This study of the Old English relative clause responds to Bruce Mitchell's "Old English Syntax" (1985). Whereas Mitchell's work covers the entire range of sentence structures in the language, this study provides new insight on a single type - the relative clause. Chapter One investigates two problems of ambiguity associated with relative pronouns in Old English. Whereas Mitchell's ambiguous distinction is important in terms of technical classification, it is also misleading in that a closer examination of the data in context will usually resolve the ambiguity. Still another ambiguity relates to the topic of Chapter Two, the distinction between restrictive and nonrestrictive relative clauses. Arguing against Mitchell, I examine contextual factors other than intonation that will allow readers (Anglo-Saxon and modern) to make the correct distinction. Chapter Three examines the role played by relativization within a poetic style, particularly that of "Beowulf". Passages of high relative-clause concentration generally correspond to scenes of special dramatic tension - in which emotions are heightened but the action of the story is not advanced.
This study will appeal to scholars of Old English, the history of the English language, "Beowulf", and Anglo-Saxon culture.