By June Casagrande
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Additional resources for Beyond Snobbery Grammar Need not be Cruel to be Cool
A striking case where lack of punctuation in the original (not an error, simply the Old English norm) creates major cruces of literary interpretation concerns the various methods of indicating different speakers at the beginning of the poem. The editors of (b) and (c) view the first seven lines as an introduction by the poet, which is then followed by the Wanderer's own story; the editor of (d), however, sees all except lines 6-7 as the words of the Wanderer, with those two lines an interpolated comment by the poet; and the editors of (e) take the first five lines as a general proposition, followed by two lines of introduction to the Wanderer's story by the poet, and then the Wanderer's story itself.
1 the impression may well have been given that the tenth century was a century of peace. This was hardly the case, but the political fighting and infighting was generally amongst those of the house of Wessex and had little linguistic consequence. Nevertheless, the significant and enduring rise in ecclesiastical power which the century witnessed was linguistically important. This rise took place especially during the reigns of Edgar (959-975), and then, after a short antimonastic interregnum, Ethelred the Unready (978-1016).
Monasticism continued to be of prime importance in the later years of Ethelred's reign (although rarely to good effect) and beyond. At the same time the Schiftsprache continued to spread, though it was sometimes modified to local tastes and needs, as in the case of Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester, archbishop of York and a prominent figure both in the latter part of Ethelred's reign and in the first part of Cnut's. Although the general linguistic situation changed only slowly in response to Norman influences, the Norman Conquest created a much more drastic change in ecclesiastical life.