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The Synonyms of «Fallen Woman» in the History of the English Language


Bozena Duda

This data-oriented study aims at providing an onomasiological account of the historical synonyms of the term fallen woman from Old English up to Early Modern English. It focuses on linguistic mechanisms which are at work in the formation of euphemisms and dysphemisms semantically linked to the conceptual category Fallen Woman. Additionally, the book highlights the historical and cultural variations in the approach to sex relations in different parts of the world and in different epochs. The cognitive methodological apparatus is the core of the analytical part of the work. The results of the axiologically oriented analysis point to the prevailing tendency of female-specific lexical items to undergo the process of pejoration with the passage of time.
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The issue of sex for sale is beyond any conceivable doubt culturally and socially topical, in terms of both human everyday verbal intercourse and the written literature on the subject published worldwide for a variety of reasons and with diverse intentions. Outside the world of language studies, suffice it to mention here Brundage (1987), Karras (1996), Trumbach (1998), Self (2003), Binnie (2004), Cook (2004), Outshoorn (2004) and McAnulty and Burnette (2006) as some of the most recent studies of the subject. From a linguistic point of view the roots of the analysis of pejoration of female-specific lexical items – which frequently accompanies the rise of negatively loaded women words – herald back to Bechstein (1863), and the study was continued in the first half of the 20th century by, among others, Jaberg (1901-1905) and Schreuder (1929) in his most extensive study Pejorative Sense Development in English. In the second part of the 20th century Schulz (1975), in the short, yet comprehensive study related to the morally negatively tinted nouns within the conceptual category FEMALE HUMAN BEING, opened a new phase in the linguistic enquiry into the semantic development of female-specific vocabulary. Other more recent contributions to the research in this field include Kramarae and Treichler (1985), Mills (1989) and Kövecses (2006), while in Polish tradition such works as Kleparski (1990, 1997), Kochman-Haładyj (2007a, 2007b), Kochman-Haładyj and Kleparski (2011) and Duda (2013) formulate many answers to the questions posed by the pejorative development of female-specific vocabulary at various...

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