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Language Change and Variation from Old English to Late Modern English

A Festschrift for Minoji Akimoto


Edited By Merja Kytö, John Scahill and Harumi Tanabe

This collection reflects Minoji Akimoto’s concern with studies of change in English that are theoretically-informed, but founded on substantial bodies of data. Some of the contributors focus on individual texts and text-types, among them literature and journalism, others on specific periods, from Old English to the nineteenth century, but the majority trace a linguistic process – such as negation, passivisation, complementation or grammaticalisation – through the history of English. While several papers take a fresh look at manuscript evidence, the harnessing of wideranging electronic corpora is a recurring feature methodologically. The linguistic fields treated include word semantics, stylistics, orthography, word-order, pragmatics and lexicography. The volume also contains a bibliography of Professor Akimoto’s writings and an index of linguistic terms.


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MERJA KYTÖ, JOHN SCAHILL and HARUMI TANABE Introduction In making idiomaticity a major concern of his earlier publications, Minoji Akimoto took up a topic that involves lexicography, syntax, semantics and diachronic change, and this integration of various approaches has continued to be a feature of his research. The arrangement of the papers in this volume into the sections ‘Syntax and Style’, ‘Words and Semantics’ and ‘Discourse and Pragmatics’ highlights the way that, taken together, they reflect the breadth of the dedicatee’s own work. This introduction responds to the other kind of diversity in Professor Akimoto’s research, its range over the entire history of English, by considering the contributions chronologically. Underlying this range is the importance of empirical evidence to language theory, a shared concern of many of the contributors. Three of the papers are principally concerned with Old English. HIRONORI SUZUKI looks at aspects of element-order that belong to the precise metrical grammar of Old English poetry, and seem not to have reflexes even in the verse of the Middle English alliterative revival. Nevertheless, the tendencies he finds in the ordering of main and modal verbs are relevant to that regularisation of element order which marks the entire history of English. DIETER KASTOVSKY also takes up data specific to the Old English period, Ælfric’s rendering of Latin grammatical terms, and while it is Ælfric’s enterprising making of equivalents from native elements that stands out in comparison with later periods, the extent to which he is prepared to use borrowings that...

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