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D. Harry Parkin

Abstract

An important source of localisable Middle English dialectological data has recently become widely accessible, thanks to the published transcription of the 1377, 1379 and 1381 poll tax re-turns by Carolyn C. Fenwick (1998, 2001, 2005). As the only collection of onomastic data from the late fourteenth century with national coverage, the name forms in the records can be analysed to further our understanding of Middle English dialect distribution and change. As with many historical records, the poll tax returns are not without damage and so do not cover the country in its entirety, but provided their investigation is carried out with suitable methodological caution, they are of considerable dialectological value. Using the poll tax data, the distributions of two dialect features particular to the West Midlands (specifically rounding of /a/ to /o/ before nasals and /u/ in unstressed positions) are presented and compared with the patterns given for the same features in Kristensson’s (1987) dialect survey of data from 1290-1350. By identifying apparent discrepancies in dialect distribution from these datasets, which represent periods of no more than 100 years apart, it seems that the spread of certain Middle English dialect features may have changed considerably over a short space of time. Other possible reasons for these distribution differences are also suggested, highlighting the difficulties in comparing dialect data from differ-ent sets of records. Through this paper a case for further dialectological study, using the poll tax returns, is made, to add to the literature on Middle English dialect distribution and to improve our knowledge of ME dialect phonologies at the end of the fourteenth century.

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Carmen Novo Urraca and Laura Pesquera Fernández

Abstract

This article addresses the question of Old English alternations with a view to identifying instances of allomorphic variation attributable to the loss of motivation and the subsequent morphologization of alternations. The focus is on the strong verb and its derivatives, in such a way that the alternations in which the strong verb partakes can be predicted on the basis of phonological principles, whereas allomorphic variation with respect to the strong verb base is unpredictable. Out of 304 derivational paradigms based on strong verbs and comprising 4,853 derivatives, 478 instances have been found of phonologically motivated vocalic alternations. The conclusion is reached that the most frequent alternations are those that have /a/ as source and those with /y/ as target, because /a/ is the point of departure of i-mutation and /y/ its point of arrival. Sixteen instances of allomorphic variation have also been found, of which /e/ ~ /eo/, /e/ ~ /ea/ and /i/ ~ /e/ are relatively frequent.

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Joanna Maciulewicz

Abstract

The aim of the article is to discuss the evolution of the concept of the literary canon in the context of eighteenth-century fiction. The concept of the literary canon has been traditionally associated with timeless, universal values which transcend the ideological conditions of the period in which texts are created. In present criticism, which is shaped by cultural studies, the association of a canon with universality has been challenged. A canon has been recognised by cultural critics as an instrument of an ideological power struggle which presents the values of dominant social groups as universal. The analysis of novels written by Penelope Aubin and Daniel Defoe at the beginning of the eighteenth century demonstrates that the study of literature only from an ideological viewpoint does not account for the workings of the literary canon. Both Aubin and Defoe employ the same formula of fiction, adventure story with a moral commentary, but while Defoe’s fiction has survived in literary histories, Aubin’s stories, after their initial success, fell into oblivion and have been rediscovered only recently by feminist critics. The varying fates of Aubin’s and Defoe’s fiction point to the insufficiency of the definition of canon which binds literary value too strongly with ideology.

Open access

Joanna Jarząb

Abstract

During the twentieth century almost all literary genres came back to prominence in different and alternative forms. The Gothic is no exception to this phenomenon as many a writer made an attempt at using this eighteenth-century genre once again, but adding to it some contemporary elements. Consequently, an abundance of new techniques have been introduced to Gothic fiction to evoke the feeling of horror and terror among the more and more demanding readers of modern times. Still, some writers prefer to return to the traditional concept of the Gothic – as does Iris Murdoch in her novel The Unicorn. The purpose of this article is to analyse the text from the perspective of the Irish Gothic. Those features of the genre which are traditional as well as local are going to be discussed in the context of space as the dominating aspect of the novel. The typical Irish landscape abounding in marshes, bogs and the sea will be contrasted with the inner space of the house, and its resemblance to the old Victorian mansions popular among the Anglo-Irish ascendancy of nineteenth-century Ireland. In what follows, the paper aims at showing how Murdoch’s skilful play with the spatial differentiation between the inside and the outside dislodges other more universal issues, such as the question of freedom, of social taboos and of the different anxieties still present in Irish society today.

Open access

Jerzy Wełna

Abstract

In its post-Norman Conquest development the Old English first person personal pronoun ic underwent transformations which, following the loss of the consonant, finally yielded the contemporary capitalised form I, contrasting with other Germanic languages, which retain a velar sound in the corresponding pronoun. The rather complex change of ich to I involves a loss of the final velar/palatal consonant, lengthening of the original short vowel, and capitalisation of the pronoun. It is argued here that the use of the capital letter was a consequence of vowel lengthening subsequent to the loss of the consonant. This seems to be confirmed by the observation that forms retaining a consonant are extremely rarely capitalised. The data adduced in the present paper will help verify as precisely as possible the distribution of the forms of that pronoun in Middle English dialects in order to determine to what extent the changes were functionally interdependent. The evidence comes from the Innsbruck Corpus of Middle English Prose.

Open access

Miroslawa Buchholtz

Open access

Brian Lowrey

Abstract

In this paper, I shall examine the complements of perception verbs in Old English involving a noun phrase and a present participle. What kind of perception is described by these structures? Do they evoke the perception of an event, or that of an entity? It will be shown here that there are good reasons to believe that an NP + present participle sequence could function as the equivalent of the traditional “AcI” construction when used with perception verbs. I shall also attempt to determine to what extent the syntax of this construction matches the semantics: is the internal argument of the perception verb the NP alone, or some kind of combination of the NP and the participle? This question is particularly interesting in the light of Declerck’s (1982) remarks on participle perception verb complements in modern English. Finally, I shall take a look at morphological parametres: sometimes the participle inflects to agree with the NP, whereas on other occasions it does not. What might the implications of this kind of variation be?

Open access

Magdalena Tomaszewska

Abstract

OE *durran ‘dare’ belongs to a group of the so-called preterite-present verbs which developed weak past tense forms replacing the originally strong forms throughout the paradigm. The present study hypothesizes that the potential sources of this development are related to the decay of the subjunctive mood in Old English. Further, this corpus-based study analyses the status of DARE in Old English, with the findings showing that the verb displayed both lexical and auxiliary verb characteristics. These results are juxtaposed and compared with the verb's developments in Middle English. The databases examined are the corpus of The Dictionary of Old English in Electronic Form (A-G) and the Innsbruck Computer Archive of Machine-Readable English Texts. In both cases, a search of potential forms was performed on all the files of the corpora, the raw results were then analysed in order to eliminate irrelevant instances (adjectives, nouns, foreign words, etc.). The relevant forms were examined with the aim to check the properties of DARE as a lexical and an auxiliary verb, and compare the findings with Molencki’s (2002, 2005) observations.

Open access

Ryszard Bartnik

Abstract

In this article I argue that the developments of countries going through transition from authoritarian to democratic rule are always stamped by numerous references to formerly sanctioned and fully operational institutionalized violence. A perfect exemplification of this phenomenon is [post-] apartheid South Africa and its writing. In the context of the above, both the social and the literary realm of the 1990s might be perceived as resonant with Giorgio Agamben’s ‘concentrationary’, deeply divisive imaginary. Escaping from, and concurrently remembering, past fears, anxieties, yet seeking hope and consolation, the innocent but also the formerly outlawed and victimized along [interestingly enough] with [ex]perpetrators exemplify, as discussed in J. M. Coetzee’s and Z. Mda’s novels, the necessity of an exposure of the mechanism of South African ‘biopoliticization’ of life. Their stories prove how difficult the uprooting of the mentality of segregation, hatred and the policy of bracketing the other’s life as insubstantial, thus vulnerable to instrumental violence, in [post-] apartheid society was. In view of the above what is to be highlighted here is the authorial perception of various attempts at disavowing past and present violence as detrimental to South African habitat. In the end, coming to terms with the past, with the belligerent nature of local mental maps, must inevitably lead to the acknowledgement of guilt and traumatic suffering. Individual and collective amnesia conditioned by deeply-entrenched personal culpability or personal anguish is then construed as damaging, and as such is subject do deconstructive analysis.

Open access

Monika Mazurek

Abstract

In Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, a number of foreigners at various points express their amazement or admiration of the behaviour of Englishwomen, who, like the novel’s narrator Lucy Snowe, travel alone, visit public places unchaperoned and seem on the whole to lead much less constrained lives than their Continental counterparts. This notion was apparently quite widespread at this time, as the readings of various Victorian texts confirm – they often refer to the independence Englishwomen enjoyed, sometimes with a note of caution but often in a self-congratulatory manner. Villette, the novel which, similarly to its predecessor, The Professor, features a Protestant protagonist living in a Catholic country, makes a connection between Lucy’s Protestantism and her freedom, considered traditionally in English political discourse to be an essentially English and Protestant virtue. However, as the novel shows, in the case of women the notion of freedom is a complicated issue. While the pupils at Mme Beck’s pensionnat have to be kept in check by a sophisticated system of surveillance, whose main purpose is to keep them away from men and sex, Lucy can be trusted to behave according to the Victorian code of conduct, but only because her Protestant upbringing inculcated in her the need to control her desires. The Catholics have the Church to play the role of the disciplinarian for them, while Lucy has to grapple with and stifle her own emotions with her own hands, even when the repression is clearly the cause of her psychosomatic illness. In the end, the expectations regarding the behaviour of women in England and Labassecour are not that much different; the difference is that while young Labassecourians are controlled by the combined systems of family, school and the Church, young Englishwomen are expected to exercise a similar control on their own.