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Change in Life, Change in Language

A Semantic Approach to the History of English

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Maria Begoña Crespo Garcia

This book provides the reader with a description of the semantic change that took place over two periods of the history of English language: Middle English and Early Modern English. In view of the fact that semantic change is the type of change by which the relationship between language and society can be traced best, notes on the socio-historical background of the period have been included. They are followed by the analysis of language change in general in which some of the literature on the topic is reviewed and the author’s interpretation of change as being caused by external factors is made clear. For this reason, terminology and concepts relating to the field of socio-historical linguistics have been incorporated in the analysis. The core of the work is semantic change and the linguistic study of vocabulary items which belong to the field of person-rank nouns. The results of the analysis indicate a tendency towards specialisation in the meaning of lexical categories which runs parallel to specialisation in society.

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