Variation, Contact and Change
Edited By Juan Camilo Conde-Silvestre and Javier Calle-Martín
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
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
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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