How do I correctly pronounce the Anglo Saxon word sóncræft (music)?

I feel it should be "sonn crayfte" or "sonn creft".

  • 1
    Since ay wasn't a vowel in Old English, your feeling is probably wrong. Jan 21, 2014 at 20:09
  • 4
    Pronounce it as its spelling suggests, [so:nkræft] in IPA. Old English (Anglo-Saxon) spelling usually represents the pronunciation pretty well; English spelling didn't get funky until much later on. Jan 21, 2014 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


Old English pronunciation is something of a mystery; what we do know is largely informed guess-work. I will, however, describe what I can.

The accent signifies a long vowel; in this case, pronounce it by elongating the o sound.

Pronounce the r by flicking your tongue once off the roof of your mouth. Your tongue will lightly tap the place where you press your tongue to pronounce l sounds. This is done similarly in Italian, Spanish, and Classical Latin pronunciation.

Pronounce the æ how you pronounce the a in cat, but never how you pronounce the a in father. It is somewhere between the a in father and the e in bet, which is why the Anglo-Saxons used the æ (a + e) to represent it.

The rest of the word is pronounced as in Modern English.

If anything is unclear, leave a comment and I will elaborate.


I forgot to say that the stress almost always goes on the first syllable of any word.

I decided that it would be easiest for me to record the word and upload it. Note that I am sick at the moment and my pronunciation will not be flawless, but it will give you the general idea.


As Peter Shor pointed out, we do not truly know how the Anglo-Saxon r sounded. I find that the trilled r fits better with the rest of the pronunciation, but, if you find it difficult, then go with whatever you think best.

  • I don't think anybody really knows how the consonant r sounded in Old English, so if that pronunciation is hard for you, pronounce the r however you like. Jan 21, 2014 at 20:28
  • Ok, so we're thinking "sohn krafft" with the r said in any way I like? Jan 21, 2014 at 20:33

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