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anfloga, eft, holma, hreer, hwete, hyge, mg, onwl weg, sceata, sorge, unwearnum, wongas

every word misunderstood


The Bird of Death is also the Bird of Time

cf Omar Khayyam; which reminds me:
Mickey Mouse to Peg-leg Pete: "Time you gave up booze." Peg-leg: "Too late for that."
Mickey: "It's never too late." Peg-leg: "Then what's the hurry ?"

iona and culdees.html

Anfloga as the Bird of Time
timor mortis conturbat me

The Bird of Time has but a little Way/To fly ---and Lo ! the Bird is on the Wing. And at my back I always hear/Time's winged Chariot, hurrying near. The more one roots around, the more outrageously astonishing it becomes to realize that Ida Gordon thought the anfloga was the cuckoo. Or that anyone should think it was the returning mind, "eager and greedy". It's the Bird of Time that preys on Man. Timor mortis conturbat me.

I was once a member of a forum devoted to Anglo-Saxon topics. On this forum, 12/10/2009, a member asserted that "Translating OE into modern Swedish is close to useless (unless you are Swedish). It sheds very little light on Old English." Suppressing a strong inclination to laugh at this opinion, it is abundantly clear that the exact opposite is true. An intimate familiarity with modern Swedish offers immediate improved access to what ought to be known as the Anglo-Saxon, or preferably, the Anglish language.

This language was spoken by the first settlers in East Anglia, as well as by the occupants of what is now known as southern Sweden. Over time, Anglish, following the Norman Conquest, gradually turned into a different language, called English, from the works of Chaucer onwards. In Sweden, Anglish turned into modern Swedish, but the changes were nothing like as marked as the changes that turned Anglish into English. Therefore, modern Swedish remains a far better guide to Anglish than does modern English. Very few modern English speakers know enough Swedish to be aware of this simple fact. They might have been alerted to this on noting that O.S.Andersson/Arngart had delivered by far the best interpretation of The Seafarer in 1937. But even he was still under the jingoistic and anti-Germanic cosh of Henry Sweet.


These excerpts, from modern Swedish-English and German-English dictionaries, attest that the evidence for anfloga to mean "approaching/attacking flier" is overwhelming.
The force of the prefix "an" is equally unmistakable. Its reading as "one" is little short of ludicrous..


The Anglish word eft survives as "efter" in modern Swedish, and, thanks to Spenser and Coleridge, as "eftsoons" in modern English. Recourse to Clark Hall, 1894, (eftsona) gives, by somewhat contorted reasoning, a meaning for "eftsoons" of "a second time, again". Hence igen creeps into the Swedish translation.. But eft, by itself, can only mean "after, later or then". "Anon" is ideal.


There is no way holma could possibly mean "sea". Ofer holma means "beyond the skerries". Ofer = beyond.


Thorpe's mistranscription is astounding; but we must not forget that we owe him a debt, for his work as the first pioneer. The ODEE simply gives up on "wraith", and shrugs it off as Scottish. We therefore turn to Stora Engelska Ordboken, and suggest that hreer spawned "wraith". The word seems, by metathesis, to be cognate with Old Swedish varer. Needs, with hyge, a new page.


words to come


Strmbck's devotion to folklore (Den osynliga nrvaron, 1989, chapter 1, 1978) does not persuade me that the hyge in The Seafarer is a spirit, flitting widely afield and returning. Better glosses are "no desire for the harp" and "my mind is cast". hyge = hg. It needs another webpage. I fear I'm going round in circles.


The one place where Ezra Pound, by luck not judgement, got his refraction right was in its first two words; "May I".

Mg has lost its final "g" in the Swedish cognate m, which does not, however, mean "can", so popular in versions of The Seafarer. "Can" and "be able" creep in at left. Adieu mein Kleiner, mge das Glck mit dir sein! "Can" would be unacceptable here. See webpage.

onwl weg

The monoglot Anglo numbskull looks at wl, dumbly thinks "whale", and therefore adds an "h", even though the ms text is clear as daylight. Wl quite simply means "death". Translating valplats as battlefield is therefore a little inaccurate. A closer gloss would be "place of execution". Valkyrie, Valhalla imply death, not choice.


The dying man quite obviously returns to the "lap of nature", not to the "surfaces" of the spreading countryside. The monoglot Anglo numbskull thinks that sceat sounds like "sheet", and glosses accordingly, having applied the same method to wl.


There is a tendency to translate unwearn as "unaware", hence "suddenly". The truer meaning is "unguarded", or "defenceless". Perhaps the distinction is a little nice.


There is no way that wongas could possibly mean plains. The wong is a pleasant meadow, the Elysium of the pre-Christian post-life; not the hell of the avaricious plutocrat, but the soft, luminous hell of the enlightened pagan.


Stora Engelska Ordboken; Esselte Studium, 1989
Cassell's German Dictionary, 1940
The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, 1979
Hellquist, Etymologisk Ordbok, 1922


There are at least one hundred and fifty place-names in Sweden, compiled by David Burns, incorporating the element Angel-, Engel- or Ingol-, as the first two syllables in the complete name. See here. And see here. How many are there, I wonder, in Denmark? Perhaps a seasoned onomastician could let me know ?

At left is a map, modified from the one on Wikipedia Commons, suggesting the true locations of the peoples who came to settle England's East Anglia. Geats are also obviously the same as Jutes. It's just that when Swedes refer to their domestic Goths (Gtar), they pronounce the name with a soft G, so that it comes out, roughly, as Yertar, hence (in time) Jutes, with the J sounding like a Y.

Repeated quote: "Sweet ..... felt under particular pressure from German scholars in English studies who ..... 'annexed' the historical study of English. ..... He felt that 'no English dilettante can hope to compete with them -- except by Germanizing himself and losing all his nationality.' " Wikipedia. Sweet never seems to have realized that most of the Anglo-Saxons had arrived from what is today Skne, once Scedenig, in modern Sweden, not Germany.

1999: Swedish Sprachgefhl for Anglo-Saxon
2013: More Sprachgefhl for Anglo-Saxon
Toronto's Plan

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