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Title: Old English ABCs : on the origins and development of the Old English orthographic system, and its relationship to Old English phonology
Author: King, Anne
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1991
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In the opening Chapter of the thesis, various possible approaches to the reconstruction of Old English phonology are considered. Of the five types of approach normally employed, it is concluded that the limitations and drawbacks involved in using orthoepic, metrical, contact and comparative evidence, mean that only the fifth approach, that which makes use of the evidence of Old English spelling itself is direct and reliable enough to be used in the reconstruction of Old English phonology. An examination and critique of traditional approaches to the interpretation of Old English spelling data, as well as traditional means of presenting findings are then offered. The notion of a 'standard' Old English is questioned, in the context both of Old English spelling and of Old English dialects. In the light of the findings of these Chapters, a new approach to the interpretation of Old English spelling is offered. This is based on (1) a taxonomy which establishes, by examining spelling usage, the principles and procedures of the spelling system and (2) the external and linguistic circumstances surrounding the origins of Anglo-Saxon literacy and the Old English spelling system. For (2), details and results of direct and indirect language contact between Pre Old English, early Old Irish and Late Latin/Early Romance are given and discussed. The influences of the latter two languages on the spelling-sound correspondences chosen and established for the eventual writing-down of Old English is then investigated by means of the reconstruction of 7th century sound and spelling systems for both. After an examination of the methodology pertaining to the genesis of a spelling system, this Latin and Old Irish 'supply' is then compared with the 'demand' of the reconstructed Pre Old English sound system. Preliminary findings are presented, followed by a corpus of the earliest Old English spelling data, together with a detailed proposal on how these might best be analysed to gain information on the relative degrees of adoption and adaptation of the Roman-letter alphabet necessary for the writing-down of Old English, the relative degrees of influence exercised by Latin and Old Irish spelling traditions on Anglo-Saxon approaches to spelling, the Old English spelling system itself and Early Old English phonology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available