Middle English Verbs of Emotion and Impersonal Constructions: Verb Meaning and Syntax in Diachrony

Hardcover | December 15, 2014

byAyumi Miura

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Impersonal constructions in the history of English form a puzzling category, in that there has been uncertainty as to why some verbs are attested in such constructions while others are not, even though they look almost synonymous. In this book, Ayumi Miura tackles this under-discussed questionwith special reference to verbs of emotion in Middle English. Through a careful study of the behaviour of impersonal and near-synonymous non-impersonal verbs, she identifies the factors that determined the presence, absence, and spread of impersonal usage with the verbs concerned. Miura utilizesmodern linguistic approaches, including theories and methodologies adopted in the study of psych-verbs in modern languages, which bear close relevance to impersonal verbs of emotion but have traditionally been researched separately. She also draws on categorizations in the Historical Thesaurus ofthe Oxford English Dictionary and harnesses the online Middle English Dictionary in a novel way, demonstrating that dictionary materials are in fact a valuable tool in the study of early English syntax and semantics. Miura concludes that a range of factors - such as causation, transitivity, animacy of the target of emotion, and duration of the emotion - influenced the choice of impersonal constructions with Middle English verbs of emotion. We can therefore make reasonable generalizations about when impersonalusage was licensed in these verbs. This careful analysis of the correlation between Middle English verbs of emotion and use or non-use in impersonal constructions represents a new empirical and theoretical contribution to the busy research area of impersonal constructions in the history ofEnglish.

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Impersonal constructions in the history of English form a puzzling category, in that there has been uncertainty as to why some verbs are attested in such constructions while others are not, even though they look almost synonymous. In this book, Ayumi Miura tackles this under-discussed questionwith special reference to verbs of emotion ...

Ayumi Miura is an Assistant Professor at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan. She maintains the website "HEL on the Web" for students, teachers, and researchers of the history of the English language, her primary field of research.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 9.21 × 6.3 × 1.18 inPublished:December 15, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199947155

ISBN - 13:9780199947157

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsAbbreviationsList of tables1. Introduction1.1 Aims of the book1.2 Definitions of 'impersonals' in previous studies1.3 Issues to be addressed1.4 Outline of the book2. Theoretical and methodological considerations2.1 Positive and negative evidence for studying the syntax of a historical language2.2 Case studies of near-synonymous verbs in early English2.3 Semantic roles: Descriptive adequacy2.4 Event structure of psych-verbs in modern languages2.5 Summary: Organisational framework of the main data analysis3. Verbs of emotion and the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary3.1 Limiting the field of investigation3.2 The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (HTOED)3.3 Problems with using the HTOED4. Old and Middle English impersonal verbs of emotion: Analysis from dictionary meanings4.1 Initial processes of list-compiling4.2 Pleasure/enjoyment4.3 Mental pain/suffering4.4 Anger4.5 Hatred/enmity4.6 Pity/compassion4.7 Humility4.8 Fear4.9 Summary: Regularities across semantic categories?5. Semantic distinctions between impersonal and non-impersonal verbs of emotion: Evidence from entries in the Middle English Dictionary5.1 Choice of corpora: Using the MED entries as a database5.2 Factors to examine revisited5.3 Verbs of Fear5.4 Verbs of Anger5.5 Verbs of Pity/compassion5.6 Verbs of Humility5.7 Verbs of Hatred/enmity5.8 Verbs of Pleasure/enjoyment5.9 Verbs of Mental pain/suffering5.10 Other verbs of emotion5.11 Summing up6. Concluding remarks6.1 Transitivity of impersonal verbs of emotion revisited6.2 Constellations of properties in diachrony6.3 Correlation with psychological definitions and classifications of 'emotion'6.4 Topics for further research