Old English textbook/readers

By NubusLatinae1770, in 'Other Languages', Jan 16, 2017.

  1. NubusLatinae1770 Member

    New York USA
    Hello all!

    I was just curious, I have just begun learning Old English through Bright's Old English grammar and reader (a bit of a fossil I think), and was wondering if anyone could answer as to the prevalence of any good readers out there?

    Luckily Latin has an enormous selection of books to read once past the grammar stage (I'm not so sure about OE) and I'm looking for a good Old English anthology of sorts.

    Any recommendations would be appreciated!
  2. Ealdboc Aethelheall Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Germania Inferior
    An old post, but perhaps someone is still reading this.

    Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader is a classic. There's at least one scan on the Internet Archive. For accessible reading I also recommend any of the texts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (you can often get the recent edition that was published by D.S. Brewer for cheap). Elaine Treharne's Old and Middle English: An Anthology has a fair number of texts, with facing-page translations. Do get the second or third edition, though, as there were translation errors in the first. Atherton's Teach Yourself Old English takes a more modern approach to teaching the language than Bright, and has brief texts from a wide range of genres. Some editions also come with an audio CD.
  3. The Kenosha Kid Active Member

    The Zone
    Marsden's Cambridge Reader is newer and rather good, gif þu hæfst þone dah. It'll take you everywhere you need to go, and then some.
    Some easy reading also is Bald's 'Leechbook' (which is also in the archive), full of weird worts and warts.
    Ealdboc Aethelheall likes this.
  4. grimsius New Member

    Sorglice, feoh oft hilþ us gelærednesse.

    It's about $40 USD, but I can vouch for Marsden's reader, too. It pretty much goes with me everywhere. I can also vouch for Teach Yourself Old English. Sweet also wrote a book called First Steps in Anglo-Saxon with some texts in the back. Baker's Introduction To Old English is also pretty widely recommended--it's got a corresponding website that offers a ton of help and some texts. I've made a simple epub with some more or less randomly chosen texts for my own reading. But there isn't a glossary, or help with grammar and phrases. I wouldn't be qualified to write such a thing anyway.
    Ealdboc Aethelheall likes this.
  5. Gamblingbear Active Member

    For those of you who have learned Old English, how difficult or what kind of commitment would you say one needs to learn it? It's something I've sort of tossed about in my head for a long time and I have the opportunity to possibly take an intro class this summer. The closest language (other than English) that I know is German, but I am fluent.

    And could a beginner tackle Beowulf? It's the text I've always wanted to read in Old English.
  6. The Kenosha Kid Active Member

    The Zone
    There's really no better position to be in than yours, since you know both English and German. Obsolete lexical items in English, like OE eac and þa, will likely be more recognizable to you as the German auch and da, and the grammar will be so familiar as to seem effortless. Compare:

    OE: drincan dranc druncon gedruncen
    NE: drink drank drunk drunken
    (I don't know German, but you'll certainly know what the last item would be)

    A beginner in OE, even one with of the sort of knowledge you have, is liable to struggle enormously with Beowulf, in large part because the vocabulary is poetic and, therefore, unfamiliar. It is for this same reason that students of the so-called classical languages are taken aback when they first lay eyes on, say, Pindar.

    I don't mean to discourage you, though. I am myself one who undertook that struggle, and I was as much rewarded for it as frustrated. In fact, it has always been my opinion that that is the only way to truly enjoy a text of this kind.
  7. Gamblingbear Active Member

    Yep, very familiar.

    Not discouraged, just more informed. :) From what you've said, I don't think Beowulf will be the first text I tackle, but I will at some point. Unfortunately the class I was hoping to take this summer won't be possible, but the class was going to use Fulk's an Introductory Grammar.... I was planning on picking that up as my text to take on vacation this summer. After that, I'll see where I'm at. Maybe I'll go through some of the suggestions above.

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