Episode 43: Anglo-Saxon Monsters and Mythology

Many Anglo-Saxons believed in a world inhabited by monsters and mythological creatures. They also believed in the power of sorcery and witchcraft. These ideas are reflected in the literature of the Anglo-Saxons, most notably the epic poem Beowulf. In this episode, we explore the monsters and mythological creatures of the Anglo-Saxons and their ancestors.

10 thoughts on “Episode 43: Anglo-Saxon Monsters and Mythology

  1. Hello, Kevin.

    I had a bit of confusion during this episode, when you were describing the evolution of wicca and wicce. It must be very difficult, with only audio, to juggle explanations of the changes over time of both spellings and pronunciations of words and word parts. In general, you do a great job. In this case, though, I wasn’t able to follow the reasoning. You were referring to the “a” sound and the “e” sounds as the different endings leading to the difference in the preceding consonant; but when you pronounced the two different words, I heard no difference in the ending vowel. Help?


    • The male version was ‘wicca’ (/wee-kah/) and the female version was ‘wicce’ (/wee-keh/). However, in Old English, the letter ‘C’ became a /ch/ sound before a front vowel (e,i,y). So ‘wicce’ (/wee-keh/) became /wee-cheh/ – and then eventually became ‘witch.’

  2. Very interesting and entertaining episode! I’ve studied (and currently teach) Beowulf to 12th graders. This episode was packed full of interesting detail. I loved learning the backstory of so many modern English terms.

  3. Hi Kevin I really enjoyed this episode, do you have any more episodes or bonus episodes planned about monsters or mythology? would love to learn more! I’ve just downloaded the alphabet and Beowulf audiobooks so I’m sure there will be some in there too. Looking forward to the transcript for this episode in particular, my 50c is ready! Thank you for your efforts.

    • I don’t have any specific episodes planned, but I’m sure the subject will come up again at some point as I explore more modern words for monsters. Also, I should have a transcript update very soon.

  4. Fantastic work! I love that what you created years ago can be heard in my kitchen today, and again tomorrow, since it’s worth a repeat.

    I’m finding out who my friends are since listening to you. ; ) Some people don’t want to hear me talk about this fascinating topic. Perhaps your delivery is better, so I told them to listen to your podcast. I didn’t recruit everyone, but at least a couple talk with me about language history.

    Thank you Kevin!

  5. Another fascinating episode.

    On the topic of eliding the β€˜n’ at the start of a word, the etymology of Orange is another example. The word came from the Sanskrit naranga, which became naranj in Persian and Arabic, naranja in Spanish. When oranges first came to England they were called norange. The same thing happened in Italian too, changing from narancia to arancia.

    About the etymology of the word β€˜dream’ the German translation is Traum. There must be a common root word. Fascinating to hear the etymology of nightmare. I often wondered.

  6. Pingback: Was Grendel Bigfoot? – FANTASTIC CREATURES and Where They May be Found to Abound

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