Prior to the publication of this volume in 1987, scholars interested in Old English alliterative meter discovered a number of intriguing restrictions on verse form, and their discoveries proved useful in the editing of texts and in research on the early history of the English language. It had proved impossible up to this point however, to capture these restrictions in a plausible system of rules. In this book Professor Russom obtained a coherent and comprehensive rule system using the insights of linguistic theory. The rules of this system apply not just to stress and syllable count but to other features of work structure as well. Russom claims, in particular, that the concept of 'metrical foot' appropriate for analysis of Old English poetry corresponds to the concept of 'word pattern' used in linguistic analysis. In Old English Meter and Linguistic Theory the author explains these rules carefully, justifies them from a linguistic point of view and goes on to apply them to a wide variety of problems. The results should interest not only those who deal with Old English texts, but also metrists and linguistics generally.
Preface; Introduction; 1. The foot; 2. The verse; 3. Light feet and extrametrical words; 4. Interpretation of ambiguous linguistic material; 5. Relative frequency and metrical complexity; 6. Hypermetrical verses; 7. Alliteration; 8. Metrical subordination within the foot; 9. Words of classes B and C; 10. Rules and exceptions; 11. Overview; Appendix: rule summary; Notes; Works cited; Beowulf verses of special interest; Index.
Ling & Literature