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By Professor Donka Minkova

This examine makes use of facts from early English poetry to figure out whilst definite sound alterations came about within the transition from outdated to heart English. It builds at the premise that alliteration in early English verse displays faithfully the id and similarity of under pressure syllable onsets; it truly is in keeping with the acoustic sign and never at the visible identification of letters. exam of the behaviour of onset clusters results in new conclusions concerning the reasons for the designated remedy of sp-, st-, sk-, and the chronology and motivation of cluster aid.

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Hu seo þrag gewat38 Beo 539 And 225 Beo 1601 Beo 1236 Wan 95 Verse-initially the verb is also free to alliterate, though the frequency of this placement of finite verbs is admittedly low in the corpus. When the verb is the only major class word in the verse, it is also likely to carry the alliteration. The option of stress-bearing finite verb forms is illustrated in the following Beowulf lines: Hi hyne ða ætbæron / to brimes faroðe39 þanon he gesohte / Suðdena folc40 Gemunde þa se goda, / mæg Higelaces41 ond be healse genam; / hruron him tearas42 Beo 28 Beo 463 Beo 758 Beo 1872 31.

This is the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this section: were the continuation and reinvention of strongstress alliterative poetry hampered by changes in the native linguistic scene? They were not; after a period of retrenchment alliterative poetry emerged as a vigorous and inspired artistic activity, well adapted to the changed language. At heart the products of the alliterative schools throughout Middle English remain traditional in the attention accorded to the optimal deployment of the acoustic features of language in verse.

2 Post-Conquest poetic scene 11 The verbal art experience was widely shared. Verse could be improvised, memorized, and recited by illiterate scops, but poetry could also be composed and modified by learned monks. The recording of verse was presumably fully in the hands of the monks, but poetry must have been enjoyed outside the lettered or the most privileged circles of society. Crucially, despite the prominence of Latin within the monastic scholarly tradition, the Old English language was widely used and highly respected as the language of art, instruction, preaching, and legislation.

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