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Author Topic: 'Ago' in Old English  (Read 13567 times)


  • Guest
Re: 'Ago' in Old English
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2011, 08:55:23 AM »
Yep, nu på torsdag means exactly that, and there's a similar emphasis of the word nu in other temporal phrases related to the present.

Ha, your Swedish experiences sound very similar to mine, so I can empathise. I've been here for nearly 8 yrs now and still get that sort of interference  :)

Well, I now feel that that use of might have been embedded enough to allow some flexibility, so nú for þrym dágum might well have been just the most descriptive option to hand, a default if you like, but there may have been other ways of expressing it either commonly or regionally. By the way, I don't believe that ymb þæs does actually mean 'ago', I think the OE Thesaurus is wrong to list it as such, and if you discount the OE Thesaurus all sources indicate that it means 'after that'..

But you're right about the dearth of opportunity for instances of phrases like 'ago' in OE writing.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 10:36:19 AM by Deorca »


  • Guest
Re: 'Ago' in Old English
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2011, 10:09:03 PM »
Many thanks Deorca for hunting down the relevant information in your big book o' grammar.

Thanks also to Leofwine, Iohannes, Jayson and everyone who contributed to this thread.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing against 'nu for' in favour of what the thesaurus says. I don't believe that 'ymb þæs' means 'ago' either. B&T is quite clear about what it means.  In fact, I'm really happy to have a definitive answer to this question and I've been practising 'nu for...' and it's kind of automatic now. I just find it interesting that English abandoned this way of expressing this time relationship in favour of 'ago' and that each of the Germanic languages has it's own idiom to express this.

The thesaurus is a great tool for finding words, but I always check the words in B&T before using them. I want to see the words in context, but I also want to see what the gender is and what case they take which is a particular strength of B&T.