Ða Feower Axunge
(oþþe Frignunge)

 
In February 1997, Murray Spiegel at Bellcore Laboratories solicited the Englisc List for a translation in Old English of the "Four Questions" of the Seder Ceremony. This was to be part of an immense translation project in which he and others had garnered over a hundred translations of this text from the Haggadah from various languages living and dead. If you would like to read the discussion in The Old English Newsletter of our adventures collaborating on this, please click here (link not available yet). The following differs a little from the version we sent to Spiegel in repeating the refrain of the question, and in preferring the word axung to frignung. The variant to the fourth verse, which Spiegel wanted us to include, I give in brackets. Duncan Macrae-Gibson was chosen to read the passage for an audio tape, which I have at my disposal.

Þa Feower Axunge

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum we etað hlaf swa gehafene swa þeorfne.
On þisse nihte, þeorfne anan.

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum we etað mislice wyrta.
On þisse nihte, bitre wyrta anan.

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum ne dyppað we swa oft swa anes.
On þisse nihte, we dyppað tuwa.

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum we etað swa sittende swa hleoniende.
On þisse nihte, ealle we hleoniað.

[Variant:
For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum we eteð on gewunelicre wisan.
On þisse nihte, we etað on ænlicre wisan.]

Contributors:

Cathy Ball
Melissa Bernstein
Patrick Conner
Edwin Duncan
Sarah Higley
Joyce Lionarons
Duncan Macrae-Gibson
Miriam Youngerman Miller
 

The Four Questions

Why is this night unlike all other nights?
On all other nights we eat leavened and/or unleavened bread.
On this night, unleavened only.

Why is this night unlike all other nights?
On all other nights we eat various herbs.
On this night, bitter herbs only.

Why is this night unlike all other nights?
On all other nights we don't dip as often as once.
On this night, we dip twice.

Why is this night unlike all other nights?
On all other nights we eat sitting and/or reclining.
On this night we all recline.

[Why is this night unlike all other nights?
On all other nights we eat in an ordinary way.
On this night, we eat in a special way.]

                                   Return to the Englisc Listserv Homepage.