32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Buy the one with the CD
, 18 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Complete Old English: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
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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