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Words and Expressions of Emotion in Medieval English

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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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6. Conclusion

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My investigation of the words of emotion in medieval English reached the follow- ing three conclusions: (1) lexical supersession, (2) syntactic continuity and (3) se- mantic ambiguity. Not a few words are replaced by native or foreign words: e.g. (ge)belgan by be angry, anda by envy, (ge)lustfullian and (ge)winsumian by re- joice, gefea by joy, frofor by comfort, milts by mercy, etc. Irre, being borrowed from Latin and then reinforced by French, was replaced by anger, though a native wraðe survived. Lufu and lufian remained in usewithout rivalry, while hatian ousted an Anglian synonym feogan, and a polysemous teona was replaced by anger, grief, envy, reproach, etc., according to context. Some phrasal expressions take part in the process of replacement. Ondrædan was superseded partly by fear and partly by be afraid after the rivalry with be afeard, and gladian by be glad. Bliss and bless has merged phonetically and semantically. ‘Impersonal’ and reflexive con- structions continue throughout the medieval period; ‘impersonal’ constructions are preferred among verbs used intransitively and verbs with the dative of person and the nominative of thing, while reflexive constructions occur with co-referential pronoun with or without self, in which the reflexive function lies not in self but in the juxtaposed personal pronoun. Only a few verbs like (ge)lician, scamian and þyncan show both constructions, while most verbs are used in one or the other construc- tions. Newcomers like anger have taken a long time to settle in a modern sense...

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