For Heaven’s sake

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This chapter deals with the Scandinavian loanwords <i>sky</i> and <i>loft</i> and their role in the configuration of the semantic field concerning &#8220;sky&#8221;, &#8220;air&#8221;, and &#8220;cloud&#8221; during the transition between Old and Middle English. It outlines the etymology and Germanic cognates of the two words and explores the contexts of their first occurrences in Old and Middle English. I examine the relationship between ON <i>sk&#253;</i> and <i>lopt</i> and their Anglo-Saxon cognates, OE <i>sc&#275;o</i> and <i>lyft</i>, reaching the conclusion that they cannot be considered to be competing doublets and that the success of Norse-derived <i>sky</i> and <i>loft</i> over or alongside their native equivalents can be put down to a process of semantic differentiation and specialisation within the semantic field.


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