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Klaudia Łączyńska

Abstract

John Wilkins’s Mercury or the Secret and Swift Messenger: Showing How a Man May with Privacy and Speed Communicate His Thoughts to a Friend at Any Distance was first published in 1641. As a book on cryptography presenting a variety of secret means of communication at a distance it seems to have appeared at just the right time, when the biblical curse of the confusion of tongues was doubled by the curse of political confusion on the brink of the English civil war. However, the book seems to be more than just a detailed account of methods of secret writing; its topic gives the author a chance to present his views on language which he would later develop in his life’s work An Essay towards Real Character and a Philosophical Language published in 1668. The Essay had received much greater critical attention than the early pamphlet, which is usually referred to as merely a prelude to an account of his universal language project. Indeed, in the little book on cryptography, Wilkins already demonstrated his awareness of the conventional character of language and its role within the system of human interactions, as well as advertised a project of philosophical language that would enhance communication between all nations and remedy the curse of Babel. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the value of the pamphlet lies also in the insight that it gives into the seventeenth-century debates on the nature of language and into arguments which were often provided, in equal measure, by theology, Hermetic lore, mythology, literature and early modern science. Wilkins’s meticulous recording of the contradictory views and propositions on language produces a sense of methodological inconsistency that leads to ambiguities and paradoxes. However, in the medley of concepts and the collection of linguistic “curiosities” that Mercury presents, a careful reader will discern the growing mistrust of language as a means of representing reality and as a foundation of knowledge, which was one of the symptoms of the general crisis of representation leading to an epistemological shift that started in the seventeenth century.

Open access

Hanna Rutkowska

Abstract

This paper is a case study examining the choice and interaction of stylistic devices employed in The Schoole of Vertue, Francis Segar and Robert Crowley’s manual of good manners for children issued between 1582 and 1687. It was designed to convince its readers that particular patterns of behaviour were socially beneficial and worth following. In order to enhance the attractiveness, persuasiveness, and mnemonic qualities of the text, several stylistic devices are employed in the manual, including, for example, rhymes, acronyms, as well as binomials. It is generally agreed that repetitive patterns (especially binomials) are typical of formal registers, and particularly plentiful in legal and literary texts in Early Modern English, but the present study shows that similar rhetorical devices were also readily employed in the less formal and elevated style of manuals of good behaviour. Another rhetorical device frequently used in the manual under consideration consists in addressing the reader directly with the second person singular pronoun, especially in imperative constructions, thus creating an ambiance of emotional closeness, characterising the relationship between the master and the pupil.

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Michiko Ogura

Abstract

In late Old English it became common to find strange verb forms of which had less frequently appeared in earlier texts. It is clear that Old English paradigms started to modify their shapes, though their structure had never been completely established in the first place due to limited data. This article discusses some examples of Old English verbs which show a morphological merger in addition to phonetic, syntactic, or semantic resemblance, e.g., between wendan and gewendan, þyncan and þencan, læran and leornian, (ge)witan and (ge)wītan, blissian and bletsian, and biddan, (be)beodan, and forbeodan, so as to show the natural selection of Old English verbs in the process of lexical conflict.

Open access

Maureen Mulligan

Abstract

This article offers a discussion of two books by British women which describe travels in Spain during the post-war period, that is, during the dictatorship of General Franco. The aim is to analyse how Spanish culture and society are represented in these texts, and to what extent the authors engage with questions of the ethics of travelling to Spain in this period. Two different forms of travel - by car, and by horse - also influence the way the travellers can connect with local people; and the individual’s interest in Spain as a historical site, or as a timeless escape from industrial northern Europe, similarly affect the focus of the accounts. The global politics of travel writing, and the distinction between colonial and cosmopolitan travel writers, are important elements in our understanding of the way a foreign culture is articulated for the home market. Women’s travel writing also has its own discursive history which we consider briefly. In conclusion, texts involve common discursive and linguistic strategies which have to negotiate the specificity of an individual’s travels in a particular time and place. The authors and books referred to are Rose Macaulay’s Fabled Shore: From the Pyrenees to Portugal (1949) and Penelope Chetwode’s Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalusia (1963).

Open access

Olivera Kusovac and Jelena Pralas

Abstract

Repetition as a linguistic and stylistic device extensively used in Tennessee Williams’s plays has been noticed by many. At the same time, more psychologically-inclined scholars have frequently drawn parallels between Williams’s plays and his own experiences and emotional conflicts. In an attempt to combine the two perspectives, this article will explore the function of repetitions as indicators of trapped emotions in Williams’s celebrated and award-winning play The Glass Menagerie. Starting from the stylistic theoretical background, but at the same time taking into account the psychological insights into the link between Williams’s life and work through some basic concepts of Freud and Lacan, an attempt will be made to demonstrate that in this play linguistic repetition appears as an obsessive expression of the characters’ emotions as well as those of the dramatist himself, making him repeat and relive both his experiences and his emotions. The authors will first introduce the concept and functions of repetition as a linguistic and stylistic device and then explore its representative instances in individual characters and their meanings, ending with the parallels which can be drawn between the characters’ and the dramatist’s own experiences and emotions expressed or intensified through repetitions.

Open access

Joanna Kopaczyk, Matylda Włodarczyk and Elżbieta Adamczyk

Abstract

In this paper we introduce the research plan for the preparation of a searchable electronic repository of the earliest extant legal oaths from medieval Poland drawing on the expertise in historical corpus-building developed for the history of English. The oaths survive in the overwhelmingly Latin land books from the period between 1386 and 1446 for six localities Greater Poland, in which the land courts operated: Poznań, Kościan, Pyzdry, Gniezno, Konin and Kalisz. A diplomatic edition of the oaths was published in five volumes by Polish historical linguists (Kowalewicz & Kuraszkiewicz 1959–1966). The edition is the only comprehensive resource of considerable scope (over 6300 oaths from the years 1386–1446) for the study of the earliest attestations of the Polish language beyond glosses. Recognising some limitations, but most of all its unparalleled coverage of the coexistence of Latin and the vernacular, the ROThA project embarks on transforming the edition into an open up-to-date digital resource. We thus aim to facilitate research into the history of Polish and Latin as well as of the legal system and the related social and linguistic issues of the period.

Open access

Katarzyna Stadnik

Abstract

While exploring the situated nature of conceptual knowledge, the paper investigates the linguistic construction of identity relative to the language user’s sociocultural situatedness, which is regarded as a derivative of the continuity of language and culture. In this functionally-oriented study, we examine how the situatedness of the language user affects their expression of the selves, which in the article we construe in terms of social roles performed by men and women in a specific cultural community. Importantly, we claim that, although the data are historical in nature, they nevertheless help us address the problem of the elusive nature of human identity, a theme recurring in the linguistic study of subjectivity. We seek to explore the general question of experiential motivation behind the frequency patterns of linguistic usage. We illustrate the issue by referring to the historical data taken from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale. The poet’s use of selected modal verbs is contextualized in relation to the late medieval community of his present. We account for the poet’s usage of shul, mot- (in the sense ‘must’), o(u)ght(e), as well as mouen ‘may’, and willen, indicating the need for a more nuanced approach to the way in which the key modal notions of NECESSITY/OBLIGATION are applied in the study of linguistic modality. We thus advocate the adoption of a situated view of the abstract concepts. Furthermore, we argue that the usage patterns concerning the frequency with which the selected modal verbs are used in specific contexts of Chaucer’s narrative might be indicative of the ways in which the identity of a community member was negotiated in the late medieval society of the poet’s present. In conclusion, we indicate the challenges to present-day pragmatic research into the linguistic construction of identity. Specifically, the emphasis is laid on how findings from recent research into situated and social cognition can inform a pragmatic investigation of linguistic subjectivity.

Open access

Ewa Ciszek-Kiliszewska

Abstract

The aim of the present study is to thoroughly analyse the prepositions and adverbs meaning ‘between’ in the works of a Late Middle English poet John Lydgate. As regards their quality, aspects such as the etymology, syntax, dialect, temporal and textual distribution of the analysed lexemes will be presented. In terms of the quantity, the actual number of tokens of the prepositions and adverbs meaning ‘between’ employed in John Lydgate’s works will be provided and compared to the parallel statistics concerning Middle English texts collected by the Middle English Dictionary online and the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse.

The most spectacular finding is that John Lydgate regularly uses atwēn, twēn(e) and atwix(t)(en), which are recorded in hardly any other Middle English texts. Moreover, the former two lexemes, and sporadically also atwix(t)(en), produce the highest number of tokens of all lexemes meaning ‘between’ in each analysed Lydgate’s text, which is unique in the whole history of the English language.

Open access

Wojciech Drąg

Abstract

In “Discourse in the Novel” Mikhail Bakhtin argues that heteroglossia - a diversity of voices or languages - is one of the essential properties of the novel. The distinct languages spoken by individual characters (referred to as “character speech”), he maintains, inevitably affect “authorial speech”. In experimental fiction, where “authorial speech” is often eliminated altogether, one can speak of the most radical instance of novelistic polyphony. Whereas in The Sound and the Fury, The Waves and B.S. Johnson’s House Mother Normal in place of the narrator the reader is presented with several parallel voices which offer an alternative version of some of the same incidents, Will Eaves’s The Absent Therapist (2014) comprises 150 one- or two-page monologues, each of which is delivered by a different nameless speaker. The book, described by reviewers as an “experimental novella”, a “miniature novel”, and an “anti-novel”, is devoid of any frame that would account for the coexistence of so many stories. The only interpretive clues are provided in the paratext: the title and the dedication from 1 Corinthians (“There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification”). They appear to invite the reading of the entire text as an amalgam of disparate (but also, in large part, desperate) voices united by their addressee - the figure of the therapist who is not there. The aim of the article is to examine Eaves’s assemblage of voices and outline the tenuous relationship between the sections. The analysis of common themes and motifs that provide a degree of qualified unity to the book’s multiple monologues is situated in the context of fragmentary writing (as practised, among others, by Burroughs and Barthes) and its postmodernist aesthetics of the collage.

Open access

Radosław Dylewski

Abstract

The onset of Professor Jacek Fisiak’s scholarly career is marked by his 1961 Ph.D. dissertation devoted to the lexical influence of English upon Polish. This study, conducted 55 years ago, offers a multilayered analysis and sets the standards of studies on lexical transfer from English to Polish for the years to come. The present article is a tribute to Fisiak’s first scholarly endeavor; it examines the fate of lexical items comprising Fisiak’s corpus in the second decade of the 21st century. More specifically, by conducting searches in the National Corpus of Polish as well as a Google search, the paper checks which borrowings to the Polish language listed and scrutinized by Fisiak gained popularity, which fell out of use, and which underwent semantic changes.