Finding wisdom in Old English

Anglo-Saxon literature is full of advice on how to live a good life. Many Anglo-Saxon poems and proverbs describe the characteristics a wise person should strive to possess, offering counsel on how
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Anglo-Saxon literature is full of advice on how to live a good life. Many Anglo-Saxon poems and proverbs describe the characteristics a wise person should strive to possess, offering counsel on how to treat others and how to obtain and use wisdom in life. Here are some words in Old English (the name we give to the Germanic language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons) that describe what a wise person should aspire to be—and some qualities it’s better to avoid. wis Old English had many words for ‘wise’: wis, gleaw, snotor, and more. Frod seems to describe someone who’s grown wise from experience, while someone who is learned in books can be called boccræftig. There are plenty of words to describe the opposite quality, too: a person who is not very wise may be unwis or samwis (like Tolkien’s simple, though very loyal, Samwise Gamgee), dollic (‘foolish’), or dysig (‘stupid,’ related to our dizzy). wærwyrde The right and wrong way to use speech is a recurring concern in Old English poetry. A wise. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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