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Essays and Studies in Middle English

9th International Conference on Middle English, Philological School of Higher Education in Wrocław, 2015

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Edited By Jacek Fisiak, Magdalena Bator and Marta Sylwanowicz

This volume is a selection of papers presented at the 9th International Conference on Middle English held at Wyższa Szkoła Filologiczna (Philological School of Higher Education) in Wrocław, Poland, from April 30 to May 3, 2015. The contributors cover a wide range of topics in the area of language and literature. The linguistic papers constitute the majority of contributions and focus on problems from phonology to grammar, semantics and pragmatics. The literary contributions discuss various aspects of Middle English texts.

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From wyrcan to work in Middle English prose texts: A route towards regularisation (Jerzy Wełna)

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Jerzy Wełna

University of Warsaw, Poland

From wyrcan to work in Middle English prose texts: A route towards regularisation

Abstract: The continuations of Old English Class 1 weak verb wyrċ(e)an ‘work’ always belonged among English words enjoying a high frequency of occurrence. But the authors of historical studies either pay little attention to this important verb (e.g. only one brief reference to wyrcan in Stark’s (1982) monograph on weak verbs) or offer rather brief comments on its position in Old and Middle English (Campbell 1959: 331, Berndt 1960: 36, Brunner 1965: 319, Hogg – Fulk 2011: 275 a.o.). The purpose of the present study is to determine the temporal and regional conditioning of the replacement of the conservative forms of wyrc(e)an with palatalisation by the non-palatalised forms with radical <-o-> which became established in the standard language. Also examined will be the first efforts to replace the preterite wrought by the regular form with the dental suffix (worct, wurched, etc.). The data come from around 100 texts in Marcus’s Innsbruck Corpus of Middle English prose. The examination of texts from this corpus is expected to throw a new light on selecting forms of work throughout Middle English.

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