ENG6361H: Assignment #2

OE-PDE transliteration and commentary (25%)

This assignment is designed to help you

-translate an OE prose text

-identify similarities and differences between OE and PDE:

lexis, spelling, syntax, and paradigms

  1. Study one of the following passages from A.G. Rigg's The English Language: a Historical Reader (on short-term loan):

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

-page 97: verses 19-23 of the Old English translation of Luke 20 (text XI)

Rigg is also on UTEL:Rigg online

-follow the "History of English" link

-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.,  75;) disappeared completely. I think this has something to do with the browser. So I would really recommend using the hard copy.

I deliberately haven't provided the texts for you, because I want to force you to look at Rigg's book & its introduction.

2. Following the model in the attached 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 adverb g|eo|rne `eagerly' -> y|e|rn, a word which is in the OED.

(b) grammatical information: 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) Definitions and glosses in OE dictionaries. For example, you can find the OE adverb georne in Bosworth-Toller's Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: the definition is useful, but the entry doesn't mention "yearning". However, under the related adjective georn, the Gothic cognate is glossed as "yearning for". 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 ...").

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 secti ons: (a) spellings (try to distinguish between orthographic changes that reflect changes in pronunciation from those that don't), (b) syntax, (c) paradigms, and (d) vocabulary (word-formation, semantic change, later replacements). Each of these sections s hould be given approximately equal weight. You'll have to be selective, especially with the vocabulary. Try to be selective yet representative.

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]", "several OE w ords no longer exist; we express what they denote with borrowings from Scandinavian: [examples]".