • nān -- contraction; adverb <ne> not + indefinite article <ān> a, an, one -- no
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- ... # double negative, for emphasis
  • būde -- irregular verb; 3rd person singular preterite of <būan, būde, bȳne> dwell, live -- lived
  • be norðan -- adverb <be norðan> north of -- north of
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- him

Þonne is ān port on sūðeweardum þǣm lande, þone man hǣt Scīringes hēal.

  • þonne -- adverb <þonne> then, when -- ...
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- (there) is
  • ān -- indefinite article; nominative singular of <ān> a, an, one -- a
  • port -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <port> port, harbor -- port
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sūðeweardum -- adjective; dative singular of <sūðe-weard> southward -- the south of
  • þǣm -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- that
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land # Norway
  • þone -- demonstrative used as relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <sē, sēo, ðæt> who, which, that -- which
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- one
  • hǣt -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular present of <hātan, heht, hēton, hāten> call, name; order -- calls
  • Scīringes hēal -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Scīringes-hēal> Skiringssal -- Skiringssal

Þyder hē cwæð þæt man ne mihte geseglian on ānum mōnðe, gyf man on niht wīcode, and ǣlce dæge hæfde ambyrne wind;

  • þyder -- adverb <þyder> thither -- there
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • cwæð -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <cweðan, cwæð, cwǣdon, cweden> say, speak -- said
  • þæt -- subordinating conjunction <þæt> 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, mæg, 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
  • ānum -- indefinite article; dative singular masculine of <ān> a, an, one -- a
  • mōnðe -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <mōnað> 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
  • wīcode -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular preterite of <wician, wīcode, wīcod> camp, lodge -- anchored # (near the shore)
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • ǣlce -- adjective; instrumental singular of <ǣlc> all, any -- each
  • dæge -- noun, masculine; instrumental singular of <dæg> day -- day
  • hæfde -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <habban, hæfde, hæfd> 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 ðā hwīle hē sceal seglian be lande.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • ealle -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <eall> all -- all
  • ðā -- definite article; accusative singular feminine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • hwīle -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <hwīl> while, time -- while
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, 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 þæt stēorbord him bið ǣrest Īraland, and þonne ðā īgland þe synd betux Īralande and þissum lande.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- to
  • þæt -- definite article; accusative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • stēorbord -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <stēor-bord> starboard, lit. stear(ing)-board -- starboard
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- of him # the traveler
  • bið -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- is
  • ǣrest -- adverb; superlative of <ǣr> ere, before, formerly -- first
  • Īraland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Īra-land> Ireland -- Ireland
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þonne -- adverb <þonne> then, when -- then
  • ðā -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • īgland -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <īglond> island -- islands # (Hebrides?)
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- which
  • synd -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural present indicative of <is> be, become, exist -- are
  • betux -- preposition <betux> between -- between
  • Īralande -- proper noun, neuter; dative singular of <Īra-land> Ireland -- Ireland
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þissum -- demonstrative article; dative singular neuter of <ðes, ðēos, ðis> this -- this
  • lande -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land # England

Þonne is þis land oð hē cymð tō Scīrincges hēale, and ealne weg on þæt bæcbord Norðweg.

  • þonne -- adverb <þonne> then, when -- then
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- continues
  • þis -- demonstrative article; nominative singular neuter of <ðes, ðēos, ðis> this -- this
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; nominative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land
  • -- adverbial conjunction <> until -- until
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- one
  • cymð -- strong verb, class IV; 3rd person singular present of <cuman, cwōm, cwōmon, cumen> come -- comes
  • -- preposition <> (in)to -- to
  • Scīrincges hēale -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Scīringes-hēal> 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
  • þæt -- definite article; accusative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • bæcbord -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <bæc-bord> larboard, port side -- port side
  • Norðweg -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Norðweg> Norway, lit. way leading north -- Norway

Wið sūðan þone Scīringes hēal fylð swȳðe mycel sǣ ūp in on ðæt lond;

  • wið sūðan -- adverb <wið sūðan> to the south -- to the south of
  • þone -- definite article; accusative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • Scīringes hēal -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Scīringes-hēal> Skiringssal -- Skiringssal
  • fylð -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular present of <feallan, fēoll, fēollon, feallen> fall, flow -- flows
  • swȳðe -- adverb <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- (a) very
  • mycel -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <micel> much, great -- large
  • -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <> sea, lake -- sea
  • ūp -- adverb <ūp> up, upwards -- up
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- to
  • ðæt -- demonstrative article; accusative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> that -- that
  • lond -- strong noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land

sēo is brādre þonne ǣnig man ofer sēon mæge.

  • sēo -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <sē, sēo, ðæt> he, she, it -- it
  • is -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- is
  • brādre -- adjective; comparative of <brād> broad, open -- wider
  • þonne -- adverb <þonne> then, when -- than
  • ǣnig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ǣnig> any -- any
  • man -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <monn> man, person -- man
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- across
  • sēon -- strong verb, class V; infinitive of <sēon, seah, sǣgon, segen> see, look -- see # or sēon, seah, sāwon/sǣwon, sewen
  • mæge -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present optative of <magan, mæg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- is able to

And is Gotland on ōðre healfe ongēan, and siððan Sillende.

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

Sēo sǣ līð mænig hund mīla ūp in on þæt land.

  • sēo -- definite article; nominative singular feminine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <> sea, lake -- sea
  • līð -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular present of <licgan, læg, lǣgon, legen> lie, extend, be situated -- extends
  • mænig -- adjective; nominative singular of <mænig> many -- many
  • hund -- numeral <hund> hundred -- hundred(s)
  • mīla -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <mīl> mile -- of miles
  • ūp -- adverb <ūp> up, upwards -- up
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- to
  • þæt -- demonstrative article; accusative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> that -- that
  • land -- strong noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land

Lesson Text

Hē sǣde ðæt Norðmanna land wǣre swȳþe lang and swȳðe smæl. Eal þæt his man āþer oððe ettan oððe erian mæg, þæt līð wið ðā sǣ; and þæt is þēah on sumum stōwum swȳðe clūdig; and licgað wilde mōras wið ēastan and wið uppon emnlange þǣm bȳnum lande. On þǣm mōrum eardiað Finnas. And þæt bȳne land is ēasteweard brādost, and symle swā norðor swā smælre. Ēastewerd hit mæg bīon syxtig mīla brād, oþþe hwēne brādre; and middeweard þrītig oððe brādre; and norðeweard hē cwæð, þǣr hit smalost wǣre, þæt hit mihte bēon þrēora mīla brād tō þǣm mōre; and se mōr syðþan, on sumum stōwum, swā brād swā man mæg on twām wucum oferfēran; and on sumum stōwum swā brād swā man mæg on syx dagum oferfēran.

Ðonne is tōemnes þǣm lande sūðeweardum, on ōðre healfe þæs mōres, Swēoland, oþ þæt land norðeweard; and tōemnes þǣm lande norðeweardum, Cwēna land. Þā Cwēnas hergiað hwīlum on ðā Norðmen ofer ðone mōr, hwīlum þā Norðmen on hȳ. And þǣr sint swīðe micle meras fersce geond þā mōras; and berað þā Cwēnas hyra scypu ofer land on ðā meras, and þanon hergiað on þā Norðmen; hȳ habbað swȳðe lȳtle scypa and swȳðe lēohte.

Ōhthere sǣde þæt sīo scīr hātte Hālgoland þe hē on būde. Hē cwæð þæt nān man ne būde be norðan him. Þonne is ān port on sūðeweardum þǣm lande, þone man hǣt Scīringes hēal. Þyder hē cwæð þæt man ne mihte geseglian on ānum mōnðe, gyf man on niht wīcode, and ǣlce dæge hæfde ambyrne wind; and ealle ðā hwīle hē sceal seglian be lande. And on þæt stēorbord him bið ǣrest Īraland, and þonne ðā īgland þe synd betux Īralande and þissum lande. Þonne is þis land oð hē cymð tō Scīrincges hēale, and ealne weg on þæt bæcbord Norðweg. Wið sūðan þone Scīringes hēal fylð swȳðe mycel sǣ ūp in on ðæt lond; sēo is brādre þonne ǣnig man ofer sēon mæge. And is Gotland on ōðre healfe ongēan, and siððan Sillende. Sēo sǣ līð mænig hund mīla ūp in on þæt 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 bēon

Old English bēon '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.

bēon 'be'   Present Indicative   Present Subjunctive   Imperative
1 Sg.   bēo   bēo    
2 Sg.   bist   bēo   bēo
3 Sg.   biþ   bēo    
Pl.   bēoþ   bēon   bēoþ

There are neither preterite forms nor participles. There is a so-called "inflected infinitive" form, tō bēonne '(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:

ēom 'am'   Present Indicative   Present Subjunctive
1 Sg.   ēom   sīe
2 Sg.   eart  
3 Sg.   is   sēo
Pl.   sind(on)   sī(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 sīe for both the 2nd/3rd singular, and the e in the plural may be present or absent.

Negative contractions include nēom, 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-, -æ-, -ǣ-, -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.   tō beranne   tō scieranne   tō nimanne   tō cumanne
Imperative Sg.   ber   scier   nim    
Imperative Pl.   berað   scierað   nimað   cumað
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.   birð, bireð   sciereð   nimeð   cumeð, cymeð
Plural   berað   scierað   nimað   cumað
                 
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.   bær   scear   nam   cōm, cwōm
2 Sg.   bǣre   scēare   nāme   cōme
3 Sg.   bær   scear   nam   cōm, cwōm
Plural   bǣron   scēaron   nāmon   cōmon, cwōmon
                 
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2   3   4
Singular   bǣre   scēare   nāme   cōme, cwōme
Plural   bǣren   scēaren   nāmen   cōmen

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.   tō sculanne   tō munanne
Imperative Sg.   scul   mun
Imperative Pl.   sculað   munað
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-, -æ-, -ǣ-, -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 sēon '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'   sēon, seon 'see'
Inflected Infin.   tō sprecanne   tō gietanne   tō licganne   tō sēonne, tō sǣgon
Imperative Sg.   spræc   giet   lige   seoh
Imperative Pl.   sprecað   gietað   licgað   sēoð
Pres. Participle   sprecende   gietende   licgende   sēonde
Past Participle   sprecen   gieten (ongyten)   legen   sewen, sawen
Gerund   sprecenne   gietenne   licgenne   sēonne
                 
Present Indicative   1   2   3   4
1 Sg.   sprece   giete (ongite)   licge   sēo
2 Sg.   sprecest   gietest (ongitst)   ligest, ligst   siehst
3 Sg.   sprceð, spricð   gieteð (ongit)   ligeð, lið   siehð (gesyhð)
Plural   sprecað   gietað   licgað   sēoð
                 
Present Subjunctive   1   2   3   4
Singular   sprece   giete   licge   sēo
Plural   sprecen   gieten   licgen   sēon
                 
Preterite Indicative   1   2   3   4
1 Sg.   spræc   geat   læg   seah
2 Sg.   sprǣce   gēate   lǣge   sāwe
3 Sg.   spræc, spæc   geat   læg   seah
Plural   sprǣcon, sprǣcan   gēaton   lǣgon   sāwon, sǣgon (gesāwon, gesēgan)
                 
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2   3   4
Singular   sprǣce   gēate   lǣge   sāwe
Plural   sprǣcen   gēaten   lǣgen   sāwen

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.