Old English/Phrases

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Note that italics are used on Old English words to indicate that a word is a new word, not attested in historical Old English.

Greetings and introduction[edit | edit source]

The Old English greeting "Ƿes hāl"
Ƿes hāl! (to one person, possibly Anglian dialect); Ƿesað hāle (to multiple, possibly Anglian); Bēo ġesund (to one person, West Saxon dialect); Bēoð ġesunde (to multiple people, West Saxon)
How are you doing?
Hū meaht þū? (to one person); Hū eart þū? (to one person); Hū magon ġē? (to multiple) Hū sindon ġē? (to multiple)
I'm well.
Iċ mæg ƿel; Iċ eom hāl; Iċ eom ġesund
What is your name?
Hū hāttest þū?; Hƿǣt hāttest þū?
My name is ______.
Iċ hātte ______.; Mīn nama is ______.
Þes is... ; This (a man) is...
Þēos is... ; This (a woman) is...
Iċ tǣċe hine/hīe þē ; I'll introduce him/her to you
Goodbye (said by departing person)
Bēo ġesund (to one person; West Saxon dialect); Bēoð ġesunde (to multiple; West Saxon); Ƿēs hāl (to one person; possibly Anglian dialect); Ƿesað hāle (to multiple; possibly Anglian)
Goodbye (said by the person remaining); Far ġesund (to one person); Farað ġesunde (to multiple)

Note that greeting by time of day, e.g. "good morning", are not idiomatic or normal in Old English. There is no need to use them - use the equivalent of "hello" instead. If, for whatever reason, you insist on using them anyway, you may use the following:

Good morning
Hafa gōdne morgen (to one person); Habbað gōdne morgen (to multiple)
Good day
Hafa gōdne dæg (to one person); Habbað gōdne morgen (to multiple)
Good evening
Hafa gōdne ǣfen (singular); Habbað gōdne ǣfen (plural)
Good night
Hafa gōde nihte (singular); Habbað gōde nihte (plural)

Such a greeting is recording in very early Middle English, but not Old English. If you include the "hafa/habbað", then the greeting is at least sensical and grammatical if not idiomatic; but if the "hafa/habbað" is omitted, it is a slavish imitation of Modern German.

Etiquette[edit | edit source]

Note that it is likely that Old English speakers had somewhat different etiquette sensibilities than MnE speakers.

Iċ bidde þē
Thank you
Iċ þanciġe þē (singular); Iċ þanciġe ēoƿ (plural)
I'm sorry
Mē ofþyncþ; Belāda mē (to one person); Belādiað mē (to multiple)

Communication[edit | edit source]

Do you speak Old English?
Spricst þū Englisċ?
I don't speak Old English
Iċ ne sprece Englisċ
Does anyone here speak Old English?
Spricþ hēr ǣniġ mann Englisċ?
I don't understand
Iċ ne understande
What does ... mean?
Hƿæt mǣnð ...?
How do I say... (in Old English)?
Hū seċġe iċ... (on Englisċ)?
Seġe þæt on Nīƿenglisċ
Say it in Modern English
Seġe þæt eft
Say it again
Sprec þu slāƿor
Speak more slowly
Iċ nāt þæt ƿord
I don't know that word
Iċ bidde þē, āreċe mē...
Please, explain to me...
Hƿæt sǣde hē/hēo?
What did he/she say?

Food and drink[edit | edit source]

I'm hungry
Mē hyngreð
I'm thirsty
Mē þyrst
What's there to eat?
Hƿæt is tō etenne?
What's there to drink?
Hƿæt is tō drincenne?
There's still some bread/wine/water/milk
Hlāfes/ƿīnes/ƿæteres/meolċe/æpp ġīt belīft
Would you like an apple/beer/bread/water/milk/beer/wine?
Ƿilt þū æppel/bēores/hlāfes/ƿæteres/meolċe/ƿīnes?

Religion[edit | edit source]

I believe in God
Iċ ġelīfe on gode
I am Christian
Iċ eom crīsten (a man)/Iċ eom crīstnu (a woman)
I am Germanic pagan
Iċ eom (germanisċ) hǣðen (of a man)/Iċ eom (germanisċ) hǣðnu (of a woman)
I am not a monotheist
Iċ eom hǣðen/Iċ ne ġelīfe on ānum gode.

Note: "hǣðen" in OE had adopted quite medieval Christian sensibilities of use, and could probably be used for everyone who was not a monotheist, including atheists, polytheists, and so forth. However, perhaps, Germanic pagans were the most obvious examples of "pagans" in the medieval Germanic Christian mindselt.

I am Muslim
Iċ eom muslim
I am Buddhist
Iċ eom budden (of a man)/Iċ eom buddnu (of a woman)
I am Hindu
Iċ eom indisċ hǣðen (of a man)/Iċ eom indisċ hǣðnu (of a woman)

Note: While "indisċ hǣðen" would likely be very easy for a native Old English speaker to understand, Hindus may prefer a new word like "hinden (man)/hindnu (woman)" to the historically Christianified sense of "hǣðen"

I am Jewish
Iċ eom iudēisċ
I don't believe in gods
Iċ ne ġelīfe on godum
I am godless
Iċ eom godlēas
I don't know whether a god exists (or not)
Iċ nāt hƿæðer god sī (þe nā)
I believe in spirits
Iċ ġelīfe on gāstum
I believe in something
Iċ ġelīfe on hƿǣm
I believe in an afterlife
Iċ ġelīfe on æfterlīfe/Iċ ġelīfe on līfe æfter dēaðe
I believe in human virtue
Iċ ġelīfe on manncystum
I am secularist
Iċ ne ġeþafie þæt ġelēafan habben ġeƿeald (literally, "I don't support faiths having (political) power")
I don't observe religion
Iċ ne begange nānne ġelēafan
I'm New Age
Iċ eom nīƿyldisċ hǣðen (of a man)/Iċ eom nīƿyldisċ hǣðnu (of a woman)