adj., v. (pres. ptcp.)

(1) 'swirling'; (2) 'pretty, pleasant' or 'slow'

(Modern English )


(1) The word at the beginning of Pe 111 ('swangeande swete the water con swepe') is usually interpreted as a pres. ptc. of the rare ME v. swangen (see Attestation). A native etymon is then assumed on the basis of comparison with the hapax OE verbal n. swangettung 'movement, agitation' (used with reference to the sea). Such a v. would be formed on the root swang-, related to the v. OE swingan 'to beat, strike' (ME swingen) and the caustive OE swengan 'to shake, shatter' (ME swengen). (2) Emerson (1927: 812, cited cautiously by McGee) objects to the interpretation of <-ande> as a ptc. ending following <e>, and instead interprets it as a conj., following an adj. <swange> which he identifies with ME swonge < ON, cp. OIcel svangr 'slender, slim, thin' (cp. swange), giving what he argues is a preferable reading of 'pleasant, pretty' (by extending the sense 'graceful' from (1440) PParv. (Hrl 221)). Alternatively, he allows that OE swanger (swangor < *swang-ra-) 'heavy, inert; slow, sluggish' could lie behind the adj. and in that case glosses 'slow'. Without secure parallels, both of Emerson's explanations seem unduly speculative.

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *swang-; (2) *swanga- or *swangra-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(2) svangr 'slender, slim, thin'
(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far swangur, Icel swangur, Norw svang, Dan svang, Sw dial svång(er)

OE Cognate

(1) cp. swangettung 'movement, agitation'; (2) swangor 'heavy, inert; slow, sluggish'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



(1) MED and OED only cite one futher instance of a ME v. swangen, in c1450(c1350) Alex.& D. (Bod 264) where it refers to dolphins and fish moving about in the water. (2) MED only cites swonge from c1300 Evang. (Dlw 22), a1425 *Treat.Uroscopy (Wel 225) and (1440) PParv. (Hrl 221).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 111

Emerson (alone) interprets this as two words: an adj. swange and a conj. ande (see Etymological Discussion (2)).


(1) MED swangen (v.) , OED swang (v.) , HTOED , AEW swangettung; (2) MED swong(e (adj.) , OED swong (adj.) , de Vries svangr, Mag. svangur, Heid. *swanga-, *swangra-