The first issue you need to consider is whether you are only treating literature written in Old English, of which there is fairly little, or literature from the period written in Latin. Many of the extant works from England between the end of the Roman perioid and the Norman conquest were actually written in Latin, often in monasteries. Many pieces of Anglo-Saxon literature reflect the influence of Christianity on the British isles.
It was probably originally written in Northumbria, although the single manuscript that has come down to us which dates from around contains a bewildering mix of Northumbrian, West Saxon and Anglian dialects. The 3, lines of the work shows that Old English was already a fully developed poetic language by this time, with a particular emphasis on alliteration and percussive effects.
Even at this early stage before the subsequent waves of lexical enrichmentthe variety and depth of English vocabulary, as well as its predilection for synonyms and subtleties of meanings, is evident.
For example, the poem uses 36 different words for hero, 20 for man, 12 for battle and 11 for ship. There are also many interesting "kennings" or allusive compound words, such as hronrad literally, whale-road, meaning the seabanhus bone-house, meaning body and beadoleoma battle-light, meaning sword.
Old English was a very complex language, at least in comparison with modern English.
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|The History of English - Old English (c. - c)||See Article History Beowulf, heroic poem, the highest achievement of Old English literature and the earliest European vernacular epic. It deals with events of the early 6th century and is believed to have been composed between and|
Nouns had three genders male, female and neuter and could be inflected for up to five cases. Adjectives could have up to eleven forms. Even definite articles had three genders and five case forms as a singular and four as a plural. Word order was much freer than today, the sense being carried by the inflections and only later by the use of propositions.
Although it looked quite different from modern English on paper, once the pronunciation and spelling rules are understood, many of its words become quite familiar to modern ears.
Many of the most basic and common words in use in English today have their roots in Old English, including words like water, earth, house, food, drink, sleep, sing, night, strong, the, a, be, of, he, she, you, no, not, etc.
Interestingly, many of our common swear words are also of Anglo-Saxon origin including tits, fart, shit, turd, arse and, probably, pissand most of the others were of early medieval provenance.
During the 6th Century, for reasons which are still unclear, the Anglo-Saxon consonant cluster "sk" changed to "sh", so that skield became shield. This change affected all "sk" words in the language at that time, whether recent borrowings from Latin e.
Any modern English words which make use of the "sk" cluster came into the language after the 6th Century i. Then, around the 7th Century, a vowel shift took place in Old English pronunciation analogous to the Great Vowel Shift during the Early Modern period in which vowels began to be pronouced more to the front of the mouth.
The main sound affected was "i", hence its common description as "i-mutation" or "i-umlaut" umlaut is a German term meaning sound alteration. As part of this process, the plurals of several nouns also started to be represented by changed vowel pronunciations rather than changes in inflection.The influence of Christianity on the vocabulary of Old English poetry Item PreviewPages: Many other Old English poems are re-tellings of Biblical stories or verse versions of the lives of saints.
The "Dream of the Rood" is a long mystical poem about the Cross. Among the literary works representative of this later period of Old English may be listed the “Battle of Maldon”, an Old English poem relating the events of the Battle of Maldon of (the poem is thought to have been written not long after) and the “Old English Hexateuch”, a richly illustrated Old English translation of the first six books of the Bible, probably compiled in Canterbury in the second quarter of .
In descending order of quantity, Old English literature consists of: sermons and saints' lives; biblical translations; translated Latin works of the early Church Fathers; Anglo-Saxon chronicles and narrative history works; laws, wills and other legal works; practical . - The Exeter Book The Exeter Book is the largest existing collection of Old English poetry.
The manuscript was given to the library of Exeter Cathedral by its first bishop, Leofric, at the end of the tenth century. The Influence of Christianity on the Vocabulary of Old English Poetry by Albert Keiser.