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Semantics and Word Formation

The Semantic Development of Five French Suffixes in Middle English


Cynthia Lloyd

This book is about the integration into English of the five nominal suffixes -ment, -ance, -ation, -age and -al, which entered Middle English via borrowings from French, and which now form abstract nouns by attaching themselves to various base categories, as in cord/cordage or adjust/adjustment. The possibility is considered that each suffix might individually affect the general semantic profile of nouns which it forms. A sample of first attributions from the Middle English Dictionary is analysed for each suffix, in order to examine biases in suffixes towards certain semantic areas. It is argued that such biases exist both in real-world semantics, such as the choice of bases with moral or practical meanings, and in distinct aspects of the shared core meaning of action or collectivity expressed by the derived deverbal or denominal nouns. The results for the ME database are then compared with the use of words in the same suffixes across a selection of works from Shakespeare. In this way it can be shown how such tendencies may persist or change over time.


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APPENDIX 1 Alternatives and Coinages in Five French Suf fixes 267


Appendix 1 Alternatives and Coinages in Five French Suf fixes Table 17. -ment: alternatives to earlier or simultaneous forms in other suf fixes Alternatives in -ment Forms in other suf fixes c1400(a1300) advancement a1300 avantage c1330(?a1300) encombrement 1330(?a1300) encombraunce c1330(?c1300) savement c1230(?a1200) salvacioun ?a1400(a1338) vengement c1325(c1300) vengeaunce (1340) martirement c1175(?OE) martirdom a1400(c1300) marterie a1425(?c1380) apparailment c1330(?a1300) apparail ?1425(c1380) governement c1450(c1370) governaunce c1384 misgovernement (c1375) misgovernaunce 1532rev(c1385) commendement c1230(a1200) commendacioun (c1385) accusement ?a1425(c1380) accusacioun 1475(1395) onement (a1300) unioun c1330(?c1300) unite (a1398) temperament (1340) temperaunce c1440(?a1375) attempraunce a1425(?a1400) alleggement c1300(?a1300) allegeaunce a1500(1413) alterment (a1398) alteracioun a1425 ordeinement c1330(?a1300) ordinaunce ?a1475(?a1425) reteinement ?a1400(a1338) retenaunce a1475(1383) retencioun 1431 aquitement ?a1400(a1338) aquitaunce* (1430) aquitaille* ?1457 suppowailment c1450(?a1400) suppowail c1475(1459) reconcilement c1390(c1350) reconciliacioun 1464 resignement a1387 resignacioun 1534(1464) assemblement c1400(?a1300) assembly (1455) assemblaunce 1472/3 heritement c1225(?c1200) heritage 1532rev(c1385) heritaunce a1500 anoiment (c1390) anoiaunce c1500 maintement (a1333) maintenaunce 268 Appendix 1 Table 18. -ment: possible ME coinages Possible coinages on Romance bases Coinages on native bases c1300(c1250) acoupement c1400(?a1387) cursement c1425(?c1380) apparailment c1400(c1390) eggement 1532rev(c1385) conjectement 1391 marrement c1400(c1390) finishment c1425(c1395) onement abataillement a1400 murtherment a1393 conspirement ?a1425(a1415) wonderment (a1398) temperament (1434) legement 1401 annulment c1460(a1449) groundement a1500(1413) alterment a1450 botment aloinement (c1475) brevement ?a1425(a1415) soilment 1422 auctorisement c1436 emblemishment c1450 recurement...

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