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Teach Yourself Old English Book/CD Pack (Teach Yourself Complete Courses) Paperback – 29 Sep 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Teach Yourself (29 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340915056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340915059
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 850,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

A book/CD pack, 'Teach Yourself Old English (Anglo-Saxon)' will be the first choice for independent adults wanting a self-access course.

About the Author

Dr Mark Atherton is Tutor in Old and Middle English at Regent's Park College, Oxford. He has taught English as a Foreign Language at universities in Germany and Belgium, and German and French to English speakers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Exlancs on 7 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
So why does this particular Old English course stand out from the rest? Often an Old English course is very grammar-intense and the learner is faced with learning all kinds of grammatical structures arranged in tables. Not so this course. The very first unit presents the learner with a genuine piece of Old English (from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), so we come face to face with genuine Old English from the start. Supporting the linguistic information is plenty of interesting detail about Anglo-Saxon life in general and information on the source texts. A highly recommended first course for anyone wishing to delve into the treasures of the bedrock of our language.
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Michael Webb on 15 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
Of the several Old English primers I have tried, this volume in the "Teach Yourself" series stands head and shoulders above its rivals. The language is introduced as a medium of communication from the very first chapter. Grammar is not skimped, but is introduced throughout the course as required to understand the texts, which is a much easier way for a non-linguist (such as myself) to learn than the classical method in which one is presented with table after table of grammatical forms before ever encountering an actual text. The latter method may be appropriate for the dedicated language student, but it is very hard going for those of us who love this most beautiful and expressive of languages, and would like to learn enough to deepen our appreciation, but who lack the resources of the full time student.
The texts are well chosen to illustrate important aspects of Anglo saxon cultural life, and supported by interesting expanatory cultural notes. One particular highlight is the CD accompanying the book - after all, the language was used in a strongly oral culture, and it is wonderful to hear reasonable length extracts read aloud, rather than the one sentence sound bites that accompany some courses. I particularly liked the use of two speakers, one of whom is a woman - it is so rare to hear a female speaker of Old English, and it sounds wonderful to my ear.
In summary, I could not recommend this book more highly. Dr Atherton has done a great job of making Old English more accessible to the non specialist. This book will give a good grounding in the basics, from which the student will be well equipped to broaden their study. I only wish that he and his lady colleague on the CD could be persuaded to produce a follow-on volume with more examples of Old English material from a broad range of sources and times.
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Alex on 16 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
If, like me, you are a complete novice, not particularly experienced in learning foreign languages, and just felt you wanted to start dipping your toe into the rich linguistic heritage of modern English, then this is the book for you!

I bought it due to the previous review on Amazon, and it was perfect - gets you reading simple sections very quickly, with interesting historical notes giving you a feel for the culture. The grammar is not at all heavy, and perfectly understandable for a non-linguist. The accompanying CD make pronunciation a whole lot easier, but is not necessary if you just want to get going on reading.

Other books I have looked at since would have been totally impenetrable if I hadn't started with this one!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. O. Jones on 19 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book wasn't available when I took it into my head to learn OE, so I started with Steve Pollington's excellent "First Steps in Old English". Having now progressed to Atherton's course, I would say in retrospect that I'm glad I started with Pollington's book, because it contains no greater amount of intimidating grammatical jargon than Atherton's and relies primarily on pieces written by Pollington, starting very basic (e.g. "The king rides the horse") and culminating in translation exercises of actual OE texts; for me, a comfortably gradual increase in difficulty level.

Obviously then, I can't comment on what it's like to have your first experience with OE through Atherton's book, but as someone unfortunately lacking any innate aptitude for languages, I think I would find Pollington's approach easier than Atherton's, who launches straight into an actual OE text containing past tenses, spelling variants, various unfamiliar case endings, etc (perhaps unreasonably, my sole reason for docking a star).

That's not to say Atherton's book isn't very good; the advantages of this package are as previous reviewers have stated: i)the use of actual OE texts giving an immediate and visceral appreciation of the language, ii)the accompanying CD to demonstrate pronounciation (can you read words without knowing how to pronounce them?), iii)the additional information regarding Dark Age society (of which Pollington's contains comparatively little). Barring Pollington's book, it's the best introduction I've seen.

I personally would therefore recommend Atherton's book as a follow up once you've mastered the basics of OE, but if you're adept at languages, then you should also find it an engaging and linguistically comprehensible first introduction.
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