aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

I love Old English

I have loved ancient Anglo-Saxon history since I was ten years old or so and I read scraps of a college textbook my mother had on her shelves. Something about the Heptarchy just swept me away with the same feeling I later found upon reading The Lord of the Rings. Something about this whole background communicating with the present. Profound depth, romantic dazzle on the surface, and all that.

Of course, once I started reading LOTR at age 13, I fell in love with the Old English language. I wanted to take a course in college, but they said I had to be in graduate school. Later, in grad school, they said it didn't match up with my program. So I've had to teach myself. (BTW, the true OE junkie just has to read J.R.R. Tolkien's scholarly study Finn and Hengest: the Fragment and the Episode. As dense and complex as eating Black Forest Cake -- must be taken slowly and savored!)

Certain OE words (extant or made-up) have been very important to me. One of the first OE compounds I worked out at age 14 was aefenglommung, which means "evening gloaming, dusk, twilight." It was the name of the kingdom of my fantasies as a teenager. Later, it became the home base of the party in a long-lived AD&D campaign. When we bought and began to develop our 22 acre woodlot in the next county south of here, I wanted to call it Aefenglommung; collinsmom didn't like it.

Eventually, we settled on Wilderstead, a word coined by me out of OE roots. In proper OE, it would have been wildorstede, if it had appeared at all. "Wilderness," I found out, does not mean a place or situation characterized by wildness. Nor is "wilder" the plural of "wild," as "childer" was the original plural of "child." OE wildor, a contraction of wild deor, "wild animal, game" + "ness" = the place where game animals live, as opposed to places where tame animals (and humans) live, or lifeless places, etc. (Deor -- cognate w/German Tier -- in modern English has become "deer," one particular game animal.) "Stead" is a place; "wilderstead" is thus the place where wild animals are (especially deer and turkey, in our case).

Those who know me well know that I use the word Engellac in a lot of contexts (though never referring to myself): it's easy for me to remember. I once drew up the characters for and outlined the entirety of a huge prehistoric fantasy epic. It was inspired by the speculations about Grendel's ancestry in Beowulf. "Engellac," an OE word coined by me, means "Angel's gift." Engellac was the main character of this huge, unwritten story -- a story that still haunts me.

The four characters on my MS Hearts game are Engellac, Gamol, Wulfram, and Cynefyr. Gamol and Wulfram are actual OE names; Cynefyr is another self-composed OE compound, meaning approximately "royal fire." (Cynefyr was one of the villains of Engellac's story.)

Does anyone else have this kind of romantic love affair with a given dead or obscure language?
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