on 11 September 2011
This is currently the best introduction to Old English (though I have not yet seen McGillivray's "Gentle Introduction to Old English). Pollington has taken Mitchell & Robinson's "Guide to Old English" and greatly simplified it, making a complicated grammar easy and fun to learn. This has two benefits: it encourages the student to master the basics which are presented in a daunting manner by Mitchell & Robinson; and, when the student dips into Mitchell & Robinson (and all serious students will do so at some point), much of their book will now appear more clear thanks to Pollington's thorough explanations. Highly recommended. The only other book which comes close is Mark Atherton's "Teach Yourself Old English". This approaches the subject as if it were a modern language and is not nearly as thorough in covering the grammar.
on 19 December 2009
I don't think any beginner in Anglo-Saxon could do better than this book.
I've been putting some Anglo-Saxon lessons on my website, and I bought this to compare with what I've produced. After reading it, I don't think I'll be doing any more lessons - in future I'll just be redirecting my Anglo-Saxon enthusiasts to this book!
on 30 November 2010
This is an interesting and well laid out book - as yet I am only on Ch. 3, partly because being 64 learning takes longer! I have been very surprised to find how hard it is to learn a language with no clue on pronouncing its vocabulary though, I had no idea that was such an integral part of language study. So, there is a useful section on vowel and consonant pronunciation, but I will definitely be investing in the OE cd's by Mr Pollington.
on 2 November 2002
Old English is a very difficult language to approach for the first time - to the beginner it may seem no less difficult than Latin or Greek. This guide is a very helpful companion for the student of Old English and can be used effectively to ease much of the confusion that the beginner may experience on first encountering the language. Although I believe it is a bit overpriced, if you have the money to spend, you will find this helpful.
on 17 April 2014
I bought this and the accompanying CD because I wanted to learn Old English, and there is much to praise in both the book and the CD. You do have to work out for yourself where things are and how they relate between the two, but that isn't onerous, and it is really important to be able to hear as well as see the words and texts. I haven't worked through all the sections yet but felt I needed to make a comment now, on reaching sections 4 and 5, about some discrepancies and confusions. This is when it is important to have an additional source to which to refer, to clarify anything that isn't clear (and occasionally there are things that are not) and to make sure that everything is actually correct. I struggled to understand the old English numbering system, and realised in the end that there are errors that should certainly have been picked up on by the editor, and which can send the student round in circles, trying to grasp the logic, when in fact it is simply an error. This came to light as I attempted the exercises, and found that however closely I followed Pollington's explanation, I could not arrive at the answer he gave for some of them! Once I decided that the explanation itself was in error, I could get on and succeed in the exercises. But I need another source to make sure I have the correct numbers (or grammatical construction - it isn't only one or two numbers that are wrong, unfortunately) and I am currently assessing the available sources to decide on one. So - there are errors that should most certainly have been eliminated at the editing stage, and that is a great shame because it throws doubt on all the rest, which is probably otherwise completely sound. It does illustrate the importance of having more than a single source of information, not only because you need to be sure you have correct information, not corrupted by errors of whatever kind, but also because another writer's approach to explanation can help very much. Getting the same information from two directions, in other words, can be very helpful indeed. I am not sorry I bought this book and CD, but I do realise that one source is not enough.
on 30 November 2014
I came to this book not from a need to complete an academic syllabus but for my own enrichment. Undoubtedly it would be easier to use a textbook like this with a human teacher to explain, enlarge, answer questions and model the exact accent. However it gave me all I needed. Of course I shall never be speaking the language to anyone but it has made early English writing more accessible and helped me to enjoy more the sound of the words themselves - no small issue with a literature that is often alliterative. It was fascinating too to see where so many of our modern English words come from and how little many of them have changed. When the sentences are heard aloud and followed in the text there is almost no difficulty in understanding. For the record, I also bought the audio CD that goes with this book and it helped greatly with pronunciation. If you buy this book I suggest you consider doing the same.
on 26 February 2014
I studied OE at university a long time ago and bought this book to refresh my memory. Unlike my dry old OE primer, this really is easy to follow step-by-step, with short sections, good explanations, exercises to check progress and texts at the end. However, I think the grammatical terms could be difficult for anyone who has not had any experience of language-learning.