Lone other-language items in later medieval texts

Richard P. Ingham, Louise Sylvester, Imogen Marcus

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Abstract

This paper addresses the use in medieval texts of ‘lone other-language items’ (Poplack and Dion 2012), considering their status as loans or code-switches (Durkin 2014; Schendl and Wright 2011). French-origin and English-origin lexemes in Middle English, respectively, were taken from the Bilingual Thesaurus of Everyday Life in Medieval England, a source of loan words chosen for its sociolinguistic representativeness and studied via Middle English Dictionary citations and textbase occurrences. Four criteria were applied for whether they should be treated as code-switches or as loans: the textual context in which the item appears, the adoption of target language verbal morphology, the length of attestation within the target language of individual lexical items (Matras 2009), and the integration of items into the syntactic structure of nominal phrases in conflict sites for code-switching (Poplack et al. 2015). Results provide little support for code-switching as the channel for the integration of lone other-language items, suggesting rather that individual items of foreign origin were immediately borrowed, consistently with Poplack and Dion’s (2012) treatment of contemporary contact phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-205
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Historical Sociolinguistics
Volume7
Issue number2
Early online date26 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • code-switching
  • French
  • loanwords
  • Middle English

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