Exercise in Identification

            Now that you are more familiar with some Old English numbers we can begin deciphering the next riddle. For this exercise identify as much of the grammar as possible. Perhaps you immediately recognize the pronouns or certain endings. Record whatever you notice, however big or small, in the text boxes below. Start this exercise by reading the passage out loud; remember that an oral reading is key to a successful translation and will help you identify the grammar. Do not look anything up or be overly concerned about your accuracy right now. Simply read the passage several times and allow the syntax to gradually emerge.

  Riddle 86
  Wiht cwōm gongan,  þær weras sæton  
  monige on mæđle     mōde snottre ;
  hæfde ān ēage   ond ēaran twā
  ond twegen fet,   twelf hund heafda,
(5) hrycg ond wombe      ond honda twā,
  earmas ond eaxle,   ānne swēoran
  ond sīdan twā.             Saga hwæt ic hātte.

             Were you able to identify some of the grammar? I am sure you are surprised with how much of the passage you were able to recognize. If you are still having difficulty, take comfort in the fact that the language does not look as foreign and daunting as it used to. The texts are more familiar and will become even more so with time and practice. The difficulty you are most likely having is not that you do not understand, but rather that there is so much information to remember. Many of you are still at the point where you need to refer back to the paradigms but not to worry. With just a little more practice you can hone your translation skills into a true art form.

           All of the exercises in part four, including this one, do not have an answer key. Do not let this overwhelm you or cause distress. Think of translating as being akin to doing a jigsaw puzzle and try to have fun. After we have uncovered all of the grammatical information a translation of the text will be provided so you can compare your work. These exercises are intended to encourage you to begin to check your own translations without having to rely on provided solutions. If you feel you need to check your work consult the paradigms in your textbook but do not be incredibly concerned about being right or wrong, just enjoy the process.

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