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Aspects of patterning in the vocabulary of Chaucer with particular reference to his courtly terminology

Burnley, J. D. (1971) Aspects of patterning in the vocabulary of Chaucer with particular reference to his courtly terminology. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The present study analyses the senses and sense-relations of approximately fifty words of two major groups signifying benevolence and malevolence within courtly contexts in the works of Chaucer. The analysis is carried out not with individual words alone, but also in such a manner as to indicate how these words enter into patterned relationships of various types and origins, and some of these are described. Though the ultimate contribution of the thesis is conceived to be in terms of a more precise understanding of the conceptual background and stylistic resources of Chaucer's art, thereby furnishing the equipment for a surer and closer criticism of late mediaeval English literature in general, some account is also taken of recent linguistic thought on the structure of the vocabulary and meaning. The problems of analysis and representation of the meaning of vocabulary items and their inter-relationships are considered as a preliminary: structural semantics, conceptual fields, collocations, idiom-formation and context of situation are discussed, and the contribution of linguistic theory to the method of analysis is indicated at some length. The limitations of the ordinary, synchronic model of linguistic description for the study of the lexis and diction of a mediaeval language are demonstrated, and the reconciliation of synchronic with diachronic methods is urged as a corrective. The notion of a fully extensive semantic field in this area of the vocabulary is rejected in favour of the inter-relation of numerous lesser systems, and the importance of diachronic and extra linguistic factors in the study of vocabulary is then illustrated by their role in explaining the origin and development of the lexical, lexico-grammatical and semantic patterns originally isolated by synchronic analysis. By these means a literary critical procedure is envisaged which would combine the insights of literary and intellectual history with the critical objectivity of descriptive linguistics

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:1971
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 09:29

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