- Hardcover: 290 pages
- Publisher: Stanford University Press (September 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0804714541
- ISBN-13: 978-0804714549
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,244,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Old English and Its Closest Relatives: A Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Featured world language titles
Sponsored by McGraw-Hill Learn more.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
"The task of writing a book like Robinson's is very difficult. His contains much to be admired and is a worthy handbook ... Good students can learn much from the wealth of information in the present work, and it is to be recommended to them." (Journal of English and Germanic Philology)
"Orin W. Robinson's Old English and its closest relatives makes an extremely valuable contribution to the group of texts that specialists in one or more of the historical Germanic dialects can safely rely upon for introducing students to comparative Germanic historical linguistics." (American Journal of Germanic Linguistics)
"This book certainly fills a gap. Without it, one would have to assemble a set of handbooks of the old dialects. These would have the disadvantage of various degrees of outdatedness and divergent arrangement of materials. Robinson brings the grammatical material into alignment in a manageable number of features, selected for their significance as means of comparison. . . . The readings give some impression of the variety of language and genre, while the tribal histories add a touch of life to a possibly dry topic. . . . The focus of the work is linguistic, and in this respect there is much to admire in the selection and parallel organization of the material." (Seminar)
"General textbooks introducing the Germanic languages are scarce. This work claims to provide a resource available to monolingual English speakers with a minimal background in linguistics. The task seems hardly possible, but Robinson accomplishes it and he does so with flying colors. . . . In general, Robinson's text is pedagogically sound and definitely recommended either on the undergraduate level or in an introductory class for graduate students filling in a linguistics requirement." (Scandanavian Studies)
“This well-structured, terse account of the early Germanic languages fills an obvious gap in reference books on historical linguistics. Striking an excellent balance between readability for the nonspecialist and sufficient detail for classroom usage, the volume begins with a straightforward chapter on the background of English and German in the Germanic family of languages and the Indo-European system at large. . . . Extremely useful for linguistics and medieval literature courses at all levels; belongs in all college and university libraries.”―Humanities
"There is much to be valued in this book, the strength of which lies in bringing together representative texts and concise but generally informative discussions of historical background, grammar, versification, and the like, and unified by chapters on the Germanic language family and its grammatical system." (Germanic Notes and Reviews)
"This generally engaging work is well-thought out and well-organized. . . . Robinson has written [a book] that deserves attention." (Colloquia Germanica)
"[Old English and its closest relatives] is well designed and well written. It is thorough, yet not too encumbered by linguistic facts and linguistic jargon. . . . [Robinson's] goal, to introduce the reader to the earliest Germanic languages and their interdialectal relations, has been masterfully accomplished." (The German Quarterly)
"The execution of Old English and its closest relatives is workmanlike and conscientious. It is appropriate as a textbook for students who have had no prior exposure to [the Germanic] discipline and who require only a general introduction; it will certainly appeal to the curious lay reader. The book's serviceability in the classroom is assured in a sense for the simple reason that there is no other single work that covers the material summarily." (Language)
"Robinson has produced a highly useful book. Designed for an "Introduction to Germanic Languages" course, it will also be a welcome supplement for courses in the history of English, German, and the other Germanic languages. . . . [A] book that instructors would be wise to bring to the attention of students, since it will contribute clarity as well as understanding of important matters in philology and linguistics, in addition to the opportunity for ready introduction to the early Germanic languages. Instructors as well as students will be grateful to Robinson. . . ." (Michigan Germanic Studies) --This text refers to the Digital edition.
From the Inside Flap
How do we account for these similarities? The generally accepted explanation is that English and German are divergent continuations of a common ancestor, a Germanic language now lost. This book surveys the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the earliest kown Germanic languages, members of what has traditionally been known as the English family tree: Gothic, Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old English, Old Frisian, Old Low Franconian, and Old High German.
For each language, the author provides a brief history of the people who spoke it, an overview of the important texts in the language, sample passages with full glossary and word-by-word translations, a section on orthography and grammar, and discussion of linguistic or philological topics relevant to all the early Germanic languaes but best exemplified by the particular language under consideration. These topics inclued the pronunciation of older languages; the runic inscriptions; Germanic alliterative pietry; historical syntax, borrowing, analogy, and drift; textual transmission; and dialect variation.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
For example -- here is a phrase in Old Frisian, which is a Germanic language that only grad students have ever heard of. The phrase is this, ""Thu skalt erja thinne feder and thine moder, thet tu theste langor libbe." Look familiar? If your life has ever brought you into contact with the Ten Commandments, it might remind you of the phrase "Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother, that you might longer live." That's good if you make that connection, because that's what it means. That isn't even in English! Isn't that cool?!?! The whole book is full of things like that.
In terms of layout, Robinson begins with two introductory chapters in which he walks us through some of the more salient ideas in historical linguistics. The second chapter is very important to understand the bulk of the book. Please dwell on it, and try to read it through at least twice before moving on. Seriously, do this, it will only help. Then there are seven chapters on seven "dialects" of Proto-Germanic, followed up by an interesting little chapter on some controversial issues over which scholars wrangle. Each chapter has several recommendations for further reading at the end of the chapter. I myself have only tried out the recommendation for two of the chapters, Old Frisian an Old Norse, but Robinson's recommendations were terrific for me.
One thing I need to mention -- there is a chart of correspondences in sounds and grammar, on pages 250-251. Somehow, this chart was left out of the table of contents. It is very helpful -- you might want to dog-ear page 250, so you can always find it easily for quick reference, as you're going through each chapter.
Anyway, this book is great for the undergrad linguist, or for any armchair time traveller. Two thumbs up!
The book summarizes the main common characteristics of the ancient Germanic languages, then moves on to describe 7 different languages individually. For each language the author describes significant features of its history, phonetics, and grammar. Moreover, for each language, a few short texts are presented to the reader. They are accompanied by a glossary with examples of words from modern English and German to ease the understanding of the words in the text. After the text a thorough vocabulary follows, where all the words are translated into English. Finally, at the end of the book there is complete translation of each text.
The book is clearly based on strict linguistic principles and methods, it's well-structured, and the author is able to keep the balance and avoid too many details - after all, the aim is to give a comparative survey of the language family. But most important, the author isn't just a scholar - he also knows how to teach.
I won't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone interested in comparative linguistics and the history of the Indo-European languages. However, knowledge of modern German is clearly an advantage when reading the text samples.
I particularly appreciate the discussion of Old Low Franconian (= Old Dutch, Old Netherlandic), the predecessor of modern Dutch that is the mother tongue of more than 20 million speakers in the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium).
Although there are very few extant texts in OLF this language has undergone few sound changes (compared to e.g. OE or OHG) and therefore is very well suited for the comparative linguistic discipline.