Folk-taxonomies in Early English
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 587 pages
A folk-taxonomy is a semantic field that represents the particular way in which a language imposes structure and order upon the myriad impressions of human experience and perception. Thus, for example, the experience of color in modem English is structured around an inventory of twelve "basic" color terms; but languages vary in the number of basic color terms used, from thirteen or fourteen terms to as few as two or three. Anthropological linguists have been interested in the comparative study of folk-taxonomies across contemporary languages, and in their studies they have sometimes proposed evolutionary models for the development and elaboration of these taxonomies. The evolutionary models have implications for historical linguistics, but there have been very few studies of the historical development of a folk-taxonomy within a language or within a language family. Folk-Taxonomies in Early English undertakes this task for English, and to some extent for the Germanic and Indo-European language families. The semantic fields studied are basic color terms, seasons of the year, geometric shapes, the five senses, the folk-psychology of mind and soul, and basic plant and animal life-forms. Anderson's emphasis is on folk-taxonomies in Old and Middle English, and also on the implications of semantic analysis for our reading of early English literary texts.
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The Study of Color Terms across Languages
Reconstruction of Color Taxonomies in ProtoIndo
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allegorical Anglo-Saxon animal life-forms autumn basic color terms basic term Beowulf bird blak blue Boethius bright broun brown canonical Catholic Homilies century Chaucer classified color words compounds contrast covert category culture dark deor describes dialects Dictionary early early modern English encoding sequence Erkenwald example fish five senses folk-taxonomy Gamkrelidze and Ivanov Germanic glosses gold Gothic grass gray grceg Greek grene grerb Hebrew herb Hittite horse human hyge hyponym Indo-European Indo-European languages Indo-Hittite interpretatio romana jElfric language Latin Level IA lexicalized linguistic loanword mammal means medieval merismus metaphor Middle English modern English month names noncanonical Old English orange Pearl Poet pentangle plant life-forms poet polysemy Proto-Indo-European purple rede refers sawul semantic soul species names sumer summer symbolic synecdoche taxa taxon taxonomy texts theme tion translation tree treow Trevisa vocabulary Wife's Lament wild winter worm writes wyrm wyrt yellow