Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Primer

Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Primer

Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Primer

Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Primer

Synopsis

Henry Sweet (1845-1912) was a philologist, and is also considered to be an early linguist. He specialized in the Germanic languages, particularly Anglo-Saxon (an early version of English), Old Icelandic, and West Saxon.

Excerpt

Sweet's Primer first appeared in 1882, and was last revised for the eighth edition of 1905. It is not surprising that in the interval methods of presentation should have changed. the Primer, though designed as an introduction to Sweet Reader, has tended to fall out of use, but nothing has replaced it; and the Reader itself has often been used as a beginner's book, for which it was never intended.

In the belief that an elementary introduction on the lines of the Primer is essential, I have tried in the present revision to preserve the policy and the scale of Sweet's work, while rearranging it very considerably in detail. in the grammar-- especially in treating the verb, where Sweet's classification has failed to find acceptance--I have sought to present the facts, with as few technical terms as possible, in the same groups as students will find when they come to more advanced books. the bare outlines of relevant phonology have been rearranged with the same object, though I fear that so concise a statement cannot be readily intelligible. Under the paradigms the lists of similarly inflected words have been much increased, and the section on syntax, especially on word-order, has been expanded. in so limited a space the grammar could not aim at anything like completeness. It sets out to cover the texts in this book, and all examples are drawn from them; but I hope that it will serve also as a working elementary grammar for wider use.

The texts have been considerably modified. To provide fuller examples of natural Old English prose, not translated from Latin, I have extended the extracts from the Chronicle and added passages from Ælfric's prefaces; and to widen the range of interest I have included well-known passages from the Old English translation of Bede, from Alexander's Letter, and from the Leechdoms. To make room for these I have had to omit some of the Biblical extracts, and all the sentences which formed the first section. This I have done reluctantly, for they were skilfully chosen to exhibit forms. But I believe--though the changes have probably raised the general level of difficulty a little--that readers will find consecutive prose so much more interesting than disconnected sentences that they will in fact learn more readily from it. All the texts have been revised (all . . .

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