Lop-Webbe and Henne Cresse: Morphological Aspects of the Scientific Register in Late Middle English

By Moskowich, Isabel; Crespo, Begona | Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies, Annual 2006 | Go to article overview

Lop-Webbe and Henne Cresse: Morphological Aspects of the Scientific Register in Late Middle English


Moskowich, Isabel, Crespo, Begona, Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies


ABSTRACT

The aim of the present paper is to present an approach to the vernacularisation of English scientific texts with special attention to lexicon. Word-formation is a better indicator than other linguistic levels of the extent to which the scientific register is adapted to the vernacular because such vernacularisation can be seen clearly when scientific items reproduce the patterns of the general lexicon. To this end, we will attempt to measure the degree of development of the vernacular scientific register by analysing word-formation processes. It is also our intention to ascertain whether there is a predominance of one particular linguistic stratum in texts of that kind from the late Middle Ages, unveiling the etymological origin of some lexical items of diverse provenance. The paper is therefore divided into four sections. In section 1 the socio-historical context of the scientific register is described briefly. Section 2 covers the processes of lexical enrichment in Middle English due to word-formation. The presentation of the corpus material and the analysis of data is dealt with in the third section. Finally, section 4 contains the conclusions reached in the light of previous research.

1. Socio-historical context

Medieval scholars studied, praised, rejected and criticised the theses of classical authors. In the 12th century medieval scholasticism conceived of science as deduction from assumed principles. A century later, still influenced by the earlier intellectual current, some scholars began to devote themselves to establishing the tenets of natural science: induction, experimentation and mathematics. For a time, the coexistence of both stances induced a kind of chaos. The Late Middle Ages was witness to a transitional intellectual climate, pervaded by theological digressions, matters of faith, and a general interest in achieving an accurate understanding of nature.

Some socio-historical factors, such as growing national consciousness, contributed to the emergence of a vernacular scientific register and the consequent incorporation of English into prestigious fields of knowledge. The development of this specialised variety of English was facilitated by the Lancastrian language policy which attempted to strengthen the position of the vernacular against French (Taavitsainen 2000a, 2000b). However, vernacularisation was an arduous process that lasted around four centuries. The general use of English in the written record of scientific matters was adopted later than other new methodological proposals.

Studies of early scientific writings (Irma Taavitsainen, Paivi Pahta) reveal that the classical format of scholastic thought was still employed before the adoption of empiricism. There are two main external causes: the retention of the classical format was merely a linguistic necessity to cover the vacuum in English technical terminology; and socio-political interests were served in endowing the vernacular with prestige by incorporating Latin linguistic structures and lexical items.

2. Word-formation processes in Middle English

Halliday (1978: 87) has observed that in the field of scientific terminology there are seven strategies for lexico-semantic innovation, namely, reinterpretation of existing words, creation of new words from native resources, creation of new words from foreign resources, borrowing, calquing, creation of locutions and, finally, inventing new words. Of these seven strategies, only three were commonly used at this time: the reinterpretation of existing words to endow them with a specialised meaning, the creation of new words from a native word stock and borrowing, especially from classical languages. We will specifically concentrate on creation in our analysis.

Foreign words were adopted with their own structure, including affixes. Initially, these terms were considered foreign by speakers but as they spread among the speech/discourse community they became familiar terms and so did their affixes (Burnley 1992: 445-446; Runblad 1998; Castairs 2002: 103). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lop-Webbe and Henne Cresse: Morphological Aspects of the Scientific Register in Late Middle English
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.