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From «Beowulf» to Caxton

Studies in Medieval Languages and Literature, Texts and Manuscripts

Series:

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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Hiroshi Yonekura - 10. Compound Nouns in Late Middle English: Their Morphological, Syntactic and Semantic Description -229

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Hiroshi Yonekura 10 Compound Nouns in Late Middle English: Their Morphological, Syntactic and Semantic Description1 10.0. Introduction In Old English, compounding words was one of the most ef fective means of increasing vocabulary. This process of word formation played an especially important role in poetic diction. The Norman Conquest, however, trans- formed this linguistic situation;2 the more frequent use of compounds was not observed in Middle English. In the words of Bradley (1904), ‘this ten- dency was fostered by the circumstance that the two fashionable languages, French and Latin, make very little use of composition.’ Consequently, for example, the Old English compound noun læcecræft (originally meaning ‘leechcraft’) gave place to the simple word medicine (OF medicine and L medicina ‘healing or medical art’) in Middle English.3 1 I would like to express my gratitude to A.V.C. Schmidt for his helpful comments. I am also grateful to Professor Larry Walker of Kyoto Prefectural University for his suggestions concerning stylistic improvements in this article. All remaining errors, of course, are my own. 2 See David Burnley, ‘Lexis and Semantics’, in Norman Blake (ed.), The Cambridge History of the English Language. vol. II: 1066–1476 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991): 441, Hans Sauer, Nominalkomposita im Frühmittelenglischen (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1992): 7–10, 719–21 and Hiroshi Yonekura, ‘A Descriptive Study of Word Formation in Chaucer’, PhD dissertation (Tsukuba University, 2004): 596. 3 However, the coumpound lechecraft is still used in Middle English: for example, Chaucer, KnT 2745,...

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