ENG367Y: Comparing Old English with Present-Day English (10%)

27th October: I've clarified (I hope) some of the instructions in BOLD face.

Due:                 11 November 2004

Hand in:            At the beginning of class to CP

Late?                To CP’s mailbox at the Wetmore Hall Porter, New College

                                    Porter’s hours: off for lunch 11:30-12:30, dinner 6:30-7:30

Late penalty: 2% off for each day late; not accepted after 25 November.

This assignment is designed to demonstrate your ability to

1. Pick one of the following passages from the Millward workbook:

2. In an essay of around 2000 words, write a description of the differences between OE and PDE that your passage happens to illustrate. (Do not write about any trend that is not exemplified in your passage, as you will not be given credit for it.) In about 500 words each, cover the following sections

  1. Spelling and sounds, as relevant to OE spelling and/or differences between OE and PDE spelling
  2. Syntax (word order)
  3. Morphology (grammatical inflections)
  4. Vocabulary. Here you will have the most opportunity to do interesting research. However, you’ll also have to be selective: try to strike a balance between generalizations and a few clear and sophisticated stories about a few specific words. Consider both

Getting started

As you start to work on your assignment, it will help to consider the following questions:

Secondary sources

Crystal chapter 9 is useful when you’re considering ‘the sources of the lexicon’, PDE and OE. But at this point you will need to consult some historical dictionaries. Have the words always been in English? Or were they borrowed into OE or created in OE? What did they mean?

We will be learning how to use the Oxford English Dictionary very soon. There are hard copies of the first and second editions around (and OE hasn’t changed much in the last ten centuries), but U of T has finally subscribed to the online constantly-updated third edition at http://www.oed.com/  There are also dictionaries of Old English around; the most accessible one for you at this point is ‘Clark-Hall’, on short term loan [PE 279 H3].

When citing a dictionary for work in this course, please

·   In your bibliography, give a full reference to it (and to all other works consulted and cited).

· In the text of your paper, cite it by ‘short title’, ‘headword,’ and sense number. E.g., OED, “worm, n.” I 5b.

For the spelling, morphology, and syntax, you may want to corroborate your observations with authoritative descriptions in secondary sources. Start with Crystal and Millward. There are also more books, many on short-term loan (Robarts library, 3rd floor); many of these are listed in a slightly outdated online bibliography at


What are we looking for?

Your response will be marked for

Try not to be overwhelmed by all of these instructions – I’m just trying to anticipate what you might need to know.