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“Next Unto the Gods My Life Shall Be Spent in Contemplation of Him”: Margaret Cavendish’s Dramatised Widowhood in Bell in Campo (I&II)

Abstract

Margaret Cavendish (1623–1673) is nowadays remembered as one of the most outspoken female writers and playwrights of the mid-seventeenth-century; one who openly promoted women’s right to education and public displays of creativity. Thus she paved the way for other female artists, such as her near contemporary, Aphra Behn. Although in her times seen as a harmless curiosity rather than a paragon to emulate, Cavendish managed to publish her plays along with more philosophical texts. Thanks to the re-discovery of female artists by feminist revisionism, her drama is now treated as a valuable source of knowledge on the values and norms of her class, gender, and, more generally, English society in the seventeenth century.

Cavendish’s two-partite play Bell in Campo (1662) is a fantasy on the world where women can fight united not only against misogyny but also against an actual enemy. While the two plays seem to be focused on the valiant Lady Victoria and her female “Noble Heroicks”, Bell in Campo likewise offers an odd subplot featuring two widows and their lives without their beloved husbands. In the secular discourse of the seventeenth century, widowhood has been seen as either liberating – as when the woman became the sole owner of her husband’s estate and goods, or regained her own, and thus more independent – or degrading – when she became the not-so-welcomed burden on her children’s shoulders and pockets. Other studies on widowhood likewise state its symbolic function, showing women as the bearers of memory, predominantly of the husband and his virtues, and often attending to the spouse’s site of memory. While discussing the cultural history of properly performed widowhood, seen as the final (st)age of a woman’s life, and taking into account Cavendish’s remarkable biography, the present paper offers a close study of her propositions for appropriate widowhood and its positioning in contrast to other states of womankind as presented in Bell in Campo.1 It will likewise take into account the more or less sublimated evidence for gerontophobia, particularly in relation to women, as shown in Cavendish’s play and seventeenth-century culture.

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Regional Variation in Jespersen’s Cycle in Early Middle English

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the place of origin of the change from Jespersen’s Cycle stage II – bipartite ne + not – to stage III, not alone. We use the LAEME corpus to investigate the dialectal distribution in more detail, finding that the change must have begun in Northern and Eastern England. A strong effect of region and time period can be clearly observed, with certain linguistic factors also playing a role. We attribute the early onset of the change to contact with Scandinavian: North Germanic is known to have undergone Jespersen’s Cycle earlier in its history, and the geographical distribution of early English stage III fits neatly with the earlier boundaries of the Danelaw.

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The Status of Old English Dare Revisited

Abstract

The development of dare in the history of English has played an important role in the literature on grammatical change and (de)grammaticalization. This paper aims to clarify two issues regarding the syntax and semantics of dare in earlier English: when it is first attested with to-infinitives, and to what extent it can be said to have been semantically ‘bleached’ in a number of Old English attestations. The conclusions are, firstly, that dare is not attested with to-infinitives in Old English (pace Tomaszewska 2014), and that a number of Middle English attestations that have been suggested in the literature are not convincing (pace Visser 1963–73; Beths 1999; Molencki 2005). Secondly, it is argued that the co-occurrence of dare and verbs like gedyrstlæcan ‘venture, be bold, presume’ in Old English is not an indication of semantic ‘bleaching’ of dare, and that the verb was not more ‘auxiliarized’ in Old English than it is today.

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Travellers, Connoisseurs, and Britons: Art Commentaries and National Discourse in the Travel Writings of Daniel Defoe and Tobias Smollett

Abstract

This article seeks to explore the interrelationship of two facets characterising eighteenth-century travel writing – art commentaries and national discourse. It is demonstrated that one of the reasons behind the travellers’ repetitious attempts to fashion themselves as connoisseurs was a need to re-affirm their national identity. To this end it offers an analysis of two travel texts coming from two different political moments – Daniel Defoe’s A Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724–1726), constituting an attempt to read the British as a “great” and prosperous nation after the union of 1707, and Tobias Smollett’s idiosyncratic Travels through France and Italy (1766), shedding light on the British attitude towards the South in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War and at the outset of the cult of feeling in Britain. It will also be argued that the numerous art commentaries throughout the narratives had a political agenda and supported the national discourse underpinning the texts.

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Names, Varieties and Ideologies in Revived Cornish

Abstract

The attribution of names is a significant process that often highlights concerns over identity, ideology and ownership. Within the fields of minority languages and Celtic Studies, such concerns are especially pertinent given that the identities in question are frequently perceived as under threat from dominant cultures. The effect of concerns caused by this can be examined with reference to revived Cornish, which became divided into three major varieties in the later twentieth century; by examining the names of these varieties, we can draw conclusions about how they are perceived, or we are invited to perceive them. The motivations of those involved in the Cornish language revival are equally reflected in the names of the organisations and bodies they have formed, which equally contribute to the legitimation of revived Cornish. This paper examines both these categories of name, as well as the phenomenon of Kernowisation, a term coined by Harasta (2013) to refer to the adoption of Cornish personal names, and here extended to the use of Cornish names in otherwise English-language contexts. Examining the names that have been implemented during the Cornish language revival, and the ways in which they are used or indeed refused by those involved, gives us an insight into the various ideologies that steer the revival process. Within the context of the precarious nature of Cornish and Celtic identity, we can identify the concerns of those involved in the Cornish revival movement and highlight the role of naming as an activity of legitimation, showing how the diversity of names that occur reflects an equally diverse range of motivations and influences.

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Scholarship and Language Revival: Language Ideologies in Corpus Development for Revived Manx

Abstract

In this article the role of different ideological viewpoints concerning corpus development within the Manx revival movement in the second half of the twentieth century is explored. In particular, the work of two prominent figures is examined: the Celtic scholar Robert L. Thomson, who published extensively especially on Manx language and literature, and also contributed to the revival, particularly as editor of several pedagogical resources and as a member of the translation committee Coonceil ny Gaelgey, and Douglas Fargher, a tireless activist and compiler of an English-Manx Dictionary (1979). Broadly speaking, Thomson was of a more preservationist bent, cautious in adapting the native resources of the language and wary of straying too far from attested usage of the traditional language, while Fargher was more radical and open especially to borrowing from Irish and Scottish sources. Both were concerned, in somewhat different ways, to remove perceived impurities or corruptions from the language, and were influenced by the assumptions of existing scholarship. A close reading of the work of these scholar-activists sheds light on the tensions within the revival movement regarding its response to the trauma of language death and the questions of legitimacy and authenticity in the revived variety. Particular space is devoted to an analysis of the preface of Fargher’s dictionary, as well as certain features of the body of the work itself, since this volume is probably the most widely consulted guide to the use of the language today. Finally, it is argued that the Manx language movement today would benefit from a reassessment and discussion of the ideological currents of the past and present, and a judicious evaluation of both the strengths and weaknesses of existing reference works.

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Adverbial Markers of Epistemic Modality Across Disciplinary Discourses: A Contrastive Study of Research Articles in Six Academic Disciplines

Abstract

Epistemic adverbs, like other markers of epistemic modality, are concerned with the speaker’s assessment of the truth value of the proposition. In other words, they indicate that the speaker considers certain situations as possible, impossible, probable, certain, or uncertain. At the same time, they signal the author’s presence in the text, and invite the reader to make his/her own conclusions and interpretations. The use of modal markers has been demonstrated to differ across academic disciplines, but the specific differences concerning the use of epistemic adverbs have not been studied systematically. This paper investigates the use of epistemic adverbs in research articles representing six disciplines belonging to three different branches of science: the humanities (linguistics and literary studies), the social sciences (law and sociology), and the natural sciences (physics and medicine), with the aim of establishing discipline-specific tendencies in their use. The study is based on a corpus of 160 research articles compiled by the author. It begins with an attempt at delimiting the category of epistemic adverbs in English. After that, a list of the most frequent epistemic adverbs in the subcorpora of all the disciplines is established and discussed. The study demonstrates that frequent use of epistemic adverbs is largely a property of research articles in the humanities and social sciences. Medical and physics research articles use them significantly less often. The most frequent epistemic adverbs in the research articles under analysis include indeed, perhaps, clearly, certainly, of course, arguably, possibly, and reportedly. Some adverbs appear to be associated with specific disciplines, e.g., clearly (physics, linguistics, sociology, medicine), indeed (linguistics, literary studies, sociology), possibly, reportedly (medicine), arguably (law). The association of individual adverbs with specific disciplines may serve as an important clue to the understanding of their functions, in particular in the case of the less frequent ones, such as arguably and reportedly, which remain significantly understudied. The findings may also prove useful in teaching English for academic purposes.

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Clipped Wings and the Great Abyss: Cognitive Stylistics and Implicatures in Abiezer Coppe’s ‘Prophetic’ Recantation

Abstract

In this article, two major paradigms within cognitive stylistics, the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) and the Conceptual Integration Theory (CIT), are applied as largely complementary approaches to discuss the scope and implicatures of the central metaphorical image of Copp’s Return to the wayes of Truth (1651), a text written by one of the most famous radical preachers of the Civil War period as a plea to be released from prison. The article will focus on how the linguistic and cultural contexts of Coppe’s prophetic writing, in their interaction with the dynamic conceptual relationships of a conceptual integration network, open up new possibilities of perspectivizing and insinuating radically different meanings and implicatures: the use of blends in Coppe’s text has a direct effect on the structure of the analogies that can be made between mental spaces, thereby triggering new meaning effects, supplementary symbolizing patterns, and unpredictable perlocutionary effects.

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Measures in Medieval English Recipes – Culinary Vs. Medical

Abstract

The present paper deals with an analysis of medieval culinary and medical recipes. A major feature which will be of interest is the use of measure terms. The research has been based on material from 14th and 15th century recipe collections. First, the major weight and measure systems which were used in the Middle English period will be presented. Then, the measure terms used in the analysed texts are collected and categorised into three groups: specific, non-specific, and container-related terms. The study, apart from showing the variety of measure terms used at the time, also compares two types of recipes, i.e., medical and culinary.

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Objects, Words, and Religion: Popular Belief and Protestantism in Early Modern England

Abstract

This article deals with selected aspects of popular belief in post-Reformation England as compared to the pre-Reformation popular tradition of the fourteenth and fifteenth century. Through a discussion of the politics of superstition and religiously-shaped concepts of reason in Early Modern England, this article discusses medicinal magic, and the power of objects and words in the context of religion and popular belief, focusing in particular on leprosy and exorcism. By examining the Protestant understanding of the supernatural as well as its polemical importance, the article investigates the perseverance of popular belief after the Reformation and outlines some of the reasons and politics behind this perseverance, while also examining the role of the supernatural in the culture of belief in Early Modern England by tracing the presence and importance of particular beliefs in popular imagination and in the way religion and confessional rhetoric made use of popular beliefs.

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