Exercises and topics for further study

For reasons of space the following exercises have been kept as brief and indicative as possible, with no particular order of difficulty. They are based on the extracts discussed in chapter eight; for the sources of these, see pp. 276-7. Other relevant material will be found in the Index and the Notes and suggested reading as well as the main text above.

1 Try to write out a translation of texts 1-11 into modern English using the glosses. Note any problems you encounter. How much continuity can you find from the earliest texts to the most recent? Do you feel that the 'intelligibility' of the Old and Middle English texts is a single issue, or does it have several dimensions? How 'intelligible', for instance, do you find the Authorised Version discussed alongside Extract 2? Are any problems you find comparable to those you might encounter in respect of the 'legalese' of Extract 9? Are there disadvantages in up-dating the language of these kinds of texts?

2 The OED extract talks of an 'accepted uniform spelling and an approximately uniform pronunciation'. Do you find this a reasonable description of English today? Do you think it appropriate for the mid-nineteenth century?

Identify (a) some of the variations in English spelling today and (b) the deviations from a uniform spelling system as evidenced from Extracts 10 onwards. (Examples include u/v, ou/ow, etc.)

Notice the deviations from conventional English spelling in Extract 16. Are they systematic? Are some more 'phonetic' than conventional spelling, and would they also be appropriate for English pronunciation? How far is the argument about American spelling on pages 240-1 relevant for Scots?

Identify spellings in the extracts that may represent variability in pronunciation, for example erlar, cowde.

-266-

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