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Approaches to Middle English

Variation, Contact and Change

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Edited By Juan Camilo Conde-Silvestre and Javier Calle-Martín

This volume contains a selection of papers presented at the 8 th International Conference of Middle English, held in Spain at the University of Murcia in 2013. The contributions embrace a variety of research topics and approaches, with a particular interest in multilingualism, multidialectalism and language contact in medieval England, together with other more linguistically-oriented approaches on the phonology, syntax, morphology, semantics and pragmatics of Middle English. The volume gives a specialized stance on various aspects of the Middle English language and reveals how the interdisciplinary confluence of different approaches can shed light on manifold evidences of variation, contact and change in the period.
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There are wenches and sluts but no traces of cats or bats: On characteristics of the Middle English conceptualisation patterns within the conceptual category Fallen Woman: Božena Duda

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Božena DudaUniversity of Rzeszow

There are wenches and sluts but no traces of cats or bats: On characteristics of the Middle English conceptualisation patterns within the conceptual category FALLEN WOMAN1

1.Introduction

The phenomenon of sex for sale has been an integral part of human civilisation since antiquity. Lexicographic sources vary as to the quantitative value of historical synonyms of prostitute. For example, Schulz (1975: 72), following Farmer and Henley (1965), argues that there have been around five hundred lexical items in the lexico-semantic system of English which have been used in the sense ‘prostitute’. The majority of the historical synonyms of prostitute are either auspicious or inauspicious in their illocutionary force. This paper aims at analysing whether all mechanisms that may be involved in the formation of cover terms in general (structural, semantic and rhetorical devices) were at work in the formation of Middle English synonyms of prostitute, especially when compared with the mechanisms working in the Early Modern English, Late Modern English and Present-day English periods.

The analysis of the mechanisms involved in the formation of Middle English synonyms of prostitute shows that such formative mechanisms as circumlocution, eponymy, metonymy and zoosemy (animal metaphor) are virtually non-existent, while borrowing and, to a lesser extent, understatement are relatively common. In contrast, in Early Modern English, for example, the growth in the productivity of the mechanism of zoosemy, metonymy and eponymy is observable with the continuous working of the processes of borrowing...

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