Abstract

This study is a stylometric analysis of the works authored by Ælfric, a well-known Old English (OE) writer and translator. While the basic aim of the investigation is to identify the most typical linguistic features of his texts, the general idea behind the study is to show the extent of inter-textual variation of OE prose works. Ælfric, a very prolific writer, is responsible for ca. 25% of all prose records of this language. We employ stylometric techniques to show that Ælfric's style involves relatively frequent use of specific phrases initiated by function words (e.g., the prepositions mid and on) and grammatical constructions (e.g., adverbial clauses of reason). Our analysis demonstrates that there are some striking discrepancies between Ælfric and other (mostly anonymous) OE authors. This finding leads to the more general conclusion that individual stylistic preferences are an important aspect of research on Old English syntax and phraseology.

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