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📙 The student’s dictionary of Anglo-Saxon by Henry Sweet — free download


The student who entered the border-lands of Old English by the way of an early edition of Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader learned through a painful experience that the path was not smooth or easy. To the inevitable difficulties of what then seemed to him arbitrary variations of vowels and consonants, there was added the inconvenience of a partially non-alphabetic arrangement of vocabulary. He was not yet able to refer words to normal types, and he had sometimes much difficulty in knowing where even a normal type was to be found. Consulting the vocabulary seemed almost like playing a game of chance, where success might depend upon scanning the whole list of words beginning with one initial letter, with even then a chance of failure through some unaccountable inadvertence. Later editions of Sweet's Reader have recognized some of the defects of former ones, and have made the student's task easier, by arranging the words for the most part alphabetically, so that now, when Dr. Sweet has issued The Student's Dictionary of Anglo-Saxon, we are prepared not only to find the book critical and scholarly, but also to hope that it is simple in its plan, and helpful even to the beginner. The need of an Old English dictionary to replace the inadequate Bosworth, had previously been supplied by the Bosworth-Toller Dictionary (completed since Sweet's), and by that of Dr. Hall, published in 1894, under the title A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary for the Use of Students. Dr. Sweet states in his preface that he undertook this work at the request of the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, who felt 'the want of an abridgement of the large Anglo-Saxon dictionary still in progress.' What place does this latest dictionary fill? Confessedly it does not undertake to replace the Bosworth-Toller, of which it is an abridgment, though with such modifications and emendations of matter as Dr. Sweet's investigations enable him to make. Whose needs is it meant to supply? The title would seem to indicate that it is to be used by the college student, and by the reader who does not require the fuller information, the references and examples, which a large dictionary gives; that it is especially designed for him who asks help for the ordinary reading of Old English, where the object sought is the immediate understanding of a text. At the same time, we are led to believe that the purpose was to give it such critical exactness, and such carefully-chosen content, as to make it a necessity to all Old English scholars. —JEGP, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 2

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