LINGUIST List 15.605

Sun Feb 15 2004

Review: Historical Ling/Lexicography: D�az Vera (2002)

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  1. Niladri Sekhar Dash, A Changing World of Words

Message 1: A Changing World of Words

Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 18:40:18 -0500 (EST)
From: Niladri Sekhar Dash <>
Subject: A Changing World of Words

D�az Vera, Javier E. (2002) A Changing World of Words: Studies in
English Historical Lexicography, Lexicology and Semantics. Rodopi,
Costerus NewSeries 141.

Announced at

Niladri Sekhar Dash, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India


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 Cort�s Rodr�guez and
Ricardo Mairal Us�n present a semantic domain-based guideline for
designing a syntactic dictionary of Old English verbs. Their
methodology is based on the Functional Lexematic model (Mart�n
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. D�az 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 V�zquez Gonz�lez 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 Iren�
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

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 Mart�nez 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 K�vecses (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), P�ivi 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 V�zquez Gonz�lez exemplifies the onomasiological basis of the
Functional-Lexematic Model (Mart�n Mingorance 1990, Faber and Mairal
Usy"F3n 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 Fern�ndez S�nchez 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 Us�n (1997) ''Definitional analysis
in the Functional-Lexematic Lexicographic Model''. Alfinge. 9:

Koivisto-Alanko, P�ivi (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 K�vecses (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.

Mart�n 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.


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.
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