Marta Sylwanowicz (Academy of Management [SWSPiZ], Warsaw) - And this is a wonderful instrument...: Names of surgical instruments in Late Middle English medical texts 231
And this is a wonderful instrument...: Names of surgical instruments in Late Middle English medical texts Marta Sylwanowicz, Academy of Management [SWSPiZ], Warsaw ABSTRACT The issue of language change, especially its mechanism, causes and regularities, has attracted various degrees of attention. While most works are concerned with semantic change, hardly any looks into a particular section of vocabulary. The present study aims to fill a gap which has long existed in English historical linguistic research. The paper attempts at providing a general examination of the names of surgical instruments found in Late Middle English medical texts. Particular attention will be paid to the semantic de- velopment of the OF loan instrument and, subsequently, its various uses in medical compilations. KEYWORDS: medieval medicine; medieval surgery; surgical instruments; Old and Middle English medical texts 1. Middle English surgery and practicioners “Surgery is almost as old as humanity” (Porter 2001: 202). Archeology reveals that surgeons practised at least as early as 10 000 BC. Trepanation of a skull, bonesetting, amputations or minor operating abscesses or tumours and disorders of the ear, eye and teeth have been common procedures undertaken by people involved in healing (shamans, quacks, barbers or physicians) (Porter 2001: 203-204). Although a medical division, surgery (Gk cheirourgia ‘working with the hands, the practice of a handcraft or art’; hence ME hand worchinge) used to be viewed as an inferior practice, being a work of the hand rather than the head. Therefore neither Oxford nor Cambridge offered any surgical training, the only...
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