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Neophilologus

, Volume 100, Issue 2, pp 289–302 | Cite as

Old English Metrical History and the Composition of Widsið

  • Rafael J. Pascual
Article

Abstract

In an attempt to refute the traditional notion that portions of Widsið were composed before the adventus Saxonum, Eric Weiskott recently resurrected a dating method employed by early twentieth-century literary historians, which consists of checking the forms that the half-lines of a poetic text would have had in prehistoric Old English against the well-known four-position rule of historical verse construction in order to establish a terminus a quo for its composition. This method is thus predicated on the assumption that the four-position principle obtained before the occurrence of certain prehistoric sound changes. The present essay advances a series of arguments that demonstrate that the four-position rule is the result of the evolution of the Old English language, and that it is therefore wrong to assume that it was already operative in the prehistory of Old English.

Keywords

Old English literature Old English metre Old English phonology Widsið 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Universidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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