The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

An old technique reborn

It appears that people are picking up on Old English poetic vibes without knowing it. Leto and Cracker both want to start posts with ‘So’. Whether they know it or not, this is a possible translation of the Old English word hwæt. Seamus Heaney used it in his translation of Beowulf, saying:

Conventional renderings of hwæt, the first word of the poem, tend towards the archaic literary, with ‘lo’, ‘hark’, ‘behold’, ‘attend’ and — more colloquially — ‘listen’ being some of the solutions offered previously. But in Hiberno-English Scullion-speak, the particle ‘so’ came naturally to the rescue, because in that idiom ‘so’ operates as an expression that obliterates all previous discourse and narrative, and at the same time functions as an exclamation calling for immediate attention.

Also, as pointed out in Eight Old English poems, hwæt is metrically unstressed (usually), and so emphatic (and archaic) glosses like ‘Lo!’ and ‘Hark!’ seem misapplied.

So there you go.

Posted by jamie on November 15, 2003 10:54+13:00


Word up!

Posted by: stephen on November 16, 2003 08:57+13:00

I think, when finally get around to commenting on all the people I link to in my links page, that I shall refer to you Jamie as a polymath.

Posted by: Alan on November 19, 2003 08:25+13:00

Polymath? Bah, it’s all Greek to me.

Posted by: Jamie on November 19, 2003 18:33+13:00

I rest my case.

Posted by: Alan on November 19, 2003 21:56+13:00