Under the most common interpretation, Old English hwæt, the very first word of the epic poem Beowulf, is to be considered as an interjection (e.g. Lo!). After discussing two theoretical positions that depart from this traditional assumption, i.e. the exclamative hypothesis (Walkden 2013) and the pragmatic marker hypothesis (Brinton 1996, 2017), this study aims at taking into consideration the hermeneutical and translational implications of the aforementioned theories. It will also be claimed that a virtuous synthesis of the two positions is not impossible; therefore, new translations of ancient texts are called for, in which such synthesis can be pursued.
Old English. Hwæt-hypotheses. Theory and practice of translation.