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Reassessing and systematizing affixal meaning definition in OE dictionaries (...)

Raquel Vea Escarza (Universidad de La Rioja)


In this work, an attempt is made to complete and systematize Old English affixal entries
in dictionaries through a lexical database. By and large, the main dictionaries of reference
in this language, namely Clark-Hall, Bosworth & Toller, Sweet and the Dictionary of Old
English, reveal certain limitations that affect uniformity in the organization of the affixal
entries and the degree of detail of their content. This work adopts a structural-functional
approach to the study of the Old English affixed lexicon that permits the explanation of
form and meaning associations in a language that is characterized by its associative nature
and the considerable transparency of the relations holding among its derived lexicon. The
analytical part is based on the data provided by the lexical database Nerthus, which
compiles Old English lexical material with an accurate representation of their
morphological and inflectional morphology, enabling data relations and meaning
construction and description. More specifically, the focus is on the prefixed and suffixed
nominal and adjectival lexicon that has been previously analysed as performers of a
lexical function associated with the expression of an increase or decrease in quantity,
quality or status (Author 2013, 2016, 2018). These three semantically related concepts
correspond to the semantic categories QUANTITY, SIZE and RANK, respectively,
which have been applied to more than two hundred predicates. Within this framework,
each affix has been individually defined in terms of the variety of meanings it conveys,
the source and target categories involved in the process of derivation and the complete
list of predicates that contain the affix in question. By way of illustration, here follows an
example of a suggested entry for prefix forð-:
forð-. As an adjectival prefix, it is attached to adjectives to intensify the property
designated in the base: forð-ancful ‘very thankful’, -gelang, -gerīmed, -gesȳne, -
mǣre, -riht, -snoter. It derives adjectives with a locative meaning, related to the
idea of forwardness: forð-āgoten ‘poured forth’, -bigfērende, -georn, -tīge, -
weard. It also has a figurative locative meaning in some adjectives and, above all,
nouns: forð-āloten ‘prone’, -ātȳdred, -āurnen, -dǣd, -fæder, -gegyrd, -gyrd, -
herge, -sīð, -sige, -spell, -stefn, -weard. It is prefixed to nouns that undergo a
greater charge or responsibility: forð-man ‘man of rank’, -ðegn, -wīf.
This study mainly contributes to gaining a deeper insight into the lexicological and
semantic dimensions of affixal lexicon and to arranging meaning on a methodical basis.
Particularly, and in light of the evidence gathered from a linguistic-based study of affixal
meaning, this work has supplied entries for elements that were not assessed as bound
forms by the main dictionaries of reference, has amended the inaccuracies detected in
some of the entries and has also completed their content.


Congreso Cilc 2021


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Serie: CILC2021: Lexicología y lexicografía basadas en corpus / Corpus-based lexicology and lexicography (+información)