For this blog post, I am reflecting on the first quarter of my independent study — what I’ve learned, what has gone well, what I can improve, and where I’m planning to go next. So far, I think this study has gone really well. In the first stage of it, I used my textbook to learn Old English grammar, while studying vocabulary from a frequency list. This was great, and I especially loved thinking about how Old English’s grammar differs from Latin’s and Greek’s, which I wrote about on my blog. I found that Old English grammar was comparatively not too difficult: it does not have nearly as many endings and inflections to learn as those other languages, and most other features are similar to Modern English. As I finished learning the basic grammar, I started working on translation. At first, I was only reading a small number lines each week, but this has steadily increased as I improve. After reading a few small texts, I read a prose story, “The Fall of Adam and Eve.” Since then, I have been reading “The Battle of Maldon,” a heroic poem. I have really loved reading poetry, in which I have noticed and written about a variety of poetic devices, especially relating to syntax. Old English poetry has a completely different feel from Latin. Poets make quite frequent use of devices like variation, the restatement of a noun with a grammatically parallel phrase, which rarely appears in Roman poetry. Each week, I can tell that I am getting faster and more fluent in my translation. It took some time to get used to reading poetry, but recently I have been able to read about 60-80 lines a week, which I am very happy with. The thing I am most trying to improve on is using a dictionary as little as possible, which means really trying to learn vocabulary and inflections so I can increase my reading speed.
Now, I am starting to shift in focus towards study of Old English translation — specifically translation between Latin and Greek. I am reading a text written by Ælfric in Latin, the “Colloquy,” originally designed to teach Latin to Old English speakers. I am starting with the Old English translation of it, and then I will read the original Latin. Through this, I want to get a basic sense of how Old English and Latin correspond in translation — how do authors translate different grammatical constructions and vocabulary, how often do they change word orders, etc. After this, I will move on to studying a more advanced text, likely poetry, where I expect to see many variations from this basic form of translation. When doing so, I will find a topic to write my final paper on, which will analyze some aspect of a Latin-Old-English translation. Overall, I have really loved this independent study and think it has gone quite well, and I can’t wait to continue!