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An Introduction to Old English [Hardcover]

Peter S. Baker
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 70.00
Price: 67.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

22 May 2003 0631234535 978-0631234531
This innovative introduction to the Old English language focuses on what students need to know in order to engage with Old English literary and historical texts.
  • A pioneering introduction to Old English designed for a new generation of students.
  • Assumes no expertise in other languages or in traditional grammar.
  • Opening chapters and ′Quick Start′ sections cover the basics.
  • ′Minitexts′ give students practice in reading Old English.
  • Includes two chapters on syntax and three on reading poetry.
  • Anthologises fourteen readings, including ′The Wanderer′, ′The Dream of the Rood′ and ′Judith′.
  • The accompanying ′Old English Aerobics′ website features additional readings and exercises.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (22 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631234535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631234531
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 733,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"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 <!––end––>

"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

"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

From the Back Cover

This innovative introduction to the Old English language focuses on what students need to know in order to engage with Old English literary and historical texts. Designed for a new generation, the book assumes no expertise in traditional grammar or in other languages.

An opening chapter reviews basic grammar for those who need to be brought up to speed. ‘Quick Start’ sections begin the major chapters, allowing students to learn the basics of Old English quickly. ‘Minitexts’ accompanying most chapters give students practice in reading the language, while a detailed introduction to poetic meter and style helps them to read poetry. The book as a whole contains more than 200 illustrative quotations, fourteen Old English readings including ‘The Wanderer’, ‘The Dream of the Rood’ and ‘Judith’, and a comprehensive glossary. Supplementary readings and exercises are available at the ‘Old English Aerobics’ website – http://www.engl.virginia.edu/OE/OEA/ – which complements the text.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
'Anglo-Saxon' is the term applied to the English-speaking inhabitants of Britain up to the time of the Norman Conquest, when the Anglo-Saxon line of English kings came to an end. Read the first page
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Concordance
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
As a learning tool, Peter S. Baker's Introduction to Old English succeeds marvellously in that it is concise and clear without erring on the side of oversimplification. The ordering of chapters is intuitive and the key concepts are easily accreted along the way; in comparatively little time readers will acquire a wealth of knowledge, and in its practicality the book is sure not to intimidate the uninitiated.
The basic review of English grammar is both thorough and efficient without being overly pedantic. Unfortunately, more and more students of English are finding themselves ill-equipped and poorly acquainted with the basics of grammar. Baker's review will familiarize them with the grammatical essentials while simultaneously providing a useful review to those more accustomed to them. There is sufficient treatment of the main topics in the text without any superfluous explication that might confuse the introductory reader. Baker's plain English explanations are unambiguous and, where possible, he offers Modern English correlates and analogues that effectively frame the linguistic topic being discussed.
The chapters on the style and grammar of poetry are essential resources. Poetry makes up such a significant part of the extant Anglo-Saxon literature that it would be a failure on the part of the author to leave the student stranded in the intricacies of the form. Taking the chapter on reading manuscripts into consideration, as well as the appendices, Baker helps the student build a truly solid foundation upon which to base further study. The glossary, for example, allows students who are as yet unfamiliar Anglo-Saxon word forms to easily find what they are looking for, and will furnish them with the skills they need to approach more ambitious dictionaries.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for the beginner 24 Sep 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having been stumped by Bruce Mitchell's Old English primers, I had hoped that this would offer a less daunting approach, but sadly I found it much the same standard. The book states that it avoids technical jargon but this is not the case, and the fact that the author is American means that the pronunciation guide refers to General American rather than RP. The online exercises and readings are not 'supplementary' but a core part of the book, and if you don't have the right sort of software you're stuck. There's one answer to all this - get one Stephen Pollington's books instead! They are ideal for the beginner and ensure rapid progress with Old English. With Baker you don't stand a chance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing 25 May 2010
By JB TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Be warned: this is probably not the book to start with if you are a complete beginner. The chapters on grammar might be overwhelming and the "minitexts" for translation - scattered throughtout the book - come with no translations of their own. Better for the initial stage is Beginning Old English

However, if you have already leaped the first few fences in the study of Old English, then you will find this book both absorbing and rewarding.

Baker is authoritative on the grammar of poetry particularly, but the essential substance of the book is a thorough grounding in the subject, and though work is required, the payback is worth the effort.

Facsimiles are included, together with an anthology of key texts. In the end the reader begins to realise the wisdom of the policy of not providing translations; this book requires you to think for yourself, and equipped with the instruction of the opening chapters it's perfectly possible to acquire sufficient skills to negotiate even the most abstruse pieces of Old English. (The subject of translation is a somewhat sticky one, but this book skillfully bypasses these areas and puts the onus on the student to make up his or her own mind.)

The website links are largely irrelevant, an uneccessary gimmick. Concentrate on the words on the page. They are well worth reading.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
As a learning tool, Peter S. Baker's Introduction to Old English succeeds marvellously in that it is concise and clear without erring on the side of oversimplification. The ordering of chapters is intuitive and the key concepts are easily accreted along the way; in comparatively little time readers will acquire a wealth of knowledge, and in its practicality the book is sure not to intimidate the uninitiated.
The basic review of English grammar is both thorough and efficient without being overly pedantic. Unfortunately, more and more students of English are finding themselves ill-equipped and poorly acquainted with the basics of grammar. Baker's review will familiarize them with the grammatical essentials while simultaneously providing a useful review to those more accustomed to them. There is sufficient treatment of the main topics in the text without any superfluous explication that might confuse the introductory reader. Baker's plain English explanations are unambiguous and, where possible, he offers Modern English correlates and analogues that effectively frame the linguistic topic being discussed.
The chapters on the style and grammar of poetry are essential resources. Poetry makes up such a significant part of the extant Anglo-Saxon literature that it would be a failure on the part of the author to leave the student stranded in the intricacies of the form. Taking the chapter on reading manuscripts into consideration, as well as the appendices, Baker helps the student build a truly solid foundation upon which to base further study. The glossary, for example, allows students who are as yet unfamiliar Anglo-Saxon word forms to easily find what they are looking for, and will furnish them with the skills they need to approach more ambitious dictionaries.
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