Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2214-3157
  • E-ISSN: 2214-3165
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This paper examines semantic change in the adjective divine as evidenced in its attributive constructions in Late Modern American English. Even before modern English times, the word was capable of bearing two meanings, one spiritual and one non-spiritual. However, according to the Oxford English dictionary, the adjectival divine, a Middle English loanword from Old French, was used earlier (fourteenth century) in the spiritual sense “pertaining to God” and later (fifteenth century) in the non-spiritual sense “supremely good,” and further that it was used primarily in the spiritual sense and secondarily in the non-spiritual sense into modern English times. It is with semantic developments regarding these two senses in American English, particularly the rise in frequency and spread in the applicability of the non-spiritual sense of divine in American English, with which we are concerned here. A main object of the investigation is to identify metaphorical conceptualizations that have been responsible for the emergence of conceptual values, which themselves have facilitated the diachronic semasiological patterns observable in extant textual materials. The corpus of historical American English (COHA) is the source of the bulk of the data analyzed.


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