Chapter 4. Borrowing and copy

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Adamson (1999) demonstrates the importance of “copy” (copia) as a motivationfor lexical borrowing in early modern English. Our paper will take this observationas its starting point. Using data from the Historical Thesaurus of the OxfordEnglish Dictionary to gain an overview of the available words realizing a givenconcept, we will investigate the evidence for the use of each of these words inthe sixteenth century, as recorded in early books that can be accessed via EarlyEnglish Books Online (EEBO). Our study will investigate how far certain wordsare confined to particular registers, and how far spread between registers canbe detected using these resources. It will also examine how far we can identifydiachronically what was the “usual” word realizing a particular meaning, whatwere its marked synonyms, and how these words interacted semantically.


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