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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to the next edition, 31 May 2009
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This review is from: Old English: A Linguistic Introduction (Cambridge Introductions to the English Language) (Paperback)
The strength of this guide to Old English is Smith's ability to summarize the basic concepts for total beginners. He assumes no previous knowledge of German, Latin, philology or phonetics, and proceeds to lead readers by the hand through all the elementary points needed to describe language and its evolution. Chapters 1-3 are particularly pedagogical, covering basic ideas which will be dealt with in more detail in chapters 4-7.

That's where the going gets rough, however. There's a gulf between the ignorance assumed in the opening chapters and the abilities required to follow the later ones. Reading the brisk discussion of "sound-change" in "e>i", for example, neophytes will wonder what is changing to what in "helpan" (what was the Indo-European? the Germanic? the West Germanic?). Presumably, teachers are supposed to fill in the blanks.

The inclusion of literary excerpts with an extensive glossary help make this book a course in its own right, and Smith has an impressively artful way of acknowledging controversy over certain points while leading students to the essential information they need.

There are a few misprints, but Cambridge offers a website with additional resources, so we can assume they will be progressively corrected.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 11 May 2013
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This review is from: Old English: A Linguistic Introduction (Cambridge Introductions to the English Language) (Paperback)
A great book by Prof. Smith. Always well explained and easy to follow. A great companion for the students of English Language and the History of English!
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