Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Essentials of Early English

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Essentials of Early English

Article excerpt

Jeremy J. Smith, Essentials of Early English (London: Routledge, 1999). xiv + 251 pp. ISBN 0-415-18743-5. L14.99. Dr Smith describes his book as a `prequel to more advanced books', and it is in conjunction with other descriptions of the history of the language that this text will be useful. The book is divided into three parts. Part I begins with a very brief summary of the history of the language (separated into 'external' and 'internal' histories), followed by a particularly helpful linguistic introduction, designed to impart a working vocabulary of, primarily, articulatory phonetics and inflexional grammar. Its following three chapters, on Old English, Middle English, and Early Modern English, are each divided into four sections: `Spelling and pronunciation', 'Syntax', 'Paradigms', and 'Lexicon'. Cross-references between the descriptions of grammatical categories in 'Paradigms' and 'Lexicon' are thorough, but the lack of clear direction concerning how the description of the language and the exemplary texts contained in part II might work together may make it difficult for the lone reader to assimilate the grammatical material, especially in the Old English chapter. …

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