cempa, m.n: a soldier, warrior. (CHEM-pa / ˈtʃɛm-pa)

Today is the feast day of St George.

St George. Missel romain. Northern Italy (Bologna), 1373. Avignon, BM, MS. 136, f. 236. Image of Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes – CNRS.

8 thoughts on “cempa

  1. This reminds me of the difficulty of settling on OE pronunciations. Is there a rule to explain why this is “kempa” instead of “chempa”? More recently I’ve run into “wolcn.” Is the c a k because there’s no e, or a ch because the e is invisible?


    • It should be “chem-pah”, actually, that’s a mistake on my part. I’ll fix it! I know what you mean about wolcn – it seems wrong saying “wool-chen”, especially when it’s spelled like this. I wonder if the differences in spelling for wolcen/wolcn indicate different pronunciations depending on where/when exactly the scribes were writing.


  2. Here’s a related query. I saw a website on OE pronunciation that said the G in Engel is pronounced the same way as the G in our angel. I would like that to be true but I was surprised. The modern speaker does not like having different G’s in Engel and englas. So the same question arises as with wolcn. Do syncopated e’s live on to soften preceding c’s and g’s?


  3. Front vowels (e, æ, i) palatalize the preceding consonant. So a c makes a ch, a g makes either a y(like in yes) or a dj(edge) sound, and an sc combo sounds like the modern sh.


  4. That’s a brief description and probably has some holes in it, but you might be able to google palatalization in old english and get a better answer. Also I realize now this thread is four years old, so I may have arrived too late lol


  5. The problem with straightforward palatalization rules is you have alternate spellings of words in OE manuscripts. If the word is spelled wolcn, is it meant to be pronounced the same as wolcen, or the alternate spelling an indication that it was pronounced differently? It’s not as if pronunciation or spelling was standardized at this point in history.


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