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 OLD ENGLISH

Old English is the name given to the vernacular of England from the settlement by Angles, Saxons and Jutes till about 1150, around which date begins the next linguistic stage, Middle English. It is a Western Germanic language, with Old Frisian and Old Saxon as nearest idioms. It had four great dialects: Northumbrian (North), Mercian (Midlands), Kentish (Kent)  and West-Saxon (South and South-West). West-Saxon is the best attested, for it was the dialect of the kings of Wessex, that progressively gained political leadership and later became kings of England (Modern English however derives from the speech of London, a mixed dialect but based on a Mercian ground). Old English was Tolkien's speciality; in this language he transcribed - in fiction - the speech of the Rohirrim in the literary device of pseudo-translation adopted in The Lord of the Rings. Other Old English fragments can be found here and there in his literary work.

Fæder úre - Pater noster, a Late West-Saxon version (around the 10th century).

Éomer's greeting - The Lord of the Rings, book III, chapter 6.

Éowyn's toast - The Lord of the Rings, book III, chapter 6.

Summons of the Rohirrim - The Treason of Isengard, pp. 442, 443, 449.

Monað módes lust - Verse composed by J. R. R. Tolkien after the Old English poem The Seafarer. The Lost Road, p. 84.

Monath modaes lust - A slightly different version of the former, in an archaic form of Old English, from The Notion Club Papers. Sauron Defeated, p. 243.

The straight road (Old English) - A phrase given in the Notion Club Papers. Sauron Defeated, p. 243. A corresponding version in Qenya can also be found on this website.

Þus cwæð Ælfwine Wídlást - Verse given in The Notion Club Papers, composed by J. R. R. Tolkien. Sauron Defeated, p. 244.

The fall of Númenor - West-saxon - Texts from The Notion Club Papers pp. 313-314 and 316.

The fall of Númenor - Mercian - A text closely related to the preceding one but shorter and in another dialect, from The Notion Club Papers pp. 257-258.

Seo Niþerhrorene - Fragments of a lament on the downfall of Númenor. Sauron Defeated, p. 317. Corresponding versions in Qenya and Adûnaic can also be found on this website.

Éadig béo þu - Good luck to you, a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien, from the collection Songs for the Philologists. Published in The Road to Middle-earth by T. A. Shippey.

Ides ælfscýne - Elf-fair lady, a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien, from the collection Songs for the Philologists. Published in The Road to Middle-earth by T. A. Shippey.

Ofer wídne gársecg- Across the broad ocean, a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien, from the collection Songs for the Philologists. Published in The Road to Middle-earth by T. A. Shippey.

Crist of Cynewulf (lines 104 to 108). These lines inspired Frodo's invocation to Eärendil at Cirith Ungol A corresponding version in Quenya can also be found on this website.

Riddle n° 85 of the Exeter Book - a thought for Sméagol...

The Wanderer (lines 85 to 110) - an important elegy preserved in the Exeter Book.

Béowulf (lines 210 to 228) - a short fragment of the great Anglo-Saxon heroic poem.



Quotations of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, Édouard Kloczko, Christopher Gilson, Patrick Wynne, Rhona Beare, Thomas Alan Shippey, Charles Kennedy, Elaine Treharne, André Crépin, Régis Boyer, François-Xavier Dillmann, Gabriel Rebourcet, Keith Bosley, Pierre-Yves Lambert, Gwyn Jones, Thomas Jones are under the copyright of their publishers.


Last update of the site : 2006, August 9th.
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