ItemThe B-effect, or: How to do literary criticism with a nuclear power-plant(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2010) Stachura, PawełThe essay, in the process of making its meta-critical point, reviews the collection Co-memorative essays on Herman Melville’s ‘Bartleby the scriverner” edited by Janusz Semrau (2009). The collection was published almost simultaneously with the new Polish translation of Melville’s story, published as a companion volume with Gilles Deleuze’s and Giorgio Agamben’s pertinent essays (Melville 2009). There follows a wave of interest among Polish critics, which amounts to a new, local Bartleby industry (Czaplińki 2009; Jankowicz 2009; Kapela 2010). This review is inspired by one important example, a lecture delivered on March 24th, at the Department of Polish Studies of Poznań’s Adam Mickiewicz University, in which one of the preeminent Polish literary critics presented the ‘melancholic vampire’, the predatory writer, the walking death that lingers, does not want to go, stalks, and sucks out the life of his friends and admirers. Although the speech was primarily about Arthur Miller, Bartleby loomed (stalked) behind, until he surfaced, with a reference to the new Polish translation. ItemDubious American license: The first in flight(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2010) Semrau, JanuszThe symbols, colours and slogans on vehicle registration plates are part and parcel of the United States iconography. While not everybody relates readily to Ohio’s license plate motto “Birthplace of Aviation”, everybody seems to know North Carolina’s motto “First in Flight”. (Although the Wright brothers came from Ohio they chose North Carolina as the site for their 1903 groundbreaking experiment.) With the open horizon as the obligatory conceit of the U.S. landscape, North Carolina’s license plate projects a homonymic mis-association with the dominant motif of American popular cultural discourse recognized emblematically by Leslie Fiedler (1960: 318) as the razzle-dazzle of escape. ItemTowards a pragmatic analysis of modals "shall" and "will" in Chaucer's language(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2010) Nakayasu, MinakoThis paper attempts to provide the first systematic analysis of the modals SHALL and WILL in Chaucer’s language from pragmatic viewpoints. In addition to speech acts and alternation in discourse, this study examined modality in detail, which has a close relationship to pragmatic factors. Whereas SHALL is distributed across all kind of modalities, WILL has a limited variety, with a strong preference to dynamic modality. The inventory of speech acts suggests a strong connection to relevant modality, although some cases are not related to any particular modality. WILL again has a more limited variety than SHALL. Incorporating these results into analysis, the scope of examination is extended to the alternation in discourse, i.e., discourse markers, successive employments of the same modal, and alternative uses of both modals. The findings here which other studies would ascribe simply to a matter of variation are in fact well-motivated and controlled by various factors such as modality, speaker-based vs. hearer-based speech acts, and social role. It is suggested that further analysis of discourse and modals in other periods will shed more light on the pragmatic development of the modal and temporal systems in English. ItemNatural Syntax: The English indefinite article(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2010) Orešnik, JanezThe framework of this paper is Natural Syntax initiated by the author in the tradition of (morphological) naturalness as established by Wolfgang U. Dressler and †Willi Mayerthaler. Natural Syntax is a developing deductive theory. The naturalness judgements are couched in naturalness scales, which follow from the basic parameters (or “axioms”) listed at the beginning of the paper. The predictions of the theory are calculated in what are known as deductions, the chief components of each being a pair of naturalness scales and the rules governing the alignment of corresponding naturalness values. Natural Syntax is here exemplified with selected language data bearing on the use of the English indefinite article. Some recent work related to Natural Syntax: Orešnik 2007a–e; 2008a–c; 2009a,b; 2009 (with Varja Cvetko-Orešnik). (Only work published in English is mentioned). ItemOn early pseudo-learned orthographic forms: A contribution to the history of English spelling and pronunciation(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2010) Wełna, JerzyThe history of English contains numerous examples of “improved” spellings. English scribes frequently modified spelling to make English words and some popular borrowings look like words of Latin or Greek origin. The typical examples are Eng. island, containing mute taken from Lat. insula or Eng. anchor ‘mooring device’ (< Fr. ancre), with non-etymological . Although such “reformed spellings” became particularly fashionable during the Renaissance, when the influence of the classical languages was at its peak, “classicised” spellings are also found earlier, e.g. in texts from the 14th century. In the present contribution which concentrates on identifying such earliest influences on spellings in Middle English attention is focussed on the regional distribution of reformed spellings, with a sociolinguistic focus on the type of the text. The data for the study come from standard sources like the Middle English Dictionary (2001) and Oxford English Dictionary (2009). ItemAllomorphy in the plural morpheme of Old English disyllabic neuter a-stem nouns: Analogy and token frequency(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2010) Newman, JohnMany instances of plural number marking in Old English disyllabic neuter a-stem nouns appear uncertain. This is due partly to a want of additional empirical evidence regarding what appears to have been a tension between a high vowel deletion process, by which some disyllabic neuters containing a long root vowel failed to attach the nominative/accusative plural number marker -u, and several analogical extension processes which resulted in irregular attachments of the plural markers -u, -ø, and others. This apparent unpredictability, however, is also due to a lack of agreement about how best to subclassify many disyllabic a-neuters. Various scholars have addressed the problem of the allomorphy at issue here, but their grouping criteria have differed and no one scheme has proven truly satisfactory (cf. Brunner – Sievers 1965; Dahl 1938; Campbell 1959; Wełna 1996). Consequently, determining which disyllabic a-neuters attached the u-plural allomorph regularly and which attached it by analogy as well as which of these neuters suffixed the ø-allomorph regularly and which did so analogically is troublesome. In an attempt to augment our understanding of allomorphy in the plural morpheme of the Old English disyllabic neuter a-stems, this paper analyzes more than 300 plurals culled from both Early and Late Old English texts, and it proposes, unlike previous treatments, that token frequency was crucial to the analogical processes which so often determined plural marker selection in these nouns.