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On Invectives in Natural Language: A Panchronic Study of English Synonyms of ‘Skinny’/‘Fatty’


Agnieszka Grząśko

The author researches selected synonyms of ‘skinny’ and ‘fatty’ in the history of the English language from the perspective of cognitive linguistics. The method employed in grouping the analytical material has been dictated by the nature of the processes of semantic change. The author subdivided the quantum of the analysed lexical items into the following type-groups: zoosemy (animal metaphor), foodsemy (food metaphor), plantosemy (plant metaphor), metonymy, reification, eponymy, onomatopoeia, rhyming slang and varia. Surveying a collection of English dictionaries the author makes an attempt to determine the status of a given synonym in present-day English.

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Chapter 1: The Panorama of Verbal Dishonouring in English with Parallel Examples from other Natural Languages


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Chapter 1:  The Panorama of Verbal Dishonouring in English with Parallel Examples from other Natural Languages

1.0  Introduction

Language registers all the changes that occur in the cultural development of individual nations; indeed, as a result of vocabulary changes and various trends in vocabulary use we are able to observe and formulate the expansive tendencies of modern civilization. Certainly, the primary function of language is to communicate with others, and the way people communicate with others reflects their education, social background, personal characteristics and stereotypes. What is more, language serves to express the fascination, obsession, frustration and threats to and anxieties of the speakers (see Ożóg 2007: 9). Nowadays we observe a growing ubiquity in the usage of foul language, which is a widespread phenomenon both among young and old, male and female, the educated and the uneducated. Although it is so widespread, and – worse still – commonly and tacitly socially accepted, the linguistic interest in the phenomenon of cursing is rather scarce and sporadic, if any. It is glaringly obvious that this part of language use is treated in a perfunctory manner as it is not considered to be a worthy investment of time or resources to pay any serious attention to the symptoms, causes and outcomes of the majority of evils of the present day. Following Goffman (1981), we may say that research on verbal dishonouring in some respects resembles engaging in the dust of the shallows of social activity...

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