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By the way, Tolkein's translation of the old english poem "Gawain and the Green Knight" uses alliteration (repeating consonants) throughout. To that end, he spells Gawain as "Wawain" at times, because the original old english 'G' was sort of a cross between a modern english 'g' and 'w'. He altered the spelling of Gawain/Wawain to keep the alliteration in each line.

Alliteration and poetic metaphor were the main characteristics of Old English poetry. None of this fancy rhyming stuff. Some of the metaphors I remember from Beowulf in college were calling joints 'bone-locks'; the ocean is called the 'whale-road'.

Several hundred years later, there was a renaissance of this type of poetry, and therefore much Middle English poetry is alliterative. "Gawain and the Green Knight" was written in the 14th century (as opposed to Beowulf, which is from the 8th century), and was written in Middle English. So it's really cool that he did that.

-mapletree, former linguistics major
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