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Anglo-Saxon Primer With Grammar, Notes, and Glossary; Eighth Edition Revised   By: (1845-1912)

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Grammar, Notes, and Glossary



Eighth Edition, Revised

Oxford At the Clarendon Press 1905

Printed in England At the Oxford University Press



The want of an introduction to the study of Old English has long been felt. Vernon's Anglo Saxon Guide was an admirable book for its time, but has long been completely antiquated. I was therefore obliged to make my Anglo Saxon Reader a somewhat unsatisfactory compromise between an elementary primer and a manual for advanced students, but I always looked forward to producing a strictly elementary book like the present one, which would enable me to give the larger one a more scientific character, and would at the same time serve as an introduction to it. Meanwhile, however, Professor Earle has brought out his Book for the beginner in Anglo Saxon . But this work is quite unsuited to serve as an introduction to my Reader, and will be found to differ so totally in plan and execution from the present one as to preclude all idea of rivalry on my part. We work on lines which instead of clashing can only diverge more and more.

My main principle has been to make the book the easiest possible introduction to the study of Old English.

Poetry has been excluded, and a selection made from the easiest prose pieces I could find. Old English original prose is unfortunately limited in extent, and the most suitable pieces (such as the voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan) are already given in the Reader; these I could not give over {vi} again. But I hope the short extracts from the Chronicle and the Martyrdom of King Edmund will be found not wanting in interest. For the rest of the selections I have had to fall back on scriptural extracts, which have the great advantages of simplicity and familiarity of subject. The Gospel extracts have been transferred here from the Reader, where they will be omitted in the next edition. The sentences which head the selections have been gathered mainly from the Gospels, Ælfric's Homilies, and the Chronicle. They are all of the simplest possible character, only those having been taken which would bear isolation from their context. They are intended to serve both as an introduction and as a supplement to the longer pieces. They are grouped roughly into paragraphs, according to the grammatical forms they illustrate. Thus the first paragraph consists mainly of examples of the nominative singular of nouns and adjectives, the second of accusative singulars, and so on.

The spelling has been made rigorously uniform throughout on an early West Saxon basis. Injurious as normalizing is to the advanced student, it is an absolute necessity for the beginner, who wants to have the definite results of scholarship laid before him, not the confused and fluctuating spellings which he cannot yet interpret intelligently. Even for purely scientific purposes we require a standard of comparison and classification, as in the arrangement of words in a dictionary, where we have to decide, for instance, whether to put the original of hear under [=e], [=i]e, [=i] or [=y] . The spelling I here adopt is, in fact, the one I should recommend for dictionary purposes. From early West Saxon it is an easy step both to late W. S. and to the Mercian forms from which Modern English is derived. That I give Ælfric in a spelling slightly earlier than his date is no more {vii} unreasonable than it is for a classical scholar to print Ausonius (who doubtless spoke Latin with an almost Italian pronunciation) in the same spelling as Virgil.

It is impossible to go into details, but in doubtful or optional cases I have preferred those forms which seemed most instructive to the student. Thus I have preferred keeping up the distinction between the indic. bundon and the subj. bunden , although the latter is often levelled under the former even in early MS... Continue reading book >>

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