Nicolay Yakovlev’s Theory of Old English Meter: a Reassessment

  • Leonard NeidorfEmail author
  • Rafael J. PascualEmail author


This article gauges the plausibility of Nicolay Yakovlev’s theory of Old English meter. Although he accepts the four-position principle of Eduard Sievers, Yakovlev dissents from the Sieversian tradition by arguing that morphology determines the invariable metrical behavior of every element, that there are no intermediate levels of ictus, and that alliteration is not a structural feature of Old English versification. Yakovlev’s innovations are intended to simplify the Sieversian tradition, but we demonstrate that they actually result in a metrical system that is excessively complex, theoretically incoherent, and empirically inadequate.


Old English metrics Alliteration Kaluza’s law Beowulf Brut Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.University of OxfordOxfordUK

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