Old English: Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel (pronunciation)

Remus

New Member
French
Topic: Old English: Pronunciation of " Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel "
Added by Cagey, moderator

Hello, I know this isn't " real " english, this is old english I think, but I hope I'm not off-topic :oops:
So, I'd like to know the pronunciation of this phrase, thank you very much, have a nice day :)
 
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  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    This is indeed Old English. Specifically, it's from the old (written sometime from the 8th to the 10th century) poem Beowulf. It means "Fate (wyrd) goes (gæð) as (swa) it (hio) will (scel)," more or less.

    The last time I studied Old English seriously was over 50 years ago, and there are few Old English native speakers these days whom we can ask to say this - but, as best I recall, scholars think it would have sounded something like "Gath a word swah hyoo shell." Perhaps others know better.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    If the IPA is of use to you, a closer rendering is [gæ:θ ɑ: wyɾd swɑ: hio ʃɛl]. Hio and scel are variants of the words usually written (in today's writing of Old English) as heo "she, it" = fate and scel "shall, must". The little word a means "always".
     

    tewlwolow

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    If the IPA is of use to you, a closer rendering is [gæ:θ ɑ: wyɾd swɑ: hio ʃɛl]. Hio and scel are variants of the words usually written (in today's writing of Old English) as heo "she, it" = fate and scel "shall, must". The little word a means "always".
    I admit that my knowledge of Old English is purely through Norrønt, but doesn't "ð" grapheme denote a voiced dental fricative /ð/, as opposed to unvoiced /θ/?

    Also, is "y" you wrote the same as modern English "/ɪ/"? What about accents, since you decided to use spaces, which is rather unusual for IPA? Since you wrote "/hio/", does it mean /hi'o/, or did you mean /hijo/? Well, unless you (as the "[]" brackets suggest) wrote a phonetic (not phonemic) transcription, but where are diacritics then?

    Sorry to jump in so rudely, but I'm really interested in given pronunciation, and your explanation seems a bit cloudy to me.
     

    Ihsiin

    Senior Member
    English
    I admit that my knowledge of Old English is purely through Norrønt, but doesn't "ð" grapheme denote a voiced dental fricative /ð/, as opposed to unvoiced /θ/?
    No, ð and þ were used for the same phoneme /θ/, which would have been voiced intervocalically. Old English did not distinguish between voiced and voiceless fricatives in writing. Both ð and þ were used to represent the same sound and could be used interchangeably - for example, as in the word syðþan as found in line 3 of The Dream of the Rood. In the instance of the above phrase, however, my instinct would be to say that the <ð> should be voiced since it appears intervocalically.
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    [y] in [wyrd] is [y], a rounded front high vowel as in French lune, German dünn. (And probably more like the latter in precise detail, being followed by two consonants.) I am puzzled by your point about spaces. They're separate words. [eo] was a falling diphthong, so [heo] is one syllable, so presumably the variant [hio] also was. The second part might have been some rounded central vowel, or possibly not even rounded (and of course this changed over time as it became Middle English).

    I don't know whether a word boundary between two words not closely connected would be enough to block intervocalic voicing.
     

    tewlwolow

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    [y] in [wyrd] is [y], a rounded front high vowel as in French lune, German dünn. (And probably more like the latter in precise detail, being followed by two consonants.) I am puzzled by your point about spaces. They're separate words. [eo] was a falling diphthong, so [heo] is one syllable, so presumably the variant [hio] also was. The second part might have been some rounded central vowel, or possibly not even rounded (and of course this changed over time as it became Middle English).

    I don't know whether a word boundary between two words not closely connected would be enough to block intervocalic voicing.
    They're separate words, that's right, but neither phonetic nor phonemic transcription cares for "words". Words are parts of grammar or lexis, pronunciation deals with phrases. I don't know about you, but I've been taught - and that's what I encounter as well, though errors appear - that IPA transcription uses no spaces at all; it uses accents - and that's what your message lacked. You still do not include them, see:

    [heo] - is it ['heo], [h'eo] or [he'o]? These are three rather distinct things.

    What do you mean by "closely connected"? Again, words are not phonetic categories... I reckon that to retain unvoced quality in intervocalic position is usually due to phonemic contrast with other phrases, like houses as a verb in third person singular present tense vs. houses as a noun in plural. At least in theory...

    Many thanks to @Ihsiin for your most informative reply!
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I have never seen phonetic transcription of sentences that don't show normal word spaces. Obvious examples: all of the examples of 'The North Wind and the Sub' in the IPA handbooks (old and new). You might exceptionally show them as connected, when for example it's under a spectrogram, where you're just lining up segments and symbols.

    [heo] is [heo]. It's a diphthong. It's a single syllable. As are all the other words in that sentence. So no stress mark is needed on any of them. If you want sentence stress, probably the open lexical categories carry stress and the functional categories (swa hio at least) don't, but that's not needed for a phonetic transcription.

    Word boundaries are phonetic facts. Some languages pay attention to them for some phonological purposes, other languages don't. Internal morpheme boundaries can also be phonetic facts, for example English allows geminates across some morpheme boundaries as in unnamed [ʌn'neɪmd].

    (By the way, 'houses' is an irregular noun plural: singular /s/ becomes plural /z/, the only case of such voicing of /s/ in English plurals.)
     

    tewlwolow

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    I have never seen phonetic transcription of sentences that don't show normal word spaces. Obvious examples: all of the examples of 'The North Wind and the Sub' in the IPA handbooks (old and new). You might exceptionally show them as connected, when for example it's under a spectrogram, where you're just lining up segments and symbols.

    [heo] is [heo]. It's a diphthong. It's a single syllable. As are all the other words in that sentence. So no stress mark is needed on any of them. If you want sentence stress, probably the open lexical categories carry stress and the functional categories (swa hio at least) don't, but that's not needed for a phonetic transcription.

    Word boundaries are phonetic facts. Some languages pay attention to them for some phonological purposes, other languages don't. Internal morpheme boundaries can also be phonetic facts, for example English allows geminates across some morpheme boundaries as in unnamed [ʌn'neɪmd].

    (By the way, 'houses' is an irregular noun plural: singular /s/ becomes plural /z/, the only case of such voicing of /s/ in English plurals.)
    Now that's weird! :D My obvious examples would be Wells' Longman dictionary... perhaps there is no consensus on this, or purely hermetic English phonetics? As far as Polish and Norwegian transcription is concerned, spaces are not allowed. Or maybe that's only Wells that's so radical on this matter?

    Good to know. But it was not clear whether it's a single syllable :)

    Then you should define "word". Grammatical words are not phonetic units, that's it.

    A simple, typical English sentence would be, for instance:
    [from: http://www.tolearnenglish.com/exercises/exercise-english-2/exercise-english-12106.php]

    So are you saying that words used are: Redismay fayveurit kuller? No, because sentence stress has nothing to do with grammatical boundaries used in syntax.

    Well I feel we kind of want to express the same... the word is not "un named", but "unnamed". Thus, the graphical, grammatical boundary is not the same as the phonetical one; even though, as you elucidated, morphology and phonetics can me intertwined.
     
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