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Words and Expressions of Emotion in Medieval English


Michiko Ogura

This monograph is a study of words and expressions of emotion found in Old and Middle English texts. Lexical variety, rivalry among synonyms, both native and non-native, and their successive replacement are discussed illustrated with a large number of examples. «Impersonal» and reflexive constructions, which give peculiar features to medieval texts, are examined, focusing on basic verbs of emotion. Words found in the Seven Deadly Sins and the contrasting use of the genitive and the of-phrase in God’s love and the love of God are treated as typical medieval themes. Appendices are added to illustrate the variant forms of these words and expressions in the versions of the Gospels and the Psalter, together with formulaic expressions of emotion in Old English poetry.


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5. ‘Impersonal’ and Reflexive Constructions


5.1 ‘Impersonals’ and Reflexives: Medieval Features Verbs of motion and emotion are often used with a coreferential pronoun, which is likely to function as a reflexive pronoun. One of the reasons is that these verbs are mostly used intransitively and, in the process of the transitivisation, take a reflexive construction: e.g. he wende (intransitive) > he wende him/hine (reflex- ive)1 > he wende hine (transitive); ic ondræde (intransitive) > ic ondræde me (reflexive) > ic ondræde him (transitive). Moreover, some verbs of motion and emotion are used ‘impersonally’, i.e. with the dative of person and with or without hit: (hit) me fareð, (hit) him licað. Since the ‘personal’ construction, i.e. with the nominative of thing and the dative of person, is found in Old English, as well as the fewer instances of the personal construction, i.e. with the nominative of person, the time of the transition from ‘impersonal’ to personal constructions differs according to each verb. 5.2 Statistic Results It seems better to have a look at the general tendency of ‘impersonal’ and reflex- ive constructions in Old and early Middle English. Here I give Tables 10 and 11. Table 10a shows the frequency of syntactic environments of Old English ‘imper- sonal’ verbs2, Table 10b those of Cura Pastoralis (MS Hatton 20), Table 10c those of Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies. These tables are given to show the increas- ing tendency of the ‘impersonal’ verbs used with the nominative of thing, though the increase is rather slow. Table 10a: Syntactic Environments of...

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