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Word pairs in late Middle English prose

Tani, Akinobu (2010) Word pairs in late Middle English prose. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Word Pairs in Late Middle English Prose investigates the use of word pairs (WPs) occurring in various English prose texts in the late Middle English period, i.e. in the fourteenth- and fifteenth-centuries. The research question addressed is a stylistic one: is there a relationship between the use of WPs and the genres of these texts? Characteristics of WPs investigated in the study include (1) the normalized frequency of WPs, (2) the etymological makeup of WPs and (3) repetition of WPs. First, the analysis of WPs in all Chaucer’s prose texts is conducted in comparison with two controls as a preliminary study to examine the different uses of WPs in each prose text and the relationship between these texts in terms of the use of WPs, and to check the validity of the methodology used in the analysis of late medieval English prose. After having ascertained the validity of the methodology, the analyses of WPs follow in a range of other texts with a wider circulation: the Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ, Trevisa’s On the Properties of Things, the Brut or the Chronicles of England, English Wycliffite Sermons, the History of Reynard the Fox, Paris and Vienne, the Works of Sir Thomas Malory, Fortescue’s the Governance of England. Next, the analyses of WPs follow in texts with a more limited audience in mind such as An Anthology of Chancery English, and Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century. Through the analysis of the WPs in these texts, the characteristics of WPs in each text are identified. Then characteristics in what are thought to be similar texts are compared. Statistical methods such as principal component analysis and cluster analysis are then applied to the WP data to investigate and demonstrate generic and stylistic relationships. The results of the study point to a contrast between curial style and traditional native style based on speech, the difference between which can be characterized as the abundance or dearth of WPs and the different ratio of Old French (OF)+OF vs. Old English (OE)+OE types of WPs, respectively. Certain characteristics peculiar to individual prose texts are also revealed. Lastly, the reasons for the use of WPs in different texts are considered. This study reveals the complex use of WPs in different texts, and offers a study of the subject which is more nuanced and delicate than has been previously achieved.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language
Supervisor's Name: Caie, Prof. Graham and Smith, Prof. Jeremy J.
Date of Award: 2010
Embargo Date: 13 April 2015
Depositing User: Mr Toby Hanning
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-3323
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:06
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/3323

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