A lexical skirmish

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Fencing schools proliferated on the continent during the sixteenth century. In the latter half of the sixteenth century, the rapier arrived in Britain from Italy and Spain, bringing with it an entirely new fencing style. The Italian style was most prominent throughout the age of the rapier, gradually ceding dominance to the French style of small sword play in the latter half of the seventeenth century, and each new style introduced new vocabulary into English and Scots. This lexis is currently being re-examined as part of the revision programme for the Third Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED3) and this paper considers how modern specialist knowledge of historical fencing may inform the editorial process.


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