Review article of Van Gelderen (2018), Analyzing syntax through texts

  • Sune Gregersen Universiteit van Amsterdam
Keywords: Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, editing, textual criticism, Middle Ages, facsimiles


The article critically reviews a textbook on English historical syntax (van Gelderen 2018), which discusses language change from Old to Early Modern English on the basis of manuscript facsimiles. It is argued that while the volume has admirable intentions and is written in an accessible way, it suffers from a number of serious shortcomings, such as a generally poor quality of the facsimiles and frequent mistakes in the transcriptions, translations, and syntactic analyses. I illustrate these problems with numerous examples from the volume and provide alternative readings of a number of text excerpts.