Advertisement

Neophilologus

, Volume 98, Issue 4, pp 657–673 | Cite as

The Language of Beowulf and the Conditioning of Kaluza’s Law

  • Leonard Neidorf
  • Rafael J. Pascual
Article

Abstract

In Beowulf, there are 106 verses in which second compound elements are unambiguously distributed into positions of resolution or non-resolution on the basis of etymological length distinctions that became phonologically indistinct early in the Anglo-Saxon period. The conditioning behind this linguistic regularity (Kaluza’s law) has been the subject of considerable dispute. R. D. Fulk argued that this regularity was phonologically conditioned: the Beowulf poet consistently distinguished between etymologically long and short desinences because he composed before they became phonologically indistinct. Some scholars have sought to explain this regularity by proposing that it was semantically or morphologically conditioned, while others have invoked oral tradition and narrative considerations in their efforts to explain it. The present article gauges the relative probability of these competing hypotheses and demonstrates that the hypothesis of phonological conditioning is the only tenable explanation. It is therefore probable that Beowulf was composed in Mercia prior to the year 725, by which time distinctions of etymological length had become phonologically indistinct.

Keywords

Beowulf Old English meter Historical phonology Kaluza’s law Anglo-Saxon literature 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Amos, A. C. (1980). Linguistic means of determining the dates of Old English literary texts. Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America.Google Scholar
  2. Bliss, A. J. (1958). The metre of Beowulf. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  3. Cable, T. (1974). The meter and melody of Beowulf. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cable, T. (1994). Syllable weight in Old English meter: Grids, Morae, and Kaluza’s law. Diachronica, 11, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clark, G. (2014). Scandals in Toronto: Kaluza’s law and transliteration errors. In L. Neidorf (Ed.), The dating of Beowulf: A reassessment (pp. 219–234). Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  6. Cronan, D. (2004). Poetic words, conservatism, and the dating of Old English poetry. Anglo-Saxon England, 33, 23–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Frank, R. (2007). A scandal in Toronto: The dating of ‘Beowulf’ a quarter century on. Speculum, 82, 843–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Freud, S. (1999). The interpretation of dreams. (J. Crick, Trans.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fulk, R. D. (1992). A history of Old English meter. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  10. Fulk, R. D. (1998). Secondary stress phenomena in the meter of Beowulf. Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 3, 279–304.Google Scholar
  11. Fulk, R. D. (2007). Old English meter and oral tradition: Three issues bearing on poetic chronology. Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 106, 304–324.Google Scholar
  12. Fulk, R. D. (2014). Beowulf and language history. In L. Neidorf (Ed.), The dating of Beowulf: A reassessment (pp. 19–36). Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  13. Hutcheson, B. R. (2004). Kaluza’s law, the dating of Beowulf, and the Old English poetic tradition. Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 103, 297–322.Google Scholar
  14. Kaluza, M. (1896). Zur Betonungs- und Verslehre des Altenglischen. In Festschrift zum siebzigsten Geburtstage Oskar Schade (pp. 101–134). Königsberg: Hartungsche Verlagsdruckerei.Google Scholar
  15. Kaluza, M. (1909). Englische Metrik in historischer Entwicklung dargestellt. Berlin: E. Felber.Google Scholar
  16. Kuryłowicz, J. (1970). Die sprachlichen Grundlagen der altgermanischen Metrik. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität Innsbruck.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬.Google Scholar
  17. Lapidge, M. (2000). The archetype of Beowulf. Anglo-Saxon England, 29, 5–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Minkova, D., & Stockwell, R. P. (1995). Review of Fulk 1992. Language, 71, 359–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Neidorf, L. (2013a). Lexical evidence for the relative chronology of Old English poetry. SELIM 20, 1–42.Google Scholar
  20. Neidorf, L. (2013b). Scribal errors of proper names in the Beowulf manuscript. Anglo-Saxon England, 42, 249–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Neidorf, L. (Ed.). (2014). The dating of Beowulf: A reassessment. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  22. Pascual, R. J. (2013). Three-position verses and the metrical practice of the Beowulf poet. SELIM 20, 43–73.Google Scholar
  23. Pascual, R. J. (forthcoming). Ælfric’s rhythmical prose and the study of Old English metre. English Studies. Google Scholar
  24. Russom, G. (1987). Old English meter and linguistic theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Russom, G. (2002). A bard’s-eye view of the Germanic syllable. Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 101, 305–328.Google Scholar
  26. Suzuki, S. (1996a). Preference conditions for resolution in the meter of Beowulf: Kaluza’s law reconsidered. Modern Philology, 93, 281–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Suzuki, S. (1996b). The metrical organization of Beowulf: Prototype and isomorphism. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Weiskott, E. (2012). A semantic replacement for Kaluza’s law in Beowulf. English Studies, 93, 891–896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wurzel, W. U. (2000–2004). Morphologisierung: von der Phonologie zur Morphologie. In G. E. Booij, C. Lehmann & J. Mugdan (Ed.), Morphologie: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Flexion und Wortbildung (Vol. 2, pp. 1600–1610). Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Society of FellowsHardvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Universidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

Personalised recommendations