What is the course about?
This course introduces you to the Old English language, spoken in England before the Norman Conquest. While there are some aspects of Old English which will be familiar to English speakers, it was a more purely Germanic language, with inflection rather than word order being important for meaning. We will focus on the key grammatical characteristics of the language, and will undertake translation of Old English texts, including prose and poetry.
The overall aim is to be comfortable with translation, and understanding effective ways of overcoming issues of interpretation through knowledge of the language, and also knowing how to find out the answer to questions of translation if problems arise. We will use one of the standard introductions to the language, Introduction to Old English, 3rd edn. by Peter S. Baker (2003).
What will we cover?
Key linguistic aspects of Old English such as vocabulary, cases, inflections, word classes
An introduction to the grammar of Old English.
Translation of Old English literature, from relatively simple prose sentences to the poetry of Beowulf.
Methods of proceeding when you are stuck during a translation task.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Adopt certain techniques and methods to translate texts.
- Describe the key characteristics of Old English.
- Parse Old English (we will discuss ‘parsing’ as part of the course)
- Be familiar with significant vocabulary.
- Be familiar with the similarities between Old English and Modern English texts.
- Have a grounding in Old English grammar and syntax.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course. Understanding of linguistic terminology would be useful but is not essential. Certain linguistic terminology (such as parsing, classes, etc. which have already been mentioned in this course outline) will be covered in the class, and we will introduce grammatical and linguistic terminology.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Demonstration, and individual and group tasks.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Ideally you should have a copy of Introduction to Old English, 3rd edn. by Peter S. Baker (2003).
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Other Classical languages or civilisation classes. Check the website for more information.