Языки и языкознание
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Valfells S., Cathey J.E. Old Icelandic: An Introductory Course
Valfells S. , Cathey J.E. Old Icelandic: An Introductory Course. - Oxford University Press, 1981. - 404 p.


There are, generally speaking, two types of students of Old Icelandic: those who are interested primarily as linguists and those interested as literary scholars. Old Icelandic is designed to serve the needs of both. Their needs, however, are—to a degrees— incompatible. But the groundwork for either scholar is the language itself, and Old Icelandic will give any student a systematic and thorough introduction to Classical Old Icelandic, the language of the thirteenth century sagas. Following this comprehensive introduction to the language, the student will be well prepared for more specialized study, whether in literature or linguistics.
In its conception and step-by-step progression Old Icelandic is a departure from traditional handbooks, which generally contain a cursory section on grammar and an ungraded selection of readings. In the first ten lessons we have carefully constructed introductory reading texts to ease the initial encounter with the language. From the eleventh lesson the student is reading short passages from a variety of sagas, each chosen to illustrate particular grammatical points. These selections are also intended to introduce the student to episodes representative of the saga genre, with special emphasis on the major family sagas, as well as to show—as far as is possible— various aspects of Old Icelandic culture.
Although Old Icelandic is no longer spoken or written, and the student needs only a passive command of the language, we have included drills and translations into Old Icelandic for each lesson as leaing devices, whereby the student can check his command of skills thus far developed. Even a passive linguistic ability must have its active intellectual input.
The constraints placed by pedagogical considerations pose many problems, which we have tried to resolve by taking into consideration the various requirements and backgrounds of students. Therefore, those who find the linguistic treatment insufficiently concise or theoretically unsatisfactory may object. And the literary
scholars may at first find that the linguistic presentation is too technical. However, despite such objections, we strongly believe that technical compromises made for pedagogical purposes are valid and necessary. Our method provides a sound introduction to all aspects of the language: phonology, morphology, and the rudiments of the syntax.
We would like to explain briefly some points in our presentation of the material. Our orthographic standard for Old Icelandic is based for the most part on that represented by Cleasby and Vigfusson in their Icelandic-English Dictionary, as it is this or the derivative work by Zo?ga, A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic, that the student is most likely to tu to in the future. We have, however, used some spellings which follow the standard set by the ?slenzk Forit series, where the ?F forms show greater phonological discrimination and derivational clarity, as for example, in the use of the o and in such spellings as bygg? 'district', which is more clearly related to the verb byggja 'inhabit' than the Cleasby-Vigfusson spelling byg?. We have, furthermore, followed a principle of alphabetization which does not separate the longs (i. e. ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?) from the shorts (i. e. a, e, i, o, u, y, ?, o), as do the Cleasby-Vigfusson and Zo?ga dictionaries. That is, our order is vigr, vita, vikingr, not vika, v?gr, v?kingr. etc. In each lesson the vocabulary is presented alphabetically by classification as to part of speech. The glossary at the back of the book lists all words in consecutive alphabetical order and indicates their point of first occurrence in the Lessons.
Our use of underlying representations in parentheses for inflected stems is intended to serve a pedagogical purpose. The student will quickly lea to produce correct forms, given the stems, endings, and phonological rules, without having to memorize a large number of seemingly unrelated forms. The student will understand the linguistic relationships between the various reflexes of the same stem, for instance, between the neuter noun land (land-) 'land' and the derived verb lenda (land-i/j-) 'to land', or between the strong verb fara (far-) 'go, jouey' and the feminine derived noun fgr (far-a-) 'jouey', or between the infinitive spyrja 'ask' and the past tense form spur?i 'asked', both from the stem (spur-i/j-).
The translation exercises from English are intended as a review of the vocabulary and of the mode of expression in Old Icelandic. The English has purposely been written in these exercises to follow the
style of Old Icelandic and to serve as a basis from which to imitate that style. Thus the often marginal or even bad English of the exercise sentences is merely a device employed to ease the transition to an authentic Old Icelandic sentence and to hinder the student from mechanically arranging Old Icelandic words in English style, which most often would produce inauthentic Old Icelandic.
Each lesson centres on one or two grammatical categories, e. g. the Dative Singular. Concomitant phonological and syntactical points make up the remainder of the lesson. As a result, the individual lessons vary considerably in length, and the student will find some more difficult than others. The instructor should keep this in mind in pacing the student. If only limited time is available, the instructor may choose to read only one selection in each lesson or to assign only part of the drills and translation exercises.
We are greatly indebted, first and foremost, to the Icelandic-English Dictionary by Cleasby and Vigfusson, which is an invaluable sourcebook for all students and scholars of Old Icelandic. The texts from various sagas in our reading selections (Lessons XI-XXVIII, XXX-XXXV) are based on the versions in the series ?slenzk Forit published by Hi? ?slenzka foritaf?lag. We would like to express our appreciation of the fine work done by the many editors of this series. Our excerpts in Lesson XXIX are based on ?slendingab?k Ara fr??a as edited by J?n J?hannesson and published in the series Islenzk Handrit.
We would like to give special thanks to our colleagues for their advice and encouragement. Professors Haraldur Bessason of the University of Manitoba, Nils Hasselmo of the University of Minnesota, and Frank Hugus of the University of Massachusetts offered invaluable suggestions based on their reading of the text and on their use of the manuscript in class. We would also like to thank the many students who gave us very constructive criticism. Any shortcomings in the present version are, of course, the sole responsibility of the authors.
We would like to acknowledge the role of the American-Scandinavian Foundation in commissioning and financially supporting this book. We owe a special debt of gratitude to Gene G. Gage, former President of the ASF, for the original idea behind this collaboration and for his unfailing support of our efforts.
Although this book represents a close collaboration on all aspects of the final version, Sigrid Valfells had primary responsi-
bility for the Readings, the organization of the Grammar, and the Drills, while Jim Cathey had primary responsibility for the Vocabulary, the Glossary, and the Translations.
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