Words, Forms, Senses and Texts
Twin-formulae and more in late Middle English: The Historye of the Patriarks, Caxton’s Ovid, Pecock’s Donet
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Twinformulae and more in late Middle English: The Historye of the Patriarks, Caxton’s Ovid, Pecock’s Donet
Hans Sauer, Katowice/Munich/Würzburg1
Twin formulae, also called binomials, doublets, word-pairs (etc.), are phrases consisting of two words, usually connected by and (occasionally also by or, etc.), e.g. power and might (noun + noun), clean and pure (adjective + adjective), begin and commence (verb + verb). Often the members of the pair are roughly synonymous (as in the examples just given), but there are also pairs the members of which are antonymous or complementary (sons and daughters, life and death, bound and free). Twin-formulae exhibit a number of interesting aspects, e.g., their word-class, their frequency, their etymology (native words, loanwords, or a combination), the precise semantic relation between the members of the pair, the order of the elements, and whether the pairs were taken over from the source or newly added by the English author or translator. Twin-formulae have existed throughout the history of English and in various registers, e.g., in legal language, or in Old English double glosses. They were, however, apparently particularly common in late Middle English. They were used to create a rich and ornate style, but occasionally a native word (or an early loanword) also seems to have been added in order to explain a later loanword (cogitation and thought, comprehension and full taking). In the present article I sketch an analysis of the twin-formulae in three different 15th-century texts which also represent...
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