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FIRST STEPS IN ANGLO-SAXON Unknown Binding – 1897

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press (1897)
  • ASIN: B001OMP1H0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DE on March 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First Steps in Anglo-Saxon by Henry Sweet is a short book of just over 100 pages that can launch you into reading basic -- and interesting -- Old English. Many books which offer to teach you Old English load you down with excess material too early. Not this one. Sweet, who died nearly a century ago, was famous for his Oxford University studies in linguistics and Germanic languages, and Old English in particular, and several of his works are still in print. As he notes in his introduction, this book is intended to be a "purely practical introduction to the language," so he skips most of the complicated history of the grammar and sound changes which a beginner doesn't need at the outset.

His goal in the first section of just 25 pages is to provide the minimum of grammar and syntax necessary to get you actually reading Old English. He follows this with some simple texts describing the physical world ("Seo sunne gaeth betweonan heofon and eorthan"; "The sun goes/moves between heaven and earth"), and then on to his famous "Be Manna Craeftum," "About the Skills (or Crafts) of Men." The original 1000 year-old Old English text was a stilted translation from Latin, but Sweet, sometimes affectionately called the "last native speaker of Old English" for his skill with the language, revised it into a more idiomatic version of a dialog between a questioner and a series of figures from Anglo-Saxon society, who talk about their professions, such as a munuc (monk), sceapehierde (shepherd), fiscere (fisherman), etc. At this point you begin to get a feel for the language.
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By SaraM on March 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thank goodness Henry Sweet's little book is still available! Any serious student of Old English should have a copy. The brief grammar section summarizes important forms and provides very helpful paradigms. The included texts are fun to read. Add a copy of any modern Old English grammar & reader with a good glossary, and a beginner can get a good start on learning to read Old English.
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