Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Binary Correlations of Middle English One-Root Deverbal Coinages in the OED Textual Prototypes

Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Binary Correlations of Middle English One-Root Deverbal Coinages in the OED Textual Prototypes

Article excerpt


The rise and consolidation of paradigmatic relations in the deverbal lexion can be more fully traced by considering the first attestations of these coinages and their parent verbs. The paper presents the results of a study of one-root deverbal pairs on the basis of especially developed software applicable to the Middle English databese extracted from the entire Oxford English Dictionary (OED). It sheds light on such less studied issues as the internal stratification of Middle English derivation, stochastic attraction of deverbal categories and the speed of the word-forming processes, suggesting new means of visualization modelling.


1. Preliminary remarks

A study of the word forming potential of lexemes over time is of interest for the reconstruction of the role played by the derivational categories at different stages of the history of the word-stock. Multiplicity of deverbal derivation is concerned with the participation of the verb in the creation of at least two derivatives. Depending upon the succession with which one-root deverbal coinages are registered in the written sources, their paradigmatization trends can be revealed.

Learning more about the precedence strategies in one-root derivatives will enable us better to understand the path taken by the lexicon in order to actualize the word-forming potential of parent verbs.

2. Source of evidence

The tracing of the development of the lexicon over time envisages as a source of evidence the text samples in which the lexical items that are of interest for the research occur for the first time. Precedent texts known in corpus linguistics as diachronic textual prototypes of lexemes reflect the fact that a word in question entered the written medium of the language. It is the earliest attestation of a word within the compiled corpus of evidence. In this study we have used the datings of verbs and their coinages as they are given in the 2nd electronic edition of the Oxfotd English Dictionary on CD-ROM, version 3. The criterion for a verb or a deverbative to be included into the corpus is the location of its earliest citation within the time span from 1150 to 1500.

3. Categorization and notational conventions

The corpus approach in historical lexicology envisages specified characteristics tagged to lexical items in the electronically accessible format (cf. Mair 2004, McArthur 1992). Deverbal coinages are tagged with the date of their earliest occurrence and an ordinal number given in brackets after them. These numbers stand for the action noun (1), action noun admitting its own factitive and/or resultative lexicalization(s) (2), agent noun (3), patient noun (4), deverbal adjective (5), present participle (6), passive modal adjective (7), and past participle (8): multiply 1275, multiplying 1380 (1), multiplication 1384 (2) multiplier 1420 (3), multitipliant 1430 (5), multiplying 1425 (6), multiplicable 1471 (7), multiplied 1463 (8). Secondary derivatives from adjectives and participles are tagged with the ordinal numbers from 9 to 16: blamefully 1400 (9), blamefulness 1400 (10), sighingly 1402 (11), sighingness* 1300 (12), notably 1380 (13), notability 1380 (14) advisedly 1375 (15), advisedness 1400 (16). Factitive and/or resultative nouns conclude the list under number 17 on the ground that they are predominantly one-word counterparts of action nouns: [multiplication.sub.1] 1384 [The act or process of multiplying, or increasing the quantity or amount of ...] (2) vs. [multiplication.sup.2] [the state of being multiplied or increased] 1384 (17). This demonstrates epidigmatic derivation. Such coinages arose on the basis of a separate suffixal model of deverbal nominalization quite rarely. The asterisk attached to the word on its right-hand side signals that the respective lexeme attested in ME is labelled by the OED as now archaic. Consequently, in a one-root exemplification ail, some or none of the Middle English lexemes may be in use now: e. …

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