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Author Topic: Hwæt  (Read 5404 times)

peter horn

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« on: June 19, 2016, 10:19:17 AM »
The word 'Hwæt' has been translated in a number of different ways.
Dr George Walkden of Univ. of Manchester, argues that 'the use of the word
means the line is not a stand alone command but informs the wider
exclamatory nature of the sentence. ' He says that Hwæt should
be combined
with the clause that follows it.
This, as far as I can see, means that the word Hwæt is
meaningless when used on its own.


  • Ealdormann
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  • Posts: 751
Re: Hwæt
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2016, 06:10:43 PM »
Perhaps the modern equivalent might be "oy!" Or just "oh".


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  • Ealdormann
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  • Posts: 556
Re: Hwæt
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2016, 07:43:07 PM »
Dare I say it could be like "oyez!"...

I imagine thumping a staff on the ground or striking a drum at the same time to get attention, but that's probably just me :)


  • Hlaford
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  • Posts: 391
  • Essex scirgerefa
Re: Hwæt
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2016, 12:26:03 PM »
If anyone wants to read the paper referred to by Peter Horn, it can be found at


and the first page of the manuscript can be viewed at


It is worth noting that it is not just 'hwæt' that appears in large capitals but the whole first line which contains 'hwæt we garde' (with 'nas' appearing in normal script on the following line).
« Last Edit: August 04, 2016, 12:36:32 PM by Linden »
Cræft biþ betere ðonne æhta

peter horn

  • Guest
Re: Hwæt
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2016, 11:43:15 AM »
Hwæt has caused difficulties in translation.
According to Clark Hall's dictionary Hwæt means 'Wherefore' or "What Lo"
and draws attention to the words following it.
I think the view expressed above by Dr George Walkden is correct
and therefore to exclaim "Hwæt"! as if the word itself has some meaning
is incorrect.