How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.
Review of Studies in English Historical Lexicography, Lexicology and Semantics
Díaz Vera, Javier E. (2002) A Changing World of Words: Studies in English Historical Lexicography, Lexicology and Semantics. Rodopi, Costerus New Series 141.
Niladri Sekhar Dash, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India
PURPOSE AND CONTENT OF THE BOOK
This volume comprises a number of significant contributions to the fields of English historical semantics, lexicology and lexicography. The papers offer a wide range of interests and approaches to the historical analysis of the English lexicon. Based on the synthesis of different tendencies and main approaches discussed here, the volume is divided into 5 broad parts. Part 1 (Dictionaries of Early English) contains five papers dealing with the information of the work in progress in English Historical lexicography. Part 2 (Early dictionaries of English) contains two papers, which are devoted to the lexical analysis of some of the earliest examples of lexicographic practice in England. Part 3 (Semantic change and reconstruction) has six papers, which focus on the variety of problems related with the reconstruction of meaning and meaning change. Part 4 (Lexical variation and change in the history of English) has six papers, which project on the evolution of the English vocabulary. The papers cover a wide range of topics such as 'neologism and word-loss', 'lexical borrowing and derivation', 'manuscript variation', 'etymological analysis and lexical structure'. Part 5 (The interface between semantics, syntax and pragmatics) has four papers, which aim to highlight the aspects of intricate interface existing between semantics, syntax, and pragmatics.
In "A preliminary design for a syntactic dictionary of Old English on semantic principles" (pp. 3-46) Francisco Cortés Rodríguez and Ricardo Mairal Usón present a semantic domain-based guideline for designing a syntactic dictionary of Old English verbs. Their methodology is based on the Functional Lexematic model (Martín Mingorance 1990), which integrates propositions of the Theory of Lexematics (Coseriu 1977) and Functional Grammar (Dick 1997). Their main objectives are (a) to specify the semantic architecture of the lexicon of a given language, and (b) to represent the knowledge based on the definitions found in standard dictionaries. Since there is no direct access to meaning definitions, they intend to focus on the analysis of syntactic information to create the dictionary. They look at the internal structure of a lexical sub-domain, and consider the hierarchies to reconstruct a modified version of the lexicon. To exemplify, they present a complete analysis of the internal structure of the field of CHANGE, which includes both semantic and syntactic information of the verbs under this heading.
In "The semantic architecture of the Old English verbal lexicon: a historical-lexicographical proposal" (pp. 47-77) Javier E. Díaz Vera proposes a method of internal reconstruction of the verbal predicates that form the lexical sub-domain of TOUCHING in Old English. His takes into account the dictionary definitions found in standard dictionaries of Old English to combine with morphosyntactic and etymological data. Finally, he reconstructs the internal structure of this lexical sub-field and proposes a macronet connection with other domains to cover all the grammatical aspects of the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary. The type of dictionary he proposes here can be visualised as not as a mere list of words and meaning, but as grammar of Old English verbs.
In "Adapting functional-lexematic methodology to the structuring of Old English verbs: a programmatic proposal" (pp. 78-108) Pamela Faber and Juan Gabriel Vázquez González explore the paradigmatic organisation of the Old English lexicon to structure an Old English dictionary. They use the FLM principles to structure the lexical domain of POSSESSION, and adapt the FLM methodology to the analysis of Old English. Their paradigmatic structure of the verbs is enriched with sociocultural information to provide essential inputs about the evolution of the language through ages. Moreover, this structure focuses on the importance of metaphor as a means of lexical creativity, and on the meaning parameters for encoding various sociocultural relationships.
In "Turning the dictionary inside out: some issues in the compilation of historical thesauri" (pp. 109-135), Christian Kay and Irené Wotherspoon refer to their experience of making historical thesauri from historical dictionaries. After a small description on the editorial procedure used in the 'Thesaurus of Old English' (1995) and the 'Historical Thesaurus of English' (1982), they refer to the original paper slips, as well as to the database obtained from the interlinked semantic classifications of words. Next, they discuss the issues related with lexical semantics and lexicography in the context of historical linguistics. Here they integrate both the structure of particular semantic field and insights of individual lexical meaning. Finally, they conclude with a reference to the onomasiologically-organised wordbook, which can tell us about the way in which the English lexicon has developed over the history.
In "Word studies on early English: contexts for a thesaurus of Middle English" (pp. 136-159) Jane Roberts and Louise Sylvester offer a sketch of a thesaurus of Middle English, which they are building. This Middle English Thesaurus is based on the data obtained from the Glasgow Historical Thesaurus to cross-refer to the new evidence for Middle English vocabulary presented in the Middle English Dictionary (1954). During the compilation of the thesaurus they were troubled with the problem of identification of Early Middle English vocabulary, which they overcome with much difficulty. For example, the new evidence for Early Middle English are drawn from the semantic fields of AGRICULTURE and EDUCATION. To dissolve the problem, they clinically examined the representation of word senses for the Early Middle English period by comparing with the Old English, and later with the Middle English period. The process enabled them to consider the links so far unexamined between the Old English vocabulary and the evidence for Old English available within the 'Oxford English Dictionary'.
In "The origin of 17th century canting terms" (pp. 163-196) Maurizio Gotti reflects on the main processes of word-formation followed in the coinage of 'cants', which are referred to in some major lexicographic works of the 17th century. Definitionally, 'cant' is a particular type of jargon spoken by the thieves, anti-socials, and vagabonds - the people who live outside the mainstream of a society. Generally, cant is identified as an 'antilanguage' typical of an 'antisociety', because the activities of its users are considered criminal by the rest of the society. For his study, Gotti uses a corpus of terms obtained from the dictionaries included in Richard Head's 'The Canting Academy' (1673), chosen as a paradigmatic lexicographic work for this research. In his final observation, Gotti has rightly highlighted that some of the compilers of these early canting dictionaries and glossaries showed a high degree of metalinguistic awareness of these word-formation processes.
In "Early dictionaries of English and historical corpora: In search of hard words" (pp. 197-226), Anne McDermott shows how one can carry out path breaking research into the question of the provenance of 'hard words' by using electronic corpora, dictionaries and other available resources. However, the term 'hard word' needed to be defined for better understanding of the readers. What I understand - the term refers to those head-words, which "were never in contemporary usage, but remained as 'dictionary' words, living a kind of half-life, passing from one lexicographer to another and were never really a part of the language" (p. 197). Throughout the her discussion, McDermott tries to establish the fact that most of these words were never used as part of the actual vocabulary of English, but mere entry of dictionary. Finally, she redirects her analysis towards the earliest citations for these 'hard words' recorded in the different editions of the Oxford English Dictionary to highlight that most of these words have their first use in earlier texts.
In "The HORSE family: On the evolution of the field and its metaphorization process" (pp. 229-254), Isabel de la Cruz Cabanillas and Cristina Tejedor Martínez discuss some of the reasons which, have been usually addressed to explain word loss and semantic change. They also examine how these reasons can be applied to the field of generic denominations of 'horse'. They explore "the various ways in which the introduction of new items has an influence on the recipient language and to what extant native words are affected" (p. 229). They take into account the descriptive meaning of the terms, and evaluate the process of metaphorisation, which has affected to some of the items in the process of the development. Finally, to highlight the active role of metaphor in semantic change, they refer to some of the proverbial usage related with horse, mare, ass, donkey, mule, and colt. According to them, "the original straight meanings have shifted to more metaphorical ones, which usually refer to human beings and denote an objectionable quality" (p. 250). In "A semantic analysis of FEAR, GRIEF, and ANGER words in Old English" (pp. 255-274) Malgorzata Fabiszak deploys a cognitive perspective to investigate the meaning of these three emotion words in Old English texts. The study closely refers to the works of Lakoff and Kövecses (1987), and Wierzbicka (1992). After detail analysis of the types of situations and the individual and group reactions they produce, Fabiszak argues that 'fear', 'grief' and 'anger' are deeply interwoven in the texture of the Anglo-Saxon social life. She is probably right in her observation when she argues that fear ensures loyalty. "Disloyalty arouses God's or a king's anger, which reinforces the fear. Toss of a king leads to the subject's grief, because his death may cause internal strife or an aggression from the neighbouring nations" (p. 271).
In "The evolution of the lexical and conceptual field of ANGER in Old and Middle English" (pp. 275-299) Caroline Gevaert reconstructs the lexical field with the information obtained from the Oxford English Dictionary, the Historical Thesaurus of English, and the Toronto Corpus. The author takes into account literal, metaphorical and metonymical sense to refer to the concept expressed by the term. Her analysis of the results in the reconstruction of a lexical field which, shows direct Latin influence and is clearly dominated by the central metaphors SWELL and HEAT. In Middle English, the lexical field is reconstructed, so that the central SWELL metaphor gradually disappears and the HEAT metaphor is reinterpreted, possibly under the influence of the humoral doctrine. She shows that the conceptual field of ANGER undergoes some influence of more Latinate concepts to redress the balance in favour of more Germanic concepts. One must agree with her observation that "variety of evolutions and their interactions can only be discovered by an approach that combines historical, cognitive, and prototype semantics and is based on quantitative corpus analysis" (p. 294).
In "Prototypes in semantic change: A diachronic perspective on abstract nouns" (Pp. 300 - 331), Päivi Koivisto-Alanko analyses the diachronic perspective to Modern English in order to investigate whether the pattern of increasing subjectification in semantic change is discernible in the filed of cognition. The work, is an extension of her previous research (Koivisto-Alanko 2000) where she studies the process of semantic change of the prototypical structure of the noun WIT and its near-synonyms (e.g. ingenuity, intellect, cleverness, understanding, mind, conscience) in late Middle English and early Modern English. She shows that the semantic field of WIT is narrowed down and that some of the changes studied earlier have been completed. However, she finds that the multiple senses of WIT do not disappear entirely; they are rather transferred to its former near-synonyms. At the same time, some new words have entered the field and they appear to carry on the pattern of increasing subjectification in their semantic process of change.
In "A morphodynamic interpretation of synonymy and polysemy in Old English" (Pp. 332-352), Manuela Romano Pozo addresses to some basic issues related to synonymy and polysemy, and explores their relevance to the field of historical lexicography. She begins with an analytical description of some of the intricacies involved between the behaviour of natural chaotic-complex systems and meaning. Next, she directs her analysis towards the interface existing between the morphodynamic and cognitive approaches to language and meaning. After this, Pozo proposes an approach for interpretation of semantic fields as topographic landscapes where different stable structures and catastrophic jumps determine their general frame. Finally, she argues for a description and representation of the overall structure of the semantic field where a combination of semantic, cognitive and social factors interact in mutual interdependence. She affirms, such reconstruction (which includes both synchronic and diachronic aspects) has multiple applications to lexicographic research of other older periods of a language (p. 347).
In "Using dictionary to predict and arrange the past: Giving and transferring landed property in Anglo-Saxon times" (Pp. 353-371) Juan Gabriel Vázquez González exemplifies the onomasiological basis of the Functional-Lexematic Model (Martín Mingorance 1990, Faber and Mairal Usón 1997), which is recently used for semantic analysis of lexical items for inclusion in dictionary. With reference to some English examples, he shows that the lexical domain of POSSESSION is a 'Solomon's mine' for sociocultural information both of the present and the past. To substantiate his observation, he uses the FLM to analyse the evolution of social relationships as represented by the giving and transforming property in Anglo-Saxon England. Thus, he shows how the onomasiological structure of the Old English lexicon reflects the evolution of social relationships in Anglo-Saxon times.
In "Words for MAN in the transition of Piers Plowman" (Pp. 375-409) Merja Black Stenroos initiates a pilot study within the 'Middle English Grammar Project' undertaken in Glasgow and Stavanger since 1997. Here she analyses a single lexical set, words for "man, (male) person", in the scribal transmission of Piers Plowman. Her aim is to study, with focus on a specific group of words, the behaviour of Middle English scribes with regard to lexis (p. 375). The present study focuses on the particular piece of text "as suitable material for the study of word geography" (p. 380). Black constructs two basic assumptions: (a) the usage of any given scribe with regard to lexis is systematic, rather than random, and (b) geographical, rather than textually conditioned, patterns in the distribution of words do occur and can be studied. However, she concludes that development of "a reliable methodology for large-scale surveys of word geography is a task that still lies in future" (p. 405).
In "Diachronic word-formation and studying changes in productivity over time: Theoretical and methodological considerations" (pp. 410-437), Claire Cowie and Christianne Dalton-Puffer explore new empirical methods of tracing change in word formation patterns. Also, they address the general question of how the dynamics of word-formation can be dealt with from a historical perspective. To achieve their goal, they "examine the ways in which morphological productivity is amenable to study in a historical context" (p. 411) from a mainly methodological perspective. By using empirical methods (e.g. productivity as a qualitative, quantitative and diachronic notion), the authors trace various processes of change in word-formation patterns undergone by English in different historical periods, covering the whole history of the language. They note that "morphological productivity is not only a theoretical concept but a measurable property of word-formation rules". Thus, they try to establish a theoretical basis for viewing productivity from a diachronic perspective, which can be operationalised through the measurement of productivity over time in historical corpora (p. 432).
In "Cognitive etymological search for lexical traces of conceptual mappings: Analysis of the lexical-conceptual domain of the verbs of 'POSSESSION' (Pp. 438-463) Eulalio Fernández Sánchez argues for the application of Functional Lexematic Model to the analysis of lexical evolution. The main purpose of this paper is "to stress the relevance of diachronic analysis to the cognitive study of language, in particular, and to the comprehension and understanding of our cognitive system, in general" (p. 438). The author tries to prove the existence of different levels of lexical categorisation through the etymological analysis of the linguistic categories that constitute the lexical domain of the verbs of POSSESSION. However, according to the author, "this kind of analysis must be integrated into a systematic description of the linguistic phenomenon" (p. 446) because several levels of lexical categorisation can be obtained through the dimensional structure of the lexical field.
In "The Innsbruck Prose Corpus: Its concept and usability in Middle English Lexicology" (pp. 464-483) Manfred Markus discusses on some possible applications of historical corpora (with special interest on the 'Innsbruck Prose Corpus', a collection of 129 unabridged Middle English prose texts from 1150 to 1500) to lexical studies. According to Markus, corpus-based research on Middle English words is progressively focusing on the analysis of individual words, often with an interest in their syntax. Normalised and tagged texts are especially useful for this type of research, and the 'Innsbruck Prose Corpus' project will try to contribute to the achievement of that aim. The author offers several illustrative examples of words linked to various linguistic subsections. Finally, the following directions are provided, along which, as the author thinks, the research on Middle English words could move: (a) more research is required on the syntax of function words, (b) the syntax and semantics of fixed expressions and idiomatic phrases should be explored more exhaustively, and (c) pragmatic and stylistic features connected with certain words or word combinations should be elucidated. (p. 479).
In "Words of EMOTION in Old and Middle English" (pp 484-499), Michiko Oguru focuses on different processes of lexical supersession that affected the Old English vocabulary of emotions after the Normal Conquest. To illustrate, the author analyses various Old and Middle English translations, and describes the use of native and loanwords in some late Old and early Middle English alliterative poems. Lexical replacement becomes a regular phenomenon when change in verse forms and literary genre affects the contexts in which words of EMOTION are used. Thus, for several decades in the 13th century, the coexistence of many Old French and Old Norse loanwords with the native words of emotion, contributed to increase the degree of lexical variety that characterised English medieval literature (p. 497).
In "'Touched by an alien tongue': Studying lexical borrowings in the earliest Middle English" (pp. 500-521) Janne Skaffari deals with the study of the lexical borrowings in a historical corpus. To elucidate, the author focuses on the quantitative examination of the French, Scandinavian, and Latin loanwords in the Middle English in one subsection of the Helsinki Corpus. One of the central questions addressed here has to do with the capacity of synchronic material to reveal a diachronic perspective on the transitional period between late Old and early Middle English. Quantified information, although fails to shed light on all issues relevant to the studies of lexicon can serve to illustrate their linguistic developments over ages. "The internal linguistic and textual context in which loanwords are used is likely to provide more material for in-depth explorations of loanwords" (p. 519).
In "Rhetorical factors in lexical-semantic change: The case of 'at least' (Pp. 525-538), Diana M. Lewis examines the importance of rhetorical purpose and rhetorical context in lexical semantic change. To show how 'at least' has developed since Middle English from a purely scalar qualifier into a polysemous expression serving epistemic and evaluative functions in addition to the original representational function. The expression shows evidence of subjectification of meaning, which arises from its use in regular rhetorical patterns that eventually leads to semantic shift via local analogies which allows its extension to new domains (p. 526). Quantitative analysis of the expression from Middle English to the present day shows that co-occurrence of the expression with particular rhetorical pattern to generate new polysemy. Moreover, it acquires an information structuring role by introducing rhetorical satellites, i.e. marking its host unit as informationally subordinate to the adjacent, foregrounded unit(s).
In "Modal change: A corpus study from 1500 to 1710 compared to current usage" (Pp. 539-562), Silvia Molina Plaza uses a database of private letters from the Helsinki Corpus to study modal change in early Modern English as well as to compares it with the modality used in Present-day English. The letters come from various sources and belong to private, informal registers. She provides the definition of the term 'modality' (Stubbs 1996: 202) and gives detailed account of modal verbs, modal adverbs, conjunctions with modal content, and introductory formulae. The modal tokens in her corpus illustrate the diachronic process of grammaticalisation where lexical verbs have progressively acquired grammatical values as modal verbs. "This change of use undergoes a period of structural redundancy, characterised by analogic formations that appear close to the old and new structures and also by the formal duplicity created by the insecurity of an incomplete process"(p. 559).
In "The rise of new meanings: A historical journey through English ways of 'looking at'" (Pp. 563-571) Anna Poch and Isabel Verdaguer Clavera analyse in detail the semantic evolution of the troponyms of 'look at (stare, gaze, gape, gawp, gawk, goggle, glare, glimpse, glance, peek, peep, peer, squint, leer, gloat, and ogle) in the field of visual perception. From a cognitive perspective, they want to show how the present state has been reached, highlighting the diverse semantic domains from which these verbs originate (p. 563) and what factors have motivated the transfer of their senses from one domain to another. A preliminary diachronic survey shows that only a few of the above-mentioned verbs were present in the Old English vocabulary, since most of them entered the English lexicon in the Middle and Modern English period. Their origin is sometimes obscure, but it is noteworthy that their first documented sense is often not related to visual perception. The most striking observation made by the authors is that not only these verbs but also those connected with visual perception, reflect the fact that the eyes, apart from their basic functions of seeing or looking at can also express feelings, emotions and attitudes (p. 571).
In "Lexical analysis of Middle English passive constructions" (Pp. 572-610), Junichi Toyota presents a corpus-based study of the lexical system of the passive voice in Middle English. He focuses on the lexical influence on some functions of the passive in stativisation to disambiguate several types of stative and non-stative construction denoted by the passive: verbal passive, adjectival passive, and resultative, as well as to find some lexical link to these distinctions. As the author states, these three different constructions seem to possess varying degrees of semantic characteristics of the passive: whereas verbal passive creates dynamic reading, adjectival passive and resultative construction create stative reading. However, the author opines, it is better to consider these three constructions as a sort of gradient, where verbal passive is fully passive, adjectival passive is less passive, and resultative construction is an intermediate level between the two (p. 603).
This volume is worthy addition to the recent trend of lexical analysis in the field of historical lexicology, semantics and lexicography (Coleman and Kay 2002). In general, it focuses on three vital issues of lexical study: (a) impact of prototype theory on semantics, (b) cognitive approach to lexico-semantics, and (c) effect of empirical resources on the study of lexical semantics and lexicography. The result is a collective volume, which represents the work of a wide range of scholars in different fields of English Historical Linguistics. With special attention to those linguistic branches that focus on the word as the basic unit of description, analysis and evaluation, this volume has incorporated some works, which aim to travel on a new path never traversed before. It also draws our attention towards some new directions and approaches to lexical study, which will be beneficial to lexicology, lexical semantics, lexicography and historical linguistics. Rich with information, analysis, and introspection the volume indicates a promising growth of the field with regular input from other related disciplines. The lack of a general index is probably the only deficiency of the volume.
Coleman Julie and Christian J. Kay (eds.) (2000) Lexicology, Semantics and Lexicography: Selected Papers from the 4th G.L. Brook Symposium. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Dick, Simon C. (1997) The Theory of Functional Grammar (Part 1: The structure of the clause, Part II: Complex and Derived Constructions) (2 Volumes). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Faber, Pamela and Ricardo Mairal Usón (1997) "Definitional analysis in the Functional-Lexematic Lexicographic Model". Alfinge. 9: 217-232.
Koivisto-Alanko, Päivi (2000) "Mechanisms of semantic change in nouns of cognition: a general model?", in Coleman Julie and Christian J. Kay (eds.) (2002) Lexicology, Semantics and Lexicography: Selected Papers from the 4th G.L. Brook Symposium. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Pp. 35-52.
Lakoff, George and Zoltan Kövecses (1987) "The cognitive model of anger inherent in American English", in Holland, D. and N. Quinn (eds.) Cultural Models in Language and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 195-221.
Martín Mingorance, Leocadio (1990) "Functional grammar and lexematics in lexicography", in Tomaszczyk, J. and B. Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk (eds.) Meaning and Lexicography. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Pp. 227-253.
Stubbs, Michael (1996) Text and Corpus Analysis: Computer-Assisted Studies of Language and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Wierzbicka, Anna (1992) "Defining emotion concepts". Cognitive Science. 16: 539-581.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Niladri Sekhar Dash works in the area of Corpus Linguistics and Language Technology at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India. His research interest includes Corpus Linguistics, Lexicology, Lexical Semantics, and Lexicography. Presently he works on corpus generation in Indian languages, corpus-based lexicography, and lexical polysemy.