Old English/Phrases

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Note that italics are used in Old English words to indicate that a word is a new word, not attested in historical Old English. Some expressions have several forms, separated by a semicolon (;). If an expression has two forms, the second one is said to several people rather than just one.

Greetings and introduction[edit | edit source]

The Old English greeting "Ƿes hāl"
Ƿes hāl! - Ƿesað hāle (possibly Anglian);: Bēo ġesund - Bēoð ġesunde (West Saxon)
How are you doing?
Hū meaht þū? - Hū magon ġē?;: Hū eart þū? - Hū sindon ġē?
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 ______.
This (a man / a woman) is...
Þes/Þēos is...
I'll introduce him/her to you
Iċ tǣċe hine/hīe þē
Goodbye (said by departing person)
Often the same as the above translations of "Hello!".
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 - Habbað gōdne morgen
Good day
Hafa gōdne dæg - Habbað gōdne morgen
Good evening
Hafa gōdne ǣfen - Habbað gōdne ǣfen
Good night
Hafa gōde nihte - Habbað gōde nihte

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 - Iċ bidde ēoƿ
Thank you
Iċ þanciġe þē - Iċ þanciġe ēoƿ
I'm sorry
Mē ofþyncþ; Belāda mē - Belādiað mē

Communication[edit | edit source]

Do you speak Old English?
Spricst þū Englisċ? - Sprecaþ ġē 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)?
Say it in Modern English
Sæġe þæt on Nīƿenglisċ - Seċġaþ þæt on Nīƿenglisċ
Say it again
Sæġe þæt eft - Seċġaþ þæt eft
Speak more slowly
Sprec þu slāƿor - Sprecaþ ġe slāƿor
I don't know that word
Iċ nāt þæt ƿord
Please, explain to me...
Iċ bidde þē, āreċe mē...
What did he/she say?
Hƿæt sǣde hē/hēo?

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/ġe 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)