Old English Coursework Sample

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Question 1

“Look at the text provided and find three examples as to how these excerpts in Old English differ from Modern English (focus on vocabulary/morphology, word order/syntax, and/or word meaning/semantics).


Most word order in the excerpt occurs in VSO, VOS, or OSV. The subject never comes first. This contrasts the modern English that contains the SVO agreement.
Secondly, most syntactic constructions begin with a conditional object that is unfamiliar to the modern English.
Lastly, the vocabularies tend to overlap in usage, like the application of Gif and man.
Examples include, “If someone hits another on the nose with fist, three shillings.” (pg 23)

Question 2

You are familiar with the grammatical category Determiner, whose members include the/a/this/that/these/those. Investigate the syntax, morphology, and semantics of one of these words in Old English. In the literature, these words may be identified as ‘articles’ or ‘demonstratives’. Would this word better fit into a grammatical or a lexical category, according to Lobeck’s criteria in Table 2.1? Justify your answer.


The syntax of the determiner category “the” in the Anglo-saxon English illustrates a certain endowment that is quite different from the modern day English. A certain trick lies in the Subject verb agreement (SVO) of modern English. The orders are varied, from VOS, OSV to VSO order. The article, determiner still retains its definite stand on the noun or subject. For instance, se cyning means the king. The morphology of this word forms emerged from the Celtic influence. Modern English and these words have similar influence based on their morphological inclinations. “Se,” the Anglo Saxon equivalence shares the vowel in the morphological environment. The semantics of these article shares in the modern day definite sense of “the.” It derives meaning from the noun/subject usage. Lobeck’s criterion denotes a grammatical class as the best classification of these articles. They share similar syntactic distribution, which dwells on the realms of semantics and morphology…”

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