About this Guide

This guide is motivated by my own needs. In trying to learn Old English on my own, I started using A Guide to Old English by Mitchell and Robinson. I found this work very hard to use - it provides loads of highly technical information on declension, conjugation and sound changes, but does not cover things like syntax and what constructs are actually used in Old English works until very late in the text. This makes learning extremely hard - it is not easy to tell what is important and what is a rare exception. Also, there is no stage by stage acquisition of the vocabulary needed and there are no exercises to test either vocabulary or understanding of the constructs. So my theory goes that if I can write a guide which does some of the things I've said are lacking in Mitchell and Robinson, then it will not only aid my own understanding, but might be of use to others.

At all stages in this guide I want talk about how the constructs are used, rather than working through how all the words work and then talking about syntax. What I'd like to do, like Wheelock's Latin Grammar, is to introduce vocabulary, and have sentences/passages from real works as exercises (they will need to be simplified for the early chapters). My current plans for the contents goes roughly as follows:

Where did OE originate
when used
what written--not done yet
dialects--not done yet
Orthography and Pronunciation
The OE character set
Case, Inflection and Pronouns
Grammatical introduction to Case
Personal pronouns
Conjugation and Verbs I
Grammatical introduction to conjugation
use strong verb to demonstrate inflection
Pronouns and Verbs in Action (simple sentences)--not done yet 
Nouns and Adjectives I
Strong noun to demonstrate inflection
introduction to other declensions
demonstrative pronouns--started .
weak nouns
introduction to adjectives; weak adjectives
agreement of adjectives and nouns--not done yet
basic word order and noun phrases--not done yet
more complex sentences--not done yet.
scip/word comparison as "hook" for sound changes
Phonology and Basic Sound Changes
short/long syllables
open/closed syllables
vowel types (front/back, high/low)
scip/word, explanation
dęg --> dagas explanation--started.
Nouns and Adjectives II
strong nouns--not done yet
strong adjectives--not done yet
how to recognise strong/weak nouns and adjectives--not done yet
Conjugation and Verbs II
Introduction to tenses
Class I weak verbs
Class II weak verbs
beon, habban and weoržan
More Conjugation and Strong Verbs
Introduction to tenses
principal parts
introduction to past tense
recognition symbols classes I, II, IV-VI
Irregular Verbs
"don"-- started
"gan"-- started
"willan"-- started.
Resolved Tenses
Modern English Tenses --started
Old English Tenses--not done yet.
Sound Changes II
initial palatals-- started
nasals-- started
More Strong Verbs
Class III--started
Grimm's Law--not done yet
Verner's Law--not done yet
Class VII--not done yet
weak verbs--not done yet
Word Formation
prefixes--not done yet
suffixes--not done yet
compounding--not done yet
Syntax III
Not sure what to put in here.

I need to discuss the following but haven't decided where they fit yet:

I also need to do various general things, some are HTML-wrangling, others content related which I'll probably do first:

I'd like eventually to cover a lot more things, but let's not get over-ambitious. Things that I would like to do include:

Tony Jebson <jebbo@texas.net> 14th May 2001