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The oldest recorded stage of the English Language is Old English (henceforth OE), sometimes called Anglo-Saxon after the people who wrote and spoke it. Records in OE begin in the 6th century AD, and continue until the Norman Conquest of 1066; OE shades into Middle English (ME) after 1100-1150. Several dialects of OE are recorded, but one variety, West Saxon, seems to have achieved the status of a standard written language in the years before the Norman Conquest. In origin, West Saxon was the language of the Kingdom of Wessex, in the south-west of England. The texts in this book have been normalised into Early West Saxon, the form of this dialect current in the time of King Alfred (849-899 AD), since this provides a useful basis for subsequent linguistic study. However, you will become aware as your studies progress that "standard" West Saxon permitted much more variation than Present-Day written English does; this variation is discussed further in Appendix I.

This manual contains most of the materials you will need for your elementary OE studies. It assumes some basic knowledge of elementary phonetics and grammar.

Although this manual is designed for those working with a teacher, it is possible that you may wish to work through it independently. If you want to do this, you will find a suggested scheme of study in Appendix II.

  • Basic A series of basic grammar reference pages and exercises to test grammar knowledge
  • Plus A series of advanced grammar reference pages and exercises to test grammar knowledge
  • Glossary Translations of the Old English words that are used in this resource
  • About Information about this resource, abbreviations, phonetic symbols, reading list and study guide