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Introduction to Old English, Third Edition

February 2012, ©2012, Wiley-Blackwell
Introduction to Old English, Third Edition (EHEP002784) cover image


Featuring numerous updates and additional anthology selections, the 3rd edition of Introduction to Old English confirms its reputation as a leading text designed to help students engage with Old English literature for the first time.

  • A new edition of one of the most popular introductions to Old English
  • Assumes no expertise in other languages or in traditional grammar
  • Includes basic grammar reviews at the beginning of each major chapter and a “minitext” feature to aid students in practicing reading Old English
  • Features updates and several new anthology readings, including King Alfred’s Preface to Gregory’s Pastoral Care

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Table of Contents

Preface xii

Preface to the Second Edition xiii

Preface to the Third Edition xiv

How to use this book xv

1 The Anglo-Saxons and Their Language 1

1.1 Who were they? 1

1.2 Where did their language come from? 3

1.3 What was Old English like? 4

1.4 Old English dialects 10

2 Pronunciation 11

2.1 Quick start 11

2.2 More about vowels 16

2.3 More about c and g 18

2.4 Syllable length 20

2.5 Accentuation 20

2.6 On-line pronunciation practice 21

2.7 Summary 21

3 Basic Grammar: A Review 22

3.1 Parts of speech 22

3.2 Phrases 28

3.3 Clauses 29

3.4 Elements of the sentence or clause 30

4 Case 34

4.1 What is case? 34

4.2 Uses of the cases 35

5 Pronouns 41

5.1 Quick start 41

5.2 More about personal and demonstrative pronouns 44

5.3 Interrogative pronouns 45

5.4 Indefinite pronouns 46

5.5 Relative pronouns 47

5.6 Reflexive pronouns 48

5.7 Reciprocal pronouns 48

6 Nouns 50

6.1 Quick start 50

6.2 More about strong nouns 57

6.3 Minor declensions 60

7 Verbs 64

7.1 Quick start 64

7.2 More about endings 68

7.3 More about weak verbs 69

7.4 More about strong verbs 73

7.5 Verbs with weak presents and strong pasts 79

7.6 More about preterite-present verbs 80

7.8 Negation 82

7.9 The verbals 83

7.10 The subjunctive 85

8 Adjectives 89

8.1 Quick start 89

8.2 Strong adjectives 91

8.3 Weak adjectives 92

8.4 Comparison of adjectives 93

8.5 The adjective in the noun phrase 94

9 Numerals 96

9.1 Quick start 96

9.2 Cardinal numbers 97

9.3 Ordinal numbers 98

10 Adverbs, Conjunctions and Prepositions 99

10.1 Quick start 99

10.2 Adverbs 99

10.3 Conjunctions 101

10.4 Correlation 102

10.5 Prepositions 104

11 Concord 106

11.1 Quick start 106

11.2 Subject and verb 107

11.3 Pronoun and antecedent 110

11.4 Noun and modifiers 111

11.5 Bad grammar? 112

12 Word-order 115

12.1 Quick start 115

12.2 Subject–Verb 115

12.3 Verb–Subject 117

12.4 Subject . . . Verb 118

12.5 Correlation 119

12.6 Anticipation 121

12.7 Periphrastic verbs 121

13 Metre 123

13.1 Alliteration 124

13.2 Rhythm 126

14 Poetic Style 133

14.1 Vocabulary 134

14.2 Variation 137

14.3 Formulas 140

15 The Grammar of Poetry 146

15.1 Inflections 146

15.2 Syntax 147

16 Old English in its Material Context 156

16.1 Manuscripts 156

16.2 Runes 163

16.3 Other inscriptions 167

Appendix A Common Spelling Variants 169

A.1 Vowels of accented syllables 169

A.2 Unaccented syllables 170

A.3 Consonants 171

Appendix B Phonetic Symbols and Terms 172

B.1 International Phonetic Alphabet symbols 172

B.2 Phonetic terms 174

Appendix C Further Reading 175

C.1 General works 175

C.2 Grammars 175

C.3 Dictionaries and concordances 176

C.4 Bibliographies 176

C.5 Old English texts and translations 177

C.6 Literary criticism; sources and analogues; metre 178

C.7 History and culture 178

C.8 Manuscripts, art and archaeology 178

C.9 On-line aids 179

C.10 On-line amusements 180

Anthology 181

1 The Fall of Adam and Eve 181

2 The Life of St Æthelthryth 183

3 Cynewulf and Cyneheard 186

4 The Martyrdom of Ælfheah 188

5 Sermo Lupi ad Anglos 191

6 King Alfred’s Preface to Gregory’s Pastoral Care 197

7 Ohthere and Wulfstan 202

8 The Story of Cædmon 210

9 Boethius on Fame 215

10 A Selection of Riddles 223

11 The Battle of Maldon 227

12 The Wanderer 240

13 The Dream of the Rood 245

14 The Battle of Finnesburh 251

15 Waldere 253

16 Wulf and Eadwacer 257

17 The Wife’s Lament 259

18 The Husband’s Message 262

19 Judith 264

Textual Notes 275

Glossary 283

References 387

Index 394

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Author Information

Peter S. Baker is Professor of English, specializing in medieval literature and the history of the English language, at the University of Virginia. His previous books include editions of Byrhthferth’s Enchiridion (with Michael Lapidge, 1995) and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition.

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“Enhanced with new anthology readings, common spelling variants, phonetic symbols and terms, a glossary, references, and a comprehensive index, "Introduction To Old English" is an ideal student textbook and highly recommended addition to academic library instructional reference collections.”  (Midwest Book Review, 1 May 2012)

 "Excellent introduction designed to provide reading knowledge ... He [Baker] constructs the book to encourage beginning students to start translating almost immediately" (The Medieval Review, June 2008)

"The fruit of years of sensitive, thoughtful and student-responsive teaching. [...] this work is a huge step forward in imaginative course design. It is accessible in manner and genuinely tries to address the needs of the modern student and teacher, taking them through a course step by step. [...] by far the best attempt yet to introduce Old English, and I enthusiastically recommend it to members." (TOEBI Newsletter)

"Peter Baker's excellent new book, a combined grammar and reader, deserves to find a central place in the university teaching of Old English. It is unabashedly designed to be accessible to absolute beginners, but students who progress attentively through the whole book will in fact find themselves in command of a great deal of what makes Old English language and literature tick. [...] These chapters [on 'Metre', 'Poetic Style', 'The Grammar of Poetry', and 'Reading Old English Manuscripts'] constitute the real novelty of the book in their lucid summation of some essential truths that have rarely if ever been to clearly set out for beginners; the sections on poetry in particular deserve to be read by all students beginning the translation of Old English for the first time." (Notes and Queries)

"The new edition is a solid tool that both an independent student and a classroom full of students will find useful. The book's approach is balanced. It includes just the right amount of explanatory text ... while also offering ... grammar tools and exercises. The selection of readings is varied and exemplary. Much thought was put into the choice, quantity, and order of the other texts in the anthology. I would certainly recommend this book for an introductory course in Old English.... Baker's new edition is a pleasure to read and would be a pleasure to use in the classroom." (Comitatus)

"In its references to web-sites and computer-links, An Introduction to Old English is very much a book of the twenty-first century; and many of its novel features - for example the chapter on the grammar of poetry, or the appendix on common spelling variants - will be extraordinarily helpful to teachers and students alike."
Michael Lapidge, University of Notre Dame

"Baker's Introduction is the kind of book that students of Old English - and their teachers - have been waiting for for a long time."
Hugh Magennis, Queen's University Belfast

"This is a truly outstanding textbook for today's student of Old English. Written in lucid and friendly prose, Baker brings the language to life in a manner that will inspire students."
Elaine Treharne, University of Leicester

"Peter Baker's Introduction to Old English offers an innovative combination of the traditional and the cutting edge. Beginning with the basics of the language, the chapters proceed through intelligently paced levels so that by the end the user is reading the most sophisticated literature in Old English."
Daniel G. Donoghue, Harvard University

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Purchase Options
Introduction to Old English, 3rd Edition
ISBN : 978-1-4443-5420-1
400 pages
March 2012
$42.99   BUY

Introduction to Old English, 3rd Edition
ISBN : 978-0-470-65984-7
414 pages
February 2012
$52.95   BUY

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