Old English and Its Closest Relatives: A Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $14.54
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 49%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $14.54   
  • New (4) from $18.73   
  • Used (6) from $14.54   


At first glance, there may seem little reason to think of English and German as variant forms of a single language. There are enormous differences between the two in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, and a monolingual speaker of one cannot understand the other at all. Yet modern English and German have many points in common, and if we go back to the earliest texts available in the two languages, the similarities are even more notable.

How do we account for these similarities? The generally accepted explanation is that English and German are divergent continuations of a common ancestor, a Germanic language now lost. This book surveys the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the earliest kown Germanic languages, members of what has traditionally been known as the English family tree: Gothic, Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old English, Old Frisian, Old Low Franconian, and Old High German.

For each language, the author provides a brief history of the people who spoke it, an overview of the important texts in the language, sample passages with full glossary and word-by-word translations, a section on orthography and grammar, and discussion of linguistic or philological topics relevant to all the early Germanic languaes but best exemplified by the particular language under consideration. These topics inclued the pronunciation of older languages; the runic inscriptions; Germanic alliterative pietry; historical syntax, borrowing, analogy, and drift; textual transmission; and dialect variation.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The task of writing a book like Robinson's is very difficult. His contains much to be admired and is a worthy handbook ... Good students can learn much from the wealth of information in the present work, and it is to be recommended to them."—Journal of English and Germanic Philology

"This generally engaging work is well-thought out and well-organized. . . . Robinson has written [a book] that deserves attention."—Colloquia Germanica

"[Old English and its closest relatives] is well designed and well written. It is thorough, yet not too encumbered by linguistic facts and linguistic jargon. . . . [Robinson's] goal, to introduce the reader to the earliest Germanic languages and their interdialectal relations, has been masterfully accomplished."—The German Quarterly

"There is much to be valued in this book, the strength of which lies in bringing together representative texts and concise but generally informative discussions of historical background, grammar, versification, and the like, and unified by chapters on the Germanic language family and its grammatical system."—Germanic Notes and Reviews

"This book certainly fills a gap. Without it, one would have to assemble a set of handbooks of the old dialects. These would have the disadvantage of various degrees of outdatedness and divergent arrangement of materials. Robinson brings the grammatical material into alignment in a manageable number of features, selected for their significance as means of comparison. . . . The readings give some impression of the variety of language and genre, while the tribal histories add a touch of life to a possibly dry topic. . . . The focus of the work is linguistic, and in this respect there is much to admire in the selection and parallel organization of the material."—Seminar

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804722216
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1993
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,007,419
  • Product dimensions: 5.97 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Germanic Language Family 1
2 Germanic: A Grammatical Sketch 24
3 Gothic 43
4 Old Norse 69
5 Old Saxon 100
6 Old English 136
7 Old Frisian 176
8 Old Low Franconian 199
9 Old High German 222
10 The Grouping of the Germanic Languages 247
Appendix: Translations of Readings 265
Reference Matter 277
Bibliography 279
Index 285
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2013

    Excellent Book. Covers a Huge Territory in a modest sized book

    First off this book could have just as well been titled "The Germanic Language Family" since it covers the Nordic family of languages as well as Dutch, Frisian and the German languages equally. Mr. Robinson does a wonderful job covering a subject which ranges from the history of the major Migration Era Germanic tribes to the High German Consonant shift, gemination, fricatives and other building blocks of Phonology. There is also some discussion of syntax, grammar with a fascinating side-trip into epic poetry. But don't be afraid - if you jump into this book you'll quickly discover that the author expertly guides you through the concepts (large and small) to the point where reading verses in ancient Gothic is possible, even for a reader like me who hasn't used the word garund in over 30 years and can say only a few words in a non-English language.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)