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Textual Healing: Studies in Medieval English Medical, Scientific and Technical Texts

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Javier E. Díaz Vera and Rosario Caballero

The studies presented in this volume concentrate on different aspects of the medical, scientific and technical varieties of early English used in a wide range of medieval manuscripts. As the growing body of research published in recent years has shown, analysing the language of specialised texts is an opportunity to obtain access to the early history and vernacularisation of learned writing styles. It is an area of study in which all the contributors have considerable expertise, which affords them to present data findings while discussing important methodological issues. In addition, in most cases data derive from specially-designed ‘second-generation’ corpora, reflecting state-of-the-art approaches to historical linguistics, discourse analysis and pragmatics. Theoretical issues concerning the digital edition of medical and scientific texts, their role in social network analysis, and their value in the identification of dialectal specific traits are highlighted by the authors.

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JAVIER E. DÍAZ-VERA

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Analysing the Diffusion of Scientific Metaphors through a Corpus of Middle English Medical Texts 1. Introduction Creating metaphors is a very useful process for designating the new concepts that are constantly emerging in medicine, due to technical and scientific progress. Metaphorical conceptualization has in fact been widely recognized as a widespread phenomenon in medicine and other specialized fields, contributing to theory building and to the development of scientific thought. In the present paper, and taking the cognitive theory of metaphor (as described, among many others by Lakoff & Johnson 1980, 1999; Lakoff 1987; Johnson 1987 and Lakoff 1993), as my departure point, I am going to analyze a set of metaphors used in Middle English medical texts. This chapter aims to describe the origins, usage and diffusion of these medical metaphors. In order to do this, I have analysed the texts contained in the Middle English Medical Texts (MEMT) corpus. This corpus, which includes 86 texts and 495,322 words from three different traditions of medical writing (surgical treatises, specialized texts, and remedy books) from 1375 to 1500, has proven to be adequate for the study of historical English, as shown by the studies carried out by Taavitsainen (2006). My intention is twofold. On the one hand, I will identify and describe some of the metaphors recorded in Middle English texts from the different medical traditions and fields. On the other hand, I will try to show that many of the metaphors related to medicine in use in contemporary medical texts...

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