ENG367Y—OE-PDE transliteration and commentary (15%)


Due 5th March, 6pm.

This assignment is designed to help you

-translate an OE prose text

-identify similarities and differences between OE and PDE: lexis, spelling, syntax, & paradigms


1.      Study one of the following passages from A.G. Rigg's The English Language: a Historical Reader:

            -page 61: verses 1-5 of the Old English translation of Numbers 11 (text IV)

            -page 80: verses 26-30 of the Old English translation of Matthew 6 (text VIII)


Rigg is also on UTEL: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/language/rigg/rigg_titlepage.html

            -it is possible that you might have problems reading/downloading it. In the past, a few of my students have found that special characters (e.g., þ) and letters with accents (e.g., ē) disappeared completely. I think this has something to do with the browser. So I would really recommend using the hard copy.


2. Following the model in the handout, “transliterate” the OE text:

            if the OE word (or part of it) has a direct PDE reflex, write that PDE reflex above the OE word:

                        e.g., þæt = that; sume = some, = to, on = on. Even if the meaning has changed!

            if it doesn't, translate the OE word, putting your PDE translation in brackets:

                        e.g., heora (their); hēo (she); nāmon (took).


Some ways of identifying the PDE reflex of an OE word:

            (a) the principles of correspondence: the OE noun lāre -> lore; fāer -> fear; the OE adverb g|eo|rne `eagerly' -> y|e|rne (a word which is in the OED!).

            (b) grammatical information: a little later in the course, you'll be able to tell that gescōp is the 3 sg. past tense of a class 6 strong verb, whose infinitive is sc|a|p|an. Use the principles of correspondence to generate sh|a|p|e!

            (c) Spellings, definitions and glosses in dictionaries. For example, if you look up fear in the OED, the spelling “1 fāer” will confirm that the spelling faer was current through the eleventh century (remember that 2 = 12th century, 3 = 13th, etc.). And if you look up yerne in the OED, it will confirm that 3eorne was an attested spelling in the OE period (1). But if you want to confirm that yerne is related to the verb yearn, read the OED's etymology. Yerne will cross-reference you to the adjective yern, which will cross-reference you to the verb yearn (which lists spellings attested in the OE period: "1- ... geornan ...").

You will need to use dictionaries and grammars/overviews of Old English. Many of these are on short-term loan, on the 9th floor of the Robarts Library. See the secondary reading list for titles.


3.      In an essay of no more than 2000 words, write a systematic summary of the differences between OE and PDE that your transliteration of the passage happens to illustrate.  Your essay should be divided into the following sections: (a) spellings (try to distinguish between orthographic changes that reflect changes in pronunciation from those that don't), (b) syntax (word order), (c) paradigms (inflexions), and (d) vocabulary (word-formation, semantic change, later replacements). Each of these sections should be given approximately equal weight.  You'll have to be selective, especially with the vocabulary.  Try to be selective yet representative.  With the vocabulary, try to strike a balance between generalizations (“several OE words no longer exist; we express what they denote with borrowings from French: [exx]”) and subtle and sophisticated interpretation of a few specific words.


You'll find Rigg's "specimen analysis" (18ff) useful, but I don't want points and charts: I want a prose synthesis. E.g., "case distinctions in some parts of the personal pronoun system have been levelled: [examples]".


YOU MUST WORK ALONE ON THIS ASSIGNMENT. It is an academic offence “to represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic  … work” (Faculty of Arts and Science Calendar).