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Mrs. Primack's English Class

Kennings and Alliteration

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Understanding the Language of Beowulf

Kennings

 

The kenning is a specialized metaphor made of compound words.  The Anglo-Saxons had a limited vocabulary and kennings were used to create elaborate descriptions.  Kennings can take three forms:

 

a.      possessives

 

example:      sky’s candle  (sun)

 

 

b.     hyphenated compound

 

example:      whale-road  (sea)

 

 

c.      prepositional phrase

 

example:      stallion of the whale-road  (ship)

 

 

1.)  Look back over the lines 233-391.  Locate two examples of each type of kenning.  Identify what each kenning refers to.

 

Possessives:

 

                   1.

 

 

                   2.

 

Hyphenated compound:

 

                   1.

 

 

                   2.

 

Prepositional Phrase

 

                   1.

 

 

                   2.

 

 

2.)      Write two original kennings of your own.

Alliteration

 

Alliteration is the repetition of sounds in words close to one another at the beginning of a word.  Anglo-Saxon poetry is often called alliterative poetry. 

 

 

Example:      funeral flames

 

 

  1. Reread the account of Beowulf’s death (lines 791-828) and identify two examples of alliteration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Write a line of your own that includes alliteration.

 

 

 

 

 

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