Karavinka wrote:http://www.amazon.com/Old-English-Langu ... 505&sr=1-1
I've been reading Gothic back and forth and I'm kind of getting bored, so I thought I might brush up on Old English and do it legit this time. I ordered this one and I'm waiting for it. Unlike Mitchell and Robinson (which I have and have read), this one is in a lesson format with chapter readings, so it looks less like a grammar reference but more like a... textbook. I'm still waiting to get this shipped, so I might add more on this later on. Since I've read much more Middle English than Old, I'd like to see some new lights that a better knowledge of OE could shed on ME.
Okay, I got Marckwardt-Rosier (M-R) and I've had it for like three days. So, this is like my first impression of this rather under-evaluated OE textbook. I'm moving past lesson 11, which is a bit fast but it's because I'm using it to refresh what I learned, not to learn it from scratch. So that might be my bias, but in general I really like this.
First, if you're looking forward to get some "textbook" which teaches language lesson by lesson, this is probably the best option. There is a newer book by Hasenfratz and Jambeck (H-J) but H-J's layout is, honestly, pretty messy. It was a nice try, but just wasn't executed too well.
M-R has 25 lessons and the reading section. There is a glossary, but it's the weakest glossary that I've ever seen. So, unless you have a full dictionary or at least something that has a better glossary (like Mitchell and Robinson?), you're going to have to spend some time guessing random things. But the lessons themselves aren't bad. The first five lessons highlight some of the obvious cognates with boldface, and starting from Lesson 7, it discusses more historical linguistic aspects as well (e.g. fronting of West Germanic vowel /a/ in OE, resulting "daeg" as opposed to "dag").
The lesson layout is fairly traditional. You get some grammar and some readings, that's it. To my diappointment, there really isn't any exercise to manipulate things at the sentence level. In this respect, it feels kind of like Bennett's Gothic textbook, though M-R's explanations are less brief. The readings in the first 14 lessons are all taken from the OE translation of the Gospels, chiefly from Luke, and in the remaining lessons 15 to 25, Apollonius of Tyre is used. So, up to lesson 25, it's all prose. The readings are really short in the first few lessons, like Lesson 3 reading is only 4 verses long (Mark 11:15-18), and although it gets somewhat longer (Lesson 14 has Luke 21:20-28, 9 verses), it''s not a whole lot.
Unlike some grammars, where syntax gets a separate chapter thrown in the back, M-R discusses syntax from the very beginning. Case functions and inverted word orders are introduced in the first lessons with example sentences, and many of these example sentences use grammar that is not yet taught. The point is to just illustrate certain case usage so the rest might just be ignored, but I feel more comfortable only because I already knew some OE to begin with.
The reader section at the back is very nice. To quote the authors in the preface: "in selecting the texts an effort was also made to avoid, in part, duplication of poems and prose passages which have appeared as the traditional fare of many Old English grammars and readers." You know, it's not too exciting to read the same old thing when you're reading a different textbook. Other than some Bible passages, M-R offers following texts:
Aelfric's The Devil and the Apostate
Aelfric's St. John and the Wayward Boy
The Wife's Lament
Wulfstan De Falsis Diis
Bede's Caedmon account
Genesis A: The Flood, The Capture and Rescue of Lot
Snippets from Christ and Beowulf
From what I can see, just two sections, Bede's account on Caedmon the Poet and The Phoenix are duplicates from Bright's Reader. Comparing with Mitchell and Robinson, Bede's account on Caedmon and The Wife's Lament are duplicates, but still this is not a lot.
If you compare Baker and Mitchell and Robinson, at least 9 out of 14 in Baker and out of 22 in Mitchell and Robinson are duplicates: (Cynewulf and Cyneheard, Fall of Adam and Eve, Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, The Wife's Lament, Wulf and Eadwacer, Judith, The Dream of the Rood, The Wanderer, Story of Caedmon). I think it was a nice gesture that Marckwardt and Rosier did this, since theirs came somewhat later than Mitchell and Robinson's first edition. (I don't want to bash Baker's textbook, but I didn't buy that one because of this problem: the text selections are so uninspired and lacks novelty. And Baker came out in 2003, that's like..inexcusable.)
The last thing: the book's binding looks kind of cheap, but looks sturdy enough, and I like the dimension, it's a bit smaller than Mitchell and Robinson and it's easier to pack this around. For the price, this is worth considering.