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Not So Foreign

The French Lexical Element in Middle English Religious Texts

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
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  • 1 Ghent University, Gent, Belgien
  • | 2 Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lissabon, Portugal
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Abstract

The Norman Conquest and its tremendous linguistic impact on the English language is widely acknowledged among scholars and triggered a substantial body of literature. The great influx of French loanwords into the lexis of Middle English not only led to a profound restructuring of the lexicon, but also deeply affected the English morphology and patterns of derivation (Kastovsky 1994), as well as the English syntax to some extent (Smith 2012; Haeberli 2010). However, few studies have focused on a detailed analysis of these loans. Most researchers chose to focus on the quantitative aspects of the period of extensive lexical borrowing in Middle English, without dedicating much attention to the way and the extent to which French loanwords actually integrated and interacted with native vocabulary. This study thus sought to examine some excerpts of Middle English texts in more detail with the aim of getting closer to understanding whether these borrowings were already fully integrated in Middle English by the time these texts were written, whether this integration was determined by internal or external factors, and whether the process itself was abrupt or rather continuous.

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