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Aspects of vocabulary in selected Old English riddles

Digan, Laura (2011) Aspects of vocabulary in selected Old English riddles. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This project proposes a study of aspects of vocabulary in selected Old English Riddles of The Exeter Book as the new field of interdisciplinary semantics (see Biggam 1997 etc) offers a major opportunity for revaluation of these complex texts. Scholars such as Niles (2006) believe that it is crucial in interpretative works to read texts historically, offering readings from an Anglo-Saxon rather than a modern perspective in order to reconstruct a contemporary world-picture. I shall apply these principles to this project, drawing upon evidence and information supplied by major resources (some of which are only recently available), e.g. the Thesaurus of Old English (Roberts and Kay, 2000) the Historical Thesaurus of English (Kay [et al.] 2009), the Toronto Dictionary of Old English (Cameron, Amos and di Paolo Healey, 2007- ) and its accompanying Corpus (di Paolo Healey, 2000). When discussing her use of interdisciplinary semantics in Grey in Old English Biggam says that “the disciplines of linguistic analysis, literary studies, social and economic history, and scientific evidence can all contribute to our understanding of colour statements in text” (Biggam, 1998, 15). Biggam’s methodology in her semantic studies Blue in Old English (1997) and Grey in Old English (1998) is to use each of these disciplines to study each known occurrence of each appropriate word in order to devise a semantic profile of each lexeme. Biggam’s method effectively demonstrates that, contrary to what was previously believed, the Anglo-Saxons used a varied vocabulary to express both the colour blue and greyness. In this study I undertake a linguistic analysis on certain aspects of vocabulary in selected riddles and use social, economic, historical and scientific evidence to find new readings and solutions. In this project I study Riddles 4, 8, 44 and 45 of the Exeter Book and following Biggam’s example I supplement my argument by making reference to some of the following topics: Agriculture during the Anglo-Saxon period (Riddle 4), the Anglo- Saxon’s relationship with birds (Riddle 8) and Anglo-Saxon Sexuality (Riddles 44 and 45). I demonstrate that earlier scholarship is often repeated but that an open mind combined with a socio-historic perspective can provide persuasive new readings and solutions to the riddles.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: old english,anglo-saxons, exter book riddles,riddle 4, riddle 8, riddle 44, riddle 45, interdisciplinary semantics, anglo saxon sexuality, anglo saxon agriculture, double entendre riddles, robin
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language
Supervisor's Name: Lowe, Dr. K.
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Miss Laura Digan
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2943
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:02
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2943

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