How to use an ancient language in a novel part 2

Anglo Saxon runes
Anglo Saxon runes
Anglo Saxon runes

This is part two of a series called ‘How to use an ancient language in a novel.’ and it includes a practical example of how I’ve sometimes used the ancient language of ‘Old English’ in a novel that I’m writing.

It’s a horror story which is set in a coastal village in modern East Anglia, England, where the inhabitant are entirely descended from Saxon settlers.

Saxons were a Germanic tribe that came from what is now known as Germany, centuries ago.

They spoke a language which eventually became Anglo Saxon, or Old English. 

They are proud of their Saxon heritage.

In fact they are fanatical about it, they are so fanatical that in order to defend it they are willing to kill anyone who is not of pure Saxon heritage.

This means that they are willing to kill just about everyone else in England, because hardly anyone else is of pure Saxon heritage, most are of Anglo-Saxon heritage.

If you’re of Anglo Saxon heritage, relax, you’re safe, it’s only fiction.

So how do you use the ancient language of Old English in a modern novel?

This is how I’ve done it.

I’ve discovered that the Old English word for God is ‘Eallwealda,’ and that the Old English word for monster is ‘Eoten.’

They might not be entirely accurate; a scholar of Old English might decide that it’s slightly inaccurate.

But it’s reasonably accurate.

This is how I’ve introduced the concept of someone using an ancient language.

‘He sometimes used words from the ancient language of his forebears – the language of Old English.’

This is how I’ve used this concept in practice.

‘The men dare not take their boats out to sea to fish lest the monster which they call the ’Eoten’ seizes them.’

Here’s another example of how to introduce the concept and use it in practice.

This time, a young Saxon girl uses two words which are in Old English.

‘She placed her hands together and looked up towards the sky, which was hidden by the sea mist.’

‘“Eallwealda!” she pleaded, using the Old English word for ‘ruler of all.’

“Save me from the Eoten!”’

You might also enjoy:

How to use an ancient language in a novel part one

Author: Paul Gresham

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