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Analyzing Syntax through Texts

Old, Middle, and Early Modern English

Elly van Gelderen

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Illustrates the syntax and morphology of English with manuscript images and word-by-word transcriptions

To describe a language, it is necessary to get as close to the sources as possible -- this textbook takes manuscript images, explains the various scripts used, and provides a word-by-word account of the Old, Middle, and Early Modern English texts. It invites you to explore early English syntax by looking at the linguistic characteristics of well- known texts throughout the early history of English, and encourages you to evaluate how that piece of the language fits in to the broader picture of how English is developing. You will be introduced to the real writing of the period as you look at the original manuscript version of selected excerpts.

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List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1 Introduction

1 The history of English in a nutshell

2 Functions and case

3 Verbal inflection and clause structure

4 Language change

5 Sources and resources

6 Conclusion

Chapter 2 The Syntax of Old, Middle, and Early Modern English

1 Major Changes in the Syntax of English

2 Word Order

3 Inflections

4 Demonstratives, pronouns, and articles

5 Clause boundaries

6 Dialects in English

7 Conclusion

Chapter 3 Old English Before 1100

1 The script

2 Historical prose narrative: Orosius

3 Sermon: Wulfstan on the Antichrist

4 Biblical gloss and translation: Lindisfarne, Rushworth, and Corpus Versions

5 Poetic monologue: the Wife’s Lament and the Wanderer

6 Conclusion

Chapter 4 Early Middle English 1100-1300

1 Historical prose narrative: Peterborough Chronicle

2 Prose Legend: Seinte Katerine

3 Debate poetry: The Owl and the Nightingale

4 Historical didactic poetry: Physiologus (Bestiary)

5 Prose: Richard Rolle’s Psalter Preface

6 Conclusion

Chapter 5 Late Middle English and Early Modern 1300-1600

1 Didactic poem: Cleanness

2 Instructional scientific prose: Chaucer’s Astrolabe

3 Religious: Margery of Kempe

4 Romance: Caxton

5 Chronicle and letters: Henry Machyn and Queen Elizabeth

6 Conclusion

Chapter 6 Conclusion

Appendix I Summary of all grammatical information

Appendix II Background on texts

Appendix III Keys to the exercises




About the Author

Elly van Gelderen is Regents’ Professor of English at Arizona State University.

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