Unlikely-looking Old English verb forms

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This paper argues against the sense of certainty which editions and paradigms of Old English may have given us, texts emended quite often with several editors in agreement based on grammars now almost always unanimous in general and in detail. The manuscripts in which the texts have come down to us contain many rare forms of words, and these, especially when unique, may invite emendation to eliminate what is not easily explained. Unusual verb forms may be evidence that the verbal system of Old English was in a state of flux towards the end of the Anglo-Saxon period, the age to which the manuscripts belong. Textual and grammatical certainty and scholarly unanimity have led to the elimination of verb forms that look unlikely and feel uncomfortable in a grammar-dominated subject.


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