Annotations and comments

Matthew Moppett has posted 3 annotations/comments since 11 November 2013.

The most recent…


About Thursday 26 December 1661

Matthew Moppett  •  Link

@Sasha: interesting! The pronoun "þu" was often encliticised to a preceding verb as "-tu": the Tolkien quote is good Old English.

But why do you think the pronunciation of wassail in Middle English derived from Old English? If Old English "wes hal" had developed in a similar way to "ves heill", it would have become *wessal or maybe *wessole or *wessoal (compare the modern English word "whole", which is a direct descendant of Old English "hal" -- the "w" at the beginning is a scribal interpolation), or perhaps "wessale" if it had developed on the same trajectory as "hale" (the Scottish/northern English equivalent of "whole", also descended from Old English "hal"). Middle English "ai" in "wassail" is a regular descendant of Old Norse "ei": compare modern English "raise" (from Old Norse "reisa"), or "bait" (from O.N. "beita"). It's worth noting that the "v" in "ves" was pronounced as /w/ in Old Norse (later changing to a /v/ sound in most modern descendants of that language).

About Thursday 26 December 1661

Matthew Moppett  •  Link

@Sasha: you've got the etymology of "wassail" wrong: it's from Old Norse "ves heill", not (directly) from any Anglo-saxon/Old English form.

Old English did have the related expression "wes (þu) hal" -- meaning "stay well/keep healthy", but there's no indication it was used as a drinking toast, as "ves heill" was. And the "ves"/"wes" part has nothing to do with the verb "to wax" -- they're imperative forms of the Old Norse and Old English verbs "vesa" and "wesan", both meaning "to remain, to stay". The suppletive past tense forms of the modern English verb "to be" -- "was" and "were" -- are derived from "wesan", but the verb in its present/infinitive etc. forms disappeared during the Middle English period. Have a look at this link here:

Wes þu hal :-)

About Saturday 10 November 1660

Matthew Moppett  •  Link

"there bought Montelion, which this year do not prove so good as the last was; so after reading it I burnt it."

This seems to be a fairly extreme reaction. Was the (private) burning of books one took a dislike to a common practice in the 17th Century?