Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Blue in Old English: An Interdisciplinary Semantic Study

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Blue in Old English: An Interdisciplinary Semantic Study

Article excerpt

C. P. Biggam, Blue in Old English: An Interdisciplinary Semantic Study, Costerus Ns CX (Amsterdam and Atlanta, Georgia: Rodopi, 1997). 333 pp. ISBN 90-420-0148-8. $62.00. A study of the various terms in Old English that may imply the hue 'blue' in their signification; thus blewen, glasen, hawen, weeden, and their compounds (ten lexemes in total). The analysis is commendably in-depth and erudite, examining every occurrence of each word in detail and attempting to account for the possible shades of their referents via fields as diverse as botany, mineralogy, and zoology, as well as exhibiting a solid grasp of both modern colour studies and ancient and medieval textual traditions. This can only represent good news for a subject often too lightly skimmed over in the past, as Biggam's guide to previous work in chapter 2 ably demonstrates.

Research into English-language materials is, however, not exhaustive: a greater consideration of the medieval evidence might further illuminate the semantic range of OS blao, ON blar (ME bla, blamon), and their cognates, for instance. …

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