Soul Memory Mind Language
2010 AD

Tatyana Solomonik-Pankrashova

The Lund, Stockholm, and Oxford credentials of Junichi Toyota, Marina Shchepetunina, and Pernilla Hallonsten, editors of Sense of Emptiness, 2012, had been highly attractive to me, being very appreciably more respectable than any institutions further west. However "emptiness plays a key role in identifying socio-cultural diversity", caused me unease. What is "cognitive linguistics" ? What is "diachronic change" ? What is "kaleidoscopic grammar" ? What is "typology" ? I feel I really ought to know what typology is, without looking it up.

In Sense of Emptiness there was an essay by Tatanya Solomonik-Pankrashova which touched on The Seafarer. I discovered that this had been preceded by her paper, mentioned above, largely about the concept of the soul in Anglo-Saxon and other languages and cultures, part of Memory, Mind and Language, Chapter Six, edited by Hans Götzsche, 2010. Here is her introduction to that paper. I feel humbled by my unfamiliarity with the recondite terminology extensively employed. My cousin, a distinguished Professor of Finance in the US of A, writes like this; is it in the American vein ?

Somehow I feel that lexical variation, with distinct concepts embedded in one word, was rather thoroughly and lucidly covered by William Empson in Seven Types of Ambiguity, 1930. My favourite book. Conversely, and in contrast, I struggle with the text above. I grow old. Why am I tickled ? Perhaps because I'm again reminded of T.H.Huxley's 1931 assertion: "I have been obliged to content myself through life with saying what I mean in the plainest of plain language, than which, I suppose, there is no habit more ruinous to a man's prospects of advancement." I can't quite get my head round this "The prototype model of concept structure views them --- [which them is that ?] --- structured so that (in the prototype model of concept structure) there are central or typical members of a category and less typical or peripheral members." Glad to know that's been made completely clear to those that aren't still baffled.


Parenthetically, I can't help noting that Gummere's 1923 weirdly winsome refraction of Beowulf, selectively quoted here, at left, by Tatanya, is not totally bad. It's more that it's exceptionally peculiar. It might be called a scrutiny to one's intellectual alacrity, to coin a phrase. Gummere must have been dazzled, or infected, by Pound's Seafarer.

Ring-dight ? Atheling ? Breaker-of-rings ? Winsome darling ? Wielded words ? Hoist, take, gave, were ? OK, let take.

Back to our muttons. Let's get to the nub, the matter of "soul". Here is Tatyana's collection of Anglo-Saxon (love it !) words which she associates with SOUL.

A fact which will not appeal to the monoglots of the western world is that comparison of Anglo-Saxon, or Anglish, words with their equivalents in Modern Swedish is a fine, even the finest, guide to their meanings. Tatyana's soul-words merit tackling, one by one:

sawol. English "soul", as well as Swedish "själ". The j and ä are visually off-putting to English speakers, but make a better approximation to the original Anglish pronunciation. I surmise.
gast. If a ghost can be accepted as a spirit. then "spirit" is acceptable, I guess. "Gast" in Swedish shades into apparition or phantom. It doesn't mean "soul" by a long chalk.
mod. In my view modsefa means state of mind, not "soul". "Mood" is good enough, although in Swedish mod means "courage", ie spirit, in one sense.
feorh. This is definitely a tricky one. Notice needed of this one. ?
sefa. This word is handled here and here. At some substantial length.
hige. Identical with Swedish håg. See here. Really nothing to do with soul.
heorte. Swedish hjärta, formerly hjerta. Just means heart, not soul. Not at all the same thing.

Finally, I'll now just dump the following, admittedly soul-irrelevant, TLS letter, Nov 24, here:


After spending a certain amount of time in futile search for a copy of the TLS dated October 8, I eventually found Carolyne Larrington's article in the TLS dated October 20.

What I really appreciated, however, was the above snippet in Davidson's letter. Narrows down the true geographic origin of the Angles who settled East Anglia, before the Romans left, and eventually gave their name and language to England, and the world.

Heja Sverige !

Recent makers of Anglo-Saxon dictionaries, especially The [ ! ! ! ! ] Old English Dictionary, strongly resemble people setting out to fill in crossword puzzles without reading the clues. It can be done, but makes very little sense.

essays and papers
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© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2015, 2017
all rights reserved

My fellow man I do not care for
I often ask me what he's there for
The only answer I can find
Is reproduction of his kind
Ogden Nash