SEL3341 : Old English: Texts and Translations
- Offered for Year: 2019/20
- Module Leader(s): Dr Adam Mearns
- Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
- Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
|Semester 1 Credit Value:||20|
This module gives you the chance to gain a basic competence in reading and translating Old English, and an understanding of its grammar. Lectures introduce the main features of Old English, while seminars are based on careful reading of texts; we also use some online materials. The reading is from an interesting range of graded texts, which give insights into aspects of Anglo-Saxon life (from shepherds to kings) as well as language. Most are prose, but there are also extracts from the greatest poetry, including Beowulf, where we compare the original with different approaches to translating it.
Outline Of Syllabus
The topics of the lectures include: the origins and historical context of Old English (OE), and the sources of evidence available to us; OE orthography and phonology; OE morphology (inflections and case); OE syntax (clause elements and word order); spelling variation and sound changes in OE; nouns, adjectives and verbs in OE; OE vocabulary (semantics, word formation and loans); OE poetic style and diction; approaches to translating OE.
|Guided Independent Study||Assessment preparation and completion||1||50:00||50:00||N/A|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Lecture||24||1:00||24:00||N/A|
|Guided Independent Study||Skills practice||1||34:00||34:00||N/A|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Small group teaching||12||1:00||12:00||N/A|
|Guided Independent Study||Independent study||1||80:00||80:00||N/A|
Teaching Rationale And Relationship
Lectures introduce major features of Old English language and its context, i.e impart essential knowledge, while seminars apply this to particular texts in smaller groups. Seminars are thus an opportunity for guided reading of texts and for the examination of the processes and skills involved in understanding them. The texts are graded, moving from purpose-made phrases and sentences, to prose passages chosen for their intrinsic interest and suitability for beginning students, and finally to short samples of poetry, including extracts from Beowulf. Hypertext materials are used to facilitate independent study. Non-assessed written work in the course of the module takes the form of translation from Old English and grammatical analysis.
The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners
|Written exercise||1||M||20||translation and grammatical analysis|
Assessment Rationale And Relationship
The mid-term written exercise involves the translation and grammatical analysis of a short passage of Old English. The analysis requires identification of morphological features and syntactic structures, together with brief comments on selected phonological features. This promotes and tests learning of essential aspects of Old English grammar. In doing so, it also serves as useful preparation for the examination.
The examination consists of:
(1) A compulsory unseen translation which tests basic linguistic knowledge and translation skills. Words which students cannot be expected to know or guess are glossed.
(2) Translation of a passage from one of the texts studied in the module, with brief comments on the approach that has been taken in dealing with some of the linguistic features of the original text. This – and especially the revision that is necessary for it – consolidates and tests knowledge of the language in action in particular kinds of writing.
(3) Critique of alternative translations of an Old English passage. This encourages a more nuanced approach to texts and translations, taking account of literary considerations as well as accuracy.