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Author Topic: Ding Dong Merrily on High  (Read 5164 times)

David

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Ding Dong Merrily on High
« on: December 24, 2018, 04:40:23 PM »
I have just been listening to some carols. In Ding Dong Merrily on High I suddenly heard a couple of Old English participles in

"Let steeple bells be swungen"

followed by
"By priest and people sungen"

They were pronounced as in Modern English but you can't have everything.

Eanflaed

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Re: Ding Dong Merrily on High
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2018, 04:53:31 PM »
I always wondered about those words, David (I love carols) - thank you for explaining where they came from! I came across another”funny” word yesterday: do you know what a “thew” is?

David

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Re: Ding Dong Merrily on High
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2018, 08:49:54 AM »
You really want thew in context.

If you came across ϸēw in Old English it was an alternative version of the word ϸēow and so meant slave or servant.

In Modern English it appears that the word thew means muscle. It comes from the Old English word ϸēaw, meaning custom/habit/conduct (in the plural virtues/good manners/morals) In Middle English the spelling changed to ϸew/thew and then later in Middle English the meaning became more physical, muscle.

Eanflaed

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Re: Ding Dong Merrily on High
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2018, 11:07:37 PM »
Wow thanks for that David. I knew you’d know! In the context I read it the custom/habit/conduct explanation makes perfect sense.