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A Gentle Introduction to Old English 

A Gentle Introduction to Old English

Written by: Murray McGillivray

Publication Date: December 21, 2010
208pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551118413 / 1551118416

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This book is designed to ease the beginner into competent reading of Old English texts. It presents the essential points of Old English grammar and also includes a selection of short, relatively simple original language texts, glossed and annotated. Numerous practice exercises are also included throughout. A companion website includes additional interactive exercises, a fuller grammar, and further original language texts.


“If the magister in Ælfric's Colloquy shows himself more than willing to apply the rod, teachers of Old English today, one hopes, have carrots to entice modern students, as well as sticks with which to discipline them. Murray McGillivray’s Gentle Introduction to Old English brings a refreshing perspective on the traditional carrots (actual Old English readings) and sticks (paradigms to memorize) that have long characterized the teaching of Old English. McGillivray’s approach should ease modern students into the grammatical paradigms of Anglo-Saxon that have long frightened many a beginning learner of the language. And the readers who make it to the end will have also made it through the whole of Ælfric’s Colloquy, and thus, one hopes, enjoy the rewards of the reading while having endured a lesser pain from the paradigms themselves than many an earlier generation of students.” - Thomas Bredehoft, West Virginia University

“This timely and welcome textbook fields the neglected middle ground where twenty-first-century students of Old English increasingly huddle: eager, culturally savvy, but unaware of the rudiments of linguistic terminology, even if they have fluency in modern languages. This introduction is not a petting zoo of artificial, defanged texts along the lines of otherwise excellent introductions of fifty years ago, but anticipates students’ most frequently asked questions as well as organizing the syntactic and morphological fauna with which they most need to be acquainted before going on safari in the next generation of edited texts.” - Mary Blockley, University of Texas at Austin

Murray McGillivray is Professor of English at the University of Calgary.

Special Combination Price: This book may be shrink-wrapped together with McGillivray's companion text, Old English Reader, for the discounted price of $59.95. To order this package, please contact Customer Service at [email protected].

Supplementary Materials: [Back to Top]
This text comes with access to a companion website featuring a wide variety of additional resources, including pronounciation samples, additional interactive exercises, and online versions of the reading texts where each word can be clicked on in turn to get the corresponding glossary entry.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]

Simple Grammar
Pronunciation and Spelling
Introduction to Strong Nouns and Cases
Verbs and Personal Pronouns
Weak Verbs
Strong Nouns and Cases
Strong Verbs
Weak and Odd Nouns
Word Order

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A Gentle Introduction to Old English

2010 • 208pp • Paperback • 9781551118413 / 1551118416

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.