Purpose, Goals and Function

         Sutton Hoo Helmet

            This online translation manual is intended to be an introductory aid to the process of translating and reading Old English texts. I have created an interactive website where students can practice and hone their skills in a comfortable online environment and also one that can be accessed from the privacy of their homes. This website is not only an introductory aid, but also promotes a nuanced approach to translation work. It nurtures the understanding that translation is a multifaceted activity, encouraging students to explore their own interpretations of a text, experiment with different approaches and develop their own methodologies. Written by a student for students, this guide explains in-depth concepts in an easy to understand format. When one is learning a new language or skill the last thing they need is to try and decipher the instructions. Each exercise thus has a short, concise and effective description of the information that needs to be conveyed along with practice texts where students can immediately put their newly learned skills into use. All the information that is needed when conducting a translation is provided in an easy to access format.

           It must be acknowledged that while this website represents one way to go about translation work, it by no means asserts that this is the only introductory approach to the language. I have taken the skills I have learned and arranged them in a format that can be used as a complimentary aid. This website is not intended to replace a course on the process of translation, but rather to provide another resource for students to practice their newly discovered skills. A brief description of the history and nature of the language is provided, along with short grammatical explanations, but these are not to take place of in-class lessons or further research. In fact, students are encouraged to explore the history of the Anglo-Saxons and refer to additional resources where needed.

          It has been a pleasure to work on something I enjoy so much while simultaneously creating a resource for my peers. Any comments or suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. You can reach me through email at: molnarl@mcmaster.ca


How to Use this Website

         This website is intended to be used in the order it is presented in the index. Start with 'Part One,' going through each exercise in this section and then complete 'Part Two.' Once you have finished all the exercises you can easily go back and repeat sections where you need more practice. All of the exercises do not have to be completed in one session. Take your time and go through each exercise slowly, breaking when needed. Your teacher might require you to complete certain exercises for class, but always make sure you give yourself enough time to thoroughly understand each skill.

           At the bottom of every page is a 'Back to Index' hyperlink; use this to navigate your way through the site. I have tried making it as simple as possible for you to refer to past exercises in case you forget exactly how to complete the task at hand. On some of the pages there are additional links that will take you to later translation exercises. Do not click these the first time you go through the manual. Wait until you have arrived at the later exercise and use this link to refer back to earlier riddles for reference. This feature saves you the time of going back to the index and finding the exact part of the manual you need to refer to. Note, however, that whenever you leave a page you are working on, the words you have imputed into the text boxes will disappear. If you want to refer back to past exercises and still ensure that you do not lose your work, either cut and paste what you have done into a word processor or open another window. It is always a good idea, however, to keep saved copies of your translations so you edit and make changes to your work.

           As well, please forgive any discrepancies in the Old English text. Unfortunately, every computer has slightly different settings and uses different internet browsers. Certain Old English characters such as the thorn or ash, for example, might not show up properly on your computer. It is thus helpful to compare the texts used on this site to original publications. The riddles are available in the library if you do not already have copies of them. If you notice a high number of discrepancies in the Old English text, download a newer browser or update your old one. This website will work best with Microsoft Internet Explorer six or seven, which I have provided a link to at the bottom of the page. While the titles for this website are supposed to be in a beautiful Old English style font, certain browsers will not recognize this and simply revert to Arial or Times New Roman. Although this is less ascetically pleasing, my primary concern is with users being able to read the text at all. Also, please note that the Old-English '' and 'y' are never accented on this site, although there are a few instances where they should be. I was not able to insert these characters with accents so please make changes where necessary.

           In order to input special characters of the Old English alphabet for your exercises you will need to go into your word processor and assign the characters to specific keys of your choosing. If you are using Microsoft Word select 'Insert' from the menu bar and then click on 'Symbol.' A box will appear with a series of different symbols and characters. Scroll until you identify the Old English character you want to assign to your keyboard and select it with your cursor. Click on the 'Shortcut Key' option and a box will appear which allows you to type in the prompt you want for that specific character to be inserted. For example on my computer I have assigned the 'æ' character to 'Ctrl + a.' Whenever I hit the control button simultaneously with the letter 'A' on my keyboard, the Old English symbol 'æ' appears.

           As you complete your work you will be introduced to a variety of wonderful Anglo-Saxon images with brief captions. A more in-depth explanation of each object can be found in part four, under 'Image Index.' It is important to get a sense of what these objects looked like and were used for as many Old English texts refer to things that we simply do not have in our culture. In many ways we are translating 'culturally blind,' and this section is intended to help ease this social and historical gap.

           I hope you enjoy this site as much as I have enjoyed the process of making it. The Anglo-Saxon language is different than anything I have ever encountered and I am grateful to have been exposed to its inherent charm. I hope this manual inspires an appreciation for the unique and rich cultural history found within these ancient words. Happy riddling.

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