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From «Beowulf» to Caxton

Studies in Medieval Languages and Literature, Texts and Manuscripts


Edited By Tomonori Matsushita, A.V.C. Schmidt and David J. Wallace

Senshu University has hosted many international conferences on medieval English literature – primarily on Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland – as well as in the related fields of Old Germanic, medieval French and Renaissance Italian literature. These international collaborations inform and contribute to the present volume, which addresses the heritage bequeathed to medieval English language and literature by the classical world.
This volume explores the development of medieval English literature in light of contact with Germanic and Old Norse cultures, on the one hand, and Romance languages, on the other. The book includes a comparative study of Beowulf in the Germanic context, discusses aspects of Piers Plowman and its tradition, and offers philological approaches to Chaucer (especially his Troilus and Criseyde). The articles assembled here collectively suggest how the torches of classical learning were carried from continental Europe to illuminate the pages of medieval English literature.


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Akiyuki Jimura - 9. On the Decline of the Prefix y- of Past Participles -215


Akiyuki Jimura 9 On the Decline of the Prefix y- of Past Participles 9.0. Introduction Present-day English often shows a marked discrepancy between word forms and their pronunciations. The words ‘know’, ‘walk’ and ‘climb’ as spelled do not correspond to their pronunciations, because they respectively lose one or more sounds, such as the initial sound /k/ (aphaeresis), the medial sound /l/ (syncope) and the final sound /b/ (apocope). By contrast, in Middle English word forms more often coincide with their pronunciations. We may easily find the coexisting variant word forms in Middle Eng- lish, when reading the extant manuscripts carefully. Examples include the word forms of past participles with both y-prefix and ø-prefix. At the earliest stages, the prefix ge- was also attached to the stems of parts of speech other than verbs. It has disappeared in present-day English (via the weakened y-/i- forms), though the equivalent form remains in German. This paper discusses a historical perspective or process af fecting the prefix y-, which came to be used only in a few archaic words such as ‘yclept’ or ‘yclad’. In Early Middle English, I will investigate variant word forms in the four manuscripts of Ancrene Wisse written mainly in the thirteenth cen- tury. A is Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 402 (Corpus); C is London, British Library, MS Cotton Cleopatra C. vi (Cleopatra); N is London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero A. xiv (Nero); and V is Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Poet. A. 1 (Vernon). For detailed information...

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