Sunday, 11 September 2011

A Note to Those Attempting Old English Pronunciation

In fact, only to you who hail from parts of North America prone to palatalization and nasalization of your vowels:

While the pronunciation of "Hwæt" does rhyme more with "cat" than with "what", this is only the case if you speak like Dr. Gregory House. If your normal pronunciation of "box" resembles in any way the spelling "bee-ax" suddenly Old English epic poems seem to begin not with "What!" but with a sound more fitting for a millpond than a meadhall. I promise you, that though there may be much in Old English study open to interpretation, no Anglo-Saxon scop ever called to attention a horde of drinking men by quacking like a duck.

Sincerely yours,

A Concerned Party


postscript: One day, I will have internet at my home again. For now, I'm in a cafe next to a laundromat, blogging while Vaulting does more productive things.

2 comments:

Dr. Virago said...

I see you are also contending with the Northern Cities Vowel Shift. Changed the whole way I teach Old and Middle English pronunciation! Worse -- I'm starting to pick it up in my own speech! Ack! (Or should I say ee-ack!?)

Calvin Brock said...

Pronunciation is the way a phrase or a vocabulary is used, or the manner in which someone utters a phrase. If you are said to have got "correct pronunciation", then it refers to both inside a particular dialect. How to pronounce London place-names