Noun-adjective compounds as a poetic type in Old English
Old English, poetry, analysis, Noun-Adjective Compounds
Compounding has long been recognized as a characteristic device of Old English poetry, and several studies have examined the ways that compounds contribute to poetic style. Implicit to such studies is the assumption that compounds are somehow used differently in poetry. And while important differences have been noted, such as the higher density of compounds in poetry or the restriction of certain compounds to poetry, few studies have tried to identify formal classes of compounds(like Noun-Adjective or Noun-Noun compounds) that are more characteristic of poetry than prose, even though this would be an obvious approach, since studies in word-formation regularly classify compound patterns by their formal structure. The aim of this paper is to show that at least one formal class of compounds—the Noun-Adjective compounds like lof-georn "praise-eager’’ and hilde-hwate ‘‘battle-brave’’—is used proportionately much higher in Old English poetry than other classes of compounds, and is in that sense a poetic type. This is, of course, an empirical observation, but in trying to account for the characteristics of compounds that would lead to such a distribution, we also gain a better understanding of how compounds contribute to poetry more generally.
Original Publication Citation
Don Chapman and Ryan Christensen. “Noun-Adjective Compounds as a Poetic Type in Old English.” English Studies 88 (2007): 447-64.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Chapman, Don William and Christensen, Ryan, "Noun-adjective compounds as a poetic type in Old English" (2007). Faculty Publications. 6553.
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