Adjective Exercise

            Now that we have become familiar with the verbs in the passage we will seek to learn more about the adjectives. In the entire nine lines of the riddle there are only two adjectives, not including of course the participial form of the verb fērende, which we said is utilized as an adjective in the last sentence. A helpful way to determine which adjectives are of weak declension and which are of strong, is to remember that the weak form always needs the support of a possessive or demonstrative pronoun, whereas a strong adjective can stand on its own. [12] The adjectives of the puzzle are emphasized for you in pink.

  Riddle 8  
  Hrgl mīn swīgađ     onne ic hrūsan trede
  oe ā wīc būge      oe wado drēfe.
  Hwilum mec āhebbađ        ofer hlea byht
  hyrste mīne      ond ēos hēa lyft,
(5) ond mec onne wīde wolcna strengu
  ofer folc byređ.     Frtwe mīne
  swōgađ hlūde    ond swinsiađ,
  torhte singađ,      onne ic getenge ne bēom
  flōde ond foldan,      fērende gst.

            As we can see in line four the adjective hēa is present. From looking this word up in an Old English glossary it is evident that it means high in Modern English. When we compare it to the adjective paradigms we see that it has a weak declension and is a feminine word in its nominative singular form. Adjectives that end in -h such as hēah or fāh are an exception to most of the rules and usually lose the last letter h.[13] Being nominative this word describes the subject of the verb; hēa means high.'

            In the second to last line of the riddle the adjective getenge is used. This word means near to, touching or resting on and is in its nominative singular masculine form. As you can see it has a ge prefix and by looking at the glossary we can tell it has a dative object. It is useful to note that usually when the ge prefix is used the word has a sense of togetherness and unity. [14] Adjectives that use this prefix are special in that they do not change in any way typical of the paradigms. [15]

            Now that we have explored all of the adjectives we will determine which words are adverbs. As you can see, we have almost all of the grammatical information needed in order to piece together the meaning of the passage.


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[12] Mitchell and Robinson, 31.

[13] Mitchell and Robinson, 33.

[14] Mitchell and Robinson, 58.

[15] See Mitchell and Robinson 30-33 for further details.