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An Old English Lexicon Dedicated to Toni Healey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2020

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Summary

Preamble: ‘The Ābēcē of the DOE’

A (1538)

A is for ān, that’s, like, both an and one,

And also ābēcēdē, mainly in Byrhtferth!

Adl's an ailment, but afol is strength,

Hey, if a had been easy, then a’d have come first!

It's also an affix, annoying to edit,

As in ādrincan, so let's drink to that.

Æ (628)

Æ was a cakewalk, easy to edit,

It's one single letter that stands for THE LAW,

Æl is an awl, but ǣl is an eel,

Ǣlc is each one of us here this good æfen.

And ælf isn't ALF, like the alien, but elf.

And Æscleah, ur-editor, endlessly missed.

B (2268)

B was a bastard to bring to the book.

There's bær as in bare, and bǣr as in bore,

And bār is a boar, but bera's a bear.

And bēo's a bee, but ic bēo's I be!

There's bǣdling, a bum-boy (that's blurry and bitchy),

But beor is beer, so booze up and bealcettaþ!

C (1409)

C's where I came in, a killer for sure,

‘Cause camp is a field, but gecamp is a fight!

There's cunnan, and cunnian, cūþa and cynn,

There's queens, cows, and cucumbers, chickens, and churns,

But we said ‘yes I can,’ and we could, and we did.

Let's finish with clǣnsung-drenc, purgative drink.

D (922)

D was the first in the fascicle set,

McDougalls did that one (well, Dave, with some help).

Their button said dæg, and that's day, for some dollars.

They delved, dipped, and drove on, and did daring deeds,

And, dāl's not like, dal, but the deal that went down.

And drinc, dranc, and druncen are obvious drink!

E (1486)

E wasn't easy, it quickly got eald.

Sure, ēadig's happy, and eall says it all,

But ealdre is older, while ealdor's the boss,

And ēa's a river, but eage's eye.

It makes you say ēalā, earfoþ (that's woe),

But luckily ealu's ale, so let's go.

Type
Chapter
Information
Old English Lexicology and Lexicography
Essays in Honor of Antonette diPaolo Healey
, pp. 260 - 275
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

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