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on 19 November 2010
This book provides a pleasantly easy way in to learning Old English, particularly for someone (like myself) who has never been particularly good at languages, and hasn't tried to learn one in over 15 years. It is clearly organized and attractively presented, and includes historical context as well as pointing out the links between Old English words and grammar and their modern English equivalents, which makes them easier to learn as well as being fascinating in its own right.

The book is structured into units with "test yourself" sections at the end; grammar is introduced gradually. This means one isn't overwhelmed with tables of tenses and word endings, which is a particular bonus for anyone who finds inflected languages tricky to get to grips with. On the other hand, if you're perfectly comfortable with nominatives, accusatives, genitives, and so forth, and want to learn declensions straight away, this probably isn't the book for you.

I find that this book's approach suits my learning style extremely well. For the more academically-inclined, it may be too much of a "beginner's guide". In one or two places I found myself wondering why certain endings differed long before they were explained, and I do think the book would benefit from a small series of tables of the basic endings, to go along with its list of vocabulary at the back. This is the main reason I'm giving it 4 rather than 5 stars; plus, it's on the pricey side, but then again most books on a topic of such minority interest tend to be.
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on 18 December 2010
I share the other reviewer's minor reservations, but it still remains the most accessible introduction to OE for anyone who has not endured the grammar-translation approach. To complement it I also bought First Steps in Old English and I find the two books work well in tandem. It's well worth buying the book/CD set, as this gives you an accurate aural idea of the pronunciation. The source materials and the details about the history/context also give you a valuable historical/political angle.
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on 8 August 2012
Dr. Atherton has crafted a clever and beautiful book here. From the very start you begin to read real Anglo-Saxon lifted from actual texts, the choice of text highlighting some point within the language he wishes you to grasp. Along the way insights are given to the cultural and historical background of the language and indeed to the structure of language generally. With every page I turned I found myself discovering something new and enlightening. The accompanying recordings were invaluable in getting a grasp of how the language sounded and in giving confidence to speaking it aloud oneself. I found many of the old English texts really had to be heard in this manner to be fully appreciated. As with all books of course, the teaching style may not suit everyone. As a balance I would also heartily recommend Stephen Pollington's book 'First Steps in Old English' which can be read easily in conjunction with this book and makes an excellent companion.
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on 18 September 2011
I don't want to discourage people from buying this introduction to Anglo-Saxon, but I do want to encourage them to get the edition with the CD, not just the paperback. The issue is with the pronunciation of the texts. The pronunciation guide in this book is inadequate. I know that it's hard to convey the sounds of one language, in print, in another language (although that shouldn't be so hard in this case, between Old and Modern English), but the problem lies in the failure to identify the correct pronunciation in tricky places, e.g. where "c" is pronounced "ch" and where "k". The vocabulary lists include pronunciation guides, but not for all words, and it's the problem words which are skated over. Just as an example: in Unit 10, we are told that Anglo-Saxon "hid" is pronounced "heed", but not how "aecer" is pronounced.

I imagine that most people reading this book have two aims: to be able to read Anglo-Saxon easily and to be able to pronounce the sounds fluently, to know how the original texts sounded. By itself, the paperback fails on the latter, but is a good guide to the former. I really can't pretend to understand the point of the introductory sections, such as "Only got five minutes?" The texts used throughout, however, are authentic; no "Cotta and Balbus are attacking the ditches" stuff here. If you don't get your interest piqued by the historical context passages in this book, then you're probably learning the wrong language.

The word index does not contain all of the words used in the texts (and I am taking into account inflections of nouns, adjectives and pronouns and conjugations of verbs). I agree with another criticism of this book, which is common to all the Teach Yourself books I have used: there is no summary of the grammar at the back of the book.

You probably will eventually need an Anglo-Saxon grammar and an Anglo-Saxon dictionary, in addition to this book, but, right now, for a beginner in Anglo-Saxon, getting the book WITH the CD is the important thing. As far as I know, the CD isn't available to purchase separately.
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on 21 April 2013
For those of you who tried to work through the Sweets Anglo-Saxon Primer, this approach leaves you with none of the problems of the former. This course has audio material to allow for better understanding of the pronunciation of the language. After mastering this material, one can go on to use Sweet's or other grammars for a more detailed mastery of the language. This is a perfect course to get started.
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on 1 May 2014
Now works on Kindle Fire HDX 8.9! Brilliant. The male and female speakers speak clearly and at a reasonable speed. Links between units are good. It looks an engrossing and exciting course, and handy if you're short on time, or have a short attention span. It's fascinating to look back to the roots of your language. Go for it!

JC Penrith
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on 10 December 2012
This claims to be for beginners and the author, rightly IMO, advises the user to pronounce the language out loud. However he fails to mark the long vowels (e.g. wīf, 'wife, woman') and the palatalised versions of 'c' and 'g', even in the final glossary. This is standard practise in all learners' materials and many editions of texts. Modern English is not a reliable guide to these things, so any beginner who tries to pronounce the exercises will make many unavoidable mistakes, and these will be difficult to correct later. This book is therefore only useful for someone who wants to read OE silently, for the sense rather than the sound. OK perhaps for prose texts (but even there some words are only distinguished by vowel length), but hopeless for poetry. What could the author have been thinking?
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on 5 July 2013
I love reading this and reciting snippets of Ænglisc. It's a great experience to be able to connect to your roots; especially given how pure and advanced the spelling system was at this stage in the language, and before it was littered with Romance terms and Norman borrowings.

However, I find it disappointing that the pronunciation of the Ænglisc is very modernised. The speakers even use a non-rhotic accent, giving you additional need to build your own pronunciation system as you can't adopt the speaker's (the evils of learning long dead dialects).

But it is fun, and very interesting.
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on 11 April 2013
This is a really nice book on a subject that is difficult to find sources from (i.e a complete beginners guide. I would recommend that you get the CD audio guide with it.
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on 27 December 2015
This is a book in the "teach yourself"-series, so aimed at the autodidact that has no teacher at hand. Other authors meet the shortcomings of Anglo-Saxon spelling by adding mācrons to the lōng vowels, so the student at least an see the difference between words, even if he doesn't master the language. Atherton refuses to do so, without spending a word to explaining why. For most vowels, the pronunciation section of the book doesn't clarify the differene at all between long and short versions of the vowel, and the only pair that gets such an explanation ([i/i:]) is attributed a qualitative diference rather than a quantitative one. Again, the author does not explain why. The audio does not help you out here: the pronunciation by the two speakers is inconsistent with each other and with the treatment in the book.

Therefore, you will need a modern wordlist and a better introduction to the pronunciation in addition to this book.

The good thing of the book are the texts that are well selected and quite interesting.
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