This is Something Else

More or less as has already been said before, in actual fact.

"Much of the literature of translation is not about errors in translation; it is about errors in understanding the original."
E.Bruce Brooks.

See R.I.Page & the DOE

Let us hope that, one day, this will happen: the beanery diners get dished, and the house of cards collapses.

The language spoken by the Angles, Jutes and Saxons has been given many names, but probably the most useful one would be "Old Scandinavian", a widely comprehensible lingo, perhaps traceable to Hedeby, and stretching up north to Uppsala in Sweden, and west across to and along the shores of modern Frisia. In the course of the three to five hundred years following 400 AD, or possibly much earlier, this tongue slowly evolved, in Britain, into Anglo-Saxon, with small regional differences, and began to be written down, having absorbed several other immigrant influences: Latin, and probably Hebrew and Aramaic.

Good on you, Reverend; at least you were on the right track in 1868. And in 1838.

Extract above from The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, 1979.

There can't be great doubt that a "holm" is a little hill, a hillock, perhaps located in the vicinity of water: eg Stockholm, Ängelholm. It is remotely conceivable that it may occasionally designate little bumps on the surface of the sea, billows, or even waves; but the greater likelihood is that it refers to the skerries typical of much of the coast of Scandinavia, especially Sweden, such as Väderöarna, home of the Weder-Geats. The etymology for "skerry" given in the ODEE is ludicrous, and mis-copies the correcter etymology given by Skeat.

Skeat, however, goes wildly astray --- surely ? --- in his etymological derivation of "sound", top right. How can this word possibly relate to a "weak grade of swimman" ?

On the other hand his understanding of the meaning and origin of "sunder" is unexceptionable. How could the connection between "sound", referring to a strait, and "sunder", referring to separation, fail to have been made ?

From Skeat's concise etymology, 1972.

Hellquist, above right, initially hits the bullseye, with mellanrum, from Icelandic, which translates precisely as "interval". He then seems to fall for Skeat's "swimman", and meanders a little off-piste, muttering about "a place which can be swum across". But perhaps that's where the confusion starts.

Zoëga, long column lower right, clearly holds the key. A sund is a place where some geological deity has put asunder, or forcibly parted, two land-masses; and the obvious ones are Sweden and Denmark, which still today are separated by The Sound, or sundet. Inexplicably, he sometimes substitutes "swimming" in compounds where "channel", "strait" or "sound", implying a body of water, would do equally well.

Anglo-Saxon studies, in the sense of getting closer to the truth of Anglo-Saxon life, literature and thought, are unlikely to advance as long as this discipline is dominated by Anglo-American academe, and as long as the deep-rooted Scandinavian and Friesian origins of Anglo-Saxon England continue to be side-lined. While the language continues to be called "Old English" there is no hope of any change for the better. In top-heavy bureaucracies it is immaterial what is said --- all that matters is who says it. Those with the sway to say what's what are not those whose prime concern is for truth, but those with the sharpest elbows, the biggest mouths, and the most ferocious dedication to self-promotion.

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"Brief and powerless is man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark."
Bertrand Russell
Thanks, Bertie. I really like that.

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From Skeat's concise etymology, 1901.

From Hellquist, 1922.

Geir T. Zoëga, A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic, 1910/1975.


© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2018
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