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Title: Comparative Syntax of Old English and Old Icelandic
Subtitle: Linguistic, Literary and Historical Implications
Written By: Graeme Davis
Series Title: Studies in Historical Linguistics. Vol. 1

Study of the syntax of Old English and Old Icelandic has for long been
dominated by the impressions of early philologists. Their assertions that
these languages were "free" in their word-order were for many years
unchallenged. Only within the last two decades has it been demonstrated
that the word-order of each shows regular patterns which approach the
status of rules, and which may be precisely described.

This book takes the subject one step further by offering a comparison of
the syntax of Old English and Old Icelandic, the two best-preserved Old
Germanic languages. Overwhelmingly, the two languages show the same
word-order patterns - as do the other Old Germanic languages, at least as
far as can be determined from the fragments which have survived. It has
long been recognised that Old English and Old Icelandic have a high
proportion of common lexis and very similar morphology, yet the convention
has been to emphasise the differences between the two as representatives
respectively of the West and North sub-families of Germanic.

The argument of this book is that the similar word-order of the two should
instead lead us to stress the similarities between the two languages. Old
English and Old Icelandic were sufficiently close to be mutually
comprehensible. This thesis receives copious support from historical and
literary texts. Our understanding of the Old Germanic world should be
modified by the concept of a common "Northern Speech" which provided a
common Germanic ethnic identity and a platform for the free flow of
cultural ideas.


- Old English, Anglo-Saxon
- Old Icelandic, Old Norse
- Old High German, Gothic, Norn
- Syntax, word-order, Germanic philology, comparative philology.

The Author:
Graeme Davis is Principal Lecturer in English Language at Northumbria
University, UK. Following a PhD in Anglo-Saxon Philology from the
University of St Andrews, UK, he has worked in the field of early mediaeval
Germanic syntax, developing tools for describing and comparing word-order

Publication Year: 2006
Publisher: Peter Lang AG
Review: Not available for review. If you would like to review a book on The LINGUIST List, please login to view the AFR list.
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Subject Language(s): Gothic
English, Old
German, Old High
Norse, Old
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 3039102702
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 190
Prices: U.K. £ 25.50
U.S. $ 43.95
Europe EURO 36.40