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Foreign Influences on Medieval English

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Edited By Jacek Fisiak and Magdalena Bator

The volume is a selection of papers presented at the International Conference on Foreign Influences on Medieval English held in Warsaw on 12-13 December 2009 and organized by the School of English at the Warsaw Division of the Academy of Management in Łódź (Wyższa Szkoła Przedsiębiorczości i Zarządzania). The papers cover a wide range of topics concerning the impact of Latin, Scandinavian, French and Celtic on Old and Middle English from orthography, morphology and syntax to lexical semantics and onomastics.

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Kinga Sadej-Sobolewska (Academy of Management [SWSPiZ], Warsaw) - On the incorporation of river into English 315

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On the incorporation of river into English Kinga Sdej-Sobolewska, Academy of Management, [SWSPiZ], Warsaw ABSTRACT As a result of a large influx of French borrowings in Middle English, lexical doublets appeared: many loanwords which entered English conveyed meanings already expressed by native words. The rivalry of synonyms led to either a complete loss of one of the two words or a differentiation in their meanings: in most cases it was the Old English word that was displaced. The paper discusses the semantic development in English of the French loanword river, which displaced several Old English words referring to a flowing body of water. The historical thesaurus of English lists the following Old English nouns meaning ‘river’: wæter, lacu, lagus- tream, a, astream, fld, stream, and wæterstream. It seems that the Old English key words de- noting a river were a and fld, which lost their central position in Middle English. The aim of the present paper is to account for the sense changes of the Old English synonyms of river after the introduction of this French word. KEYWORDS: river; Old English; Middle English; lexical rivalry 1. Introduction Following the Norman Invasion, a large number of words were borrowed from French. The domains of lexicon affected by the foreign influence included religion, government, social hierarchy, army, law, science, art, cooking and fashion, which “mirrorred the dominant position held by the Norman élite and their descendants in the religious and secular life of England.” (Nielsen 2005: 100-103) Yet, a large...

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