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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.
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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!
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on 2 February 2016
As a complete novice to the subject,I have started with this and the accompanying poems and prose book.
I have a long way to go?
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on 19 May 2017
Up to expectations but need accompanying cd to understand pronunciation.
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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.
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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.
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on 15 June 2011
This book is a wonderful start point in Old English. It took me some time to find and decide on the book I wanted to start with and I am delighted with my choice.

I bought both the book and the CD and I think that the CD is critical from the point of view of pronunciation.
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on 16 January 2012
This is an essential companion to Stephen Pollington's book "First Steps in Old English". It is only by hearing readings from the book (and other texts) that you will understand how Anglo-Saxon was pronounced. It's a beautiful language and hearing it spoken is a great pleasure.
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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.
Charlie Friel.
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on 12 January 2017
Even if you plan on teaching yourself just the bare minimum of Old English, this book is already way too complicated. For starters, it's almost entirely written in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) and I was never really sure if I was pronouncing the text correctly or not. The book mentions that there is a CD that you can buy separately if you want to hear what some of the texts are supposed to sound like. If you're a linguist and you're familiar with IPA then you might understand it better than most. If like me, you're just an enthusiast that wants to learn the odd word or two and learn how to read and pronunciate a text written in Old English, this book won't help you. I returned this book the day after I received it.
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