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Comment: Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date of Publication: 1994
Binding: soft cover
Condition: Very Good
Description: 052145848x Crisp, bright, and clean; no owners' marks; except for a gentle fold across the top front corner and a little light shelf rubbing at the corners of the soft cover, as new.
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Old English: A Historical Linguistic Companion Paperback – March 3, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0521458481 ISBN-10: 052145848X

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Old English: A Historical Linguistic Companion + Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction + Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (March 3, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052145848X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521458481
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


."..a remarkably useful and informative book for those who are reaching beyond the introductory OE grammers but are somewhat daunted by the meticulous detail and stilted presentation of the standard handbooks. The information in this book is presented clearly and concisely, and contains numerous tables and figures to better illustrate important points of phonological and morphological change in OE and other Germanic languages..." WORD

Book Description

Bridging the gap between elementary Old English grammars and the major philological grammars and recent interpretations of Old English data, this work renders accessible the Indo-European and Germanic background to Old English in a linguistically up-to-date and readable form.

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
Old English: A Historical Linguistic Companion is a choice book for those who need accurate and concise information on OE grammar. One of the major strengths of this book is its diachronic view of the grammar. Lass does not treat Old English as a language in isolation, but, rather, he guides the reader through the changes from Proto-Indo-European to the English language of the early Middle Ages. Lass focusses primarily on the phonology of Old English, and, at the same time, gives informative analyses of verbal and nominal morphology. However, this book does not constrain itself to structural description. The chapters on Vocabulary and Word-Formation and The Dissolution of Old English give a glimpse into the world of languages in contact and societal change during and prior to the period. Old English: A Historical Linguistic Companion is as easy to use as a pocket-grammar and contains the information linguists need in a fully analyzed, succinct manner.
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Format: Paperback
Roger Lass' 1994 book OLD ENGLISH: A Historical Linguistic Companion is a rigorous examination of how Old English got to be the way it is, a useful presentation of historical background from Proto-Indo-European through the various stages of Germanic prior to OE proper. It is a book meant for students of Old English who struggle to memorize irregular morphology or who don't understand how English vocabulary ended up looking so different from German or Dutch. Lass lists as examples the following difficulties as matters easily overcome by a knowledge of the historical background:

* Why do certain verbs have double consonants in some parts of the paradigm, and singles elsewhere?

* Why do verbs like sellan "sell", tellan "tell" have preterites sealde, tealde rather than *sellede, *tellede?

* Why do certain strong verbs which historically ought to have the same vocalism not do so? E.g. cl III singan "sing", pret sg sang, but in the same class helpan "help", pret sg healp, and weorpan "throw", pret sg "wearp".

And so on. Lass' look at OE history is mainly divided into Phonology and Morphology. Everything of course should be read in order, since the morphology of OE is so wacky because of all the phonological changes that led up to it. There's also a nice chapter on vocabulary and word formation, as well as a brief look at the "dissolution" of Old English, the changes evident in late OE texts that augur the arrival of Middle English.

As I said, Lass' presentation is rigorous and assumes prior training in linguistics, at least some knowledge of general linguistics and then some acquaintance with the comparative method.
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