A Grammar of the Icelandic or Old Norse Tongue
This volume contains a reprint of the English translation (1843) by Sir George Webbe Dasent of Rask’s Anvising till Isländskan eller Nordiska Fornspråket (1818). This re-edition, with an added bio-bibliography of Rask, should enable the linguist of today to obtain a fairly rounded picture of this important 19th-century scholar who, together with Bopp and Grimm, has justly been ranked among the founding fathers of the comparative-historical study of Indo-European languages.
Rasmus Kristian Rask (1787–1832) did not occupy himself with historical linguistics alone as a comparativist, but also with language as a system based on a notion of structure comprised of three key ideas: the idea of wholeness, the idea of transformation (derivation and composition), and the idea of self-regulation. He formulated theoretical and practical premises for the composition of grammars, and in this he was far ahead of his time and in closer proximity to the linguistic concerns and problems of our era. From both theoretical and pedagogical points of view, Rask’s grammar of Icelandic remains a most remarkable work.