Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Uncleftish Beholding

I was not getting much out off Poul Anderson's humorous piece, "Uncleftish Beholding" (All One Universe, 1997, pp. 99-104), which translates scientific terminology into the Anglo-Saxon language of a timeline in which the Norman Conquest did not occur. However, when I put down my copy of All One Universe, Sheila, a Modern Languages graduate, picked it up and started to unravel some of the meanings -

worldken: science;
stuff: matter;
work: energy;
watching: observation;
firststuffs: elements;
waterstuff: hydrogen;
ymirstuff: uranium;
aegirstuff: neptunium;
helstuff: plutonium;
motes: particles;
unclefts: atoms;
bulkbits: molecules;
bindings: compounds;
sourstuff: oxygen;
kernel: nucleus;
forward and backward: positive and negative.

But there are two more pages and I am lost again.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Yes, I agree, "Unclefish Beholding" was one of the more difficult pieces Anderson wrote. Maybe it needs a philologist like Sheila or JRR Tolkien to really appreciate this item. Tolkien, as you may know wss a scholar and expert in Old English and other Germanic languages, so he would have no problem with this article Anderson wrote.