Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, 2016 vol. 51.2


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    “Be war in tyme, approchis neir the end”: The sense of an ending in "The Testament of Cresseid"
    (Adam Mickiewicz University, 2016) Ruszkiewicz, Dominika
    The story of Troilus and Criseyde – whether in Chaucer’s or Henryson’s renditions – is not a story about a new beginning, but a story about an end: the end of love, of hope, and finally – the end of life: Troilus’s life in Chaucer’s poem and Cresseid’s life in Henryson’s. The Scottish version of the story, however, not only evokes the end of an individual life, but also the end of the world. The purpose of this paper is to situate Henryson’s poem in the context of apocalyptic fiction – fiction which is concerned with loss, decay and the finality of things. My contention that the poem belongs to the apocalyptic genre is based on a number of its features, such as the elegiac mood and imagery, the contrast between the past and the present, as well as the pattern of sin-redemption-preparation for death, which applies to Cresseid’s life, but also invites reflection on our own.
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    The swift and secret messenger: John Wilkins’s "Mercury" and the paradoxes of language
    (Adam Mickiewicz University, 2016) Łączyńska, Klaudia
    John Wilkins’s Mercury or the Secret and Swift Messenger: Showing How a Man May with Privacy and Speed Communicate His Thoughts to a Friend at Any Distance was first published in 1641. As a book on cryptography presenting a variety of secret means of communication at a distance it seems to have appeared at just the right time, when the biblical curse of the confusion of tongues was doubled by the curse of political confusion on the brink of the English civil war. However, the book seems to be more than just a detailed account of methods of secret writing; its topic gives the author a chance to present his views on language which he would later develop in his life’s work An Essay towards Real Character and a Philosophical Language published in 1668. The Essay had received much greater critical attention than the early pamphlet, which is usually referred to as merely a prelude to an account of his universal language project. Indeed, in the little book on cryptography, Wilkins already demonstrated his awareness of the conventional character of language and its role within the system of human interactions, as well as advertised a project of philosophical language that would enhance communication between all nations and remedy the curse of Babel. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the value of the pamphlet lies also in the insight that it gives into the seventeenth-century debates on the nature of language and into arguments which were often provided, in equal measure, by theology, Hermetic lore, mythology, literature and early modern science. Wilkins’s meticulous recording of the contradictory views and propositions on language produces a sense of methodological inconsistency that leads to ambiguities and paradoxes. However, in the medley of concepts and the collection of linguistic “curiosities” that Mercury presents, a careful reader will discern the growing mistrust of language as a means of representing reality and as a foundation of knowledge, which was one of the symptoms of the general crisis of representation leading to an epistemological shift that started in the seventeenth century.
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    Linguistic modality and female identity in Chaucer’s "Clerk’s Tale"
    (Adam Mickiewicz University, 2016) Stadnik, Katarzyna
    While exploring the situated nature of conceptual knowledge, the paper investigates the linguistic construction of identity relative to the language user’s sociocultural situatedness, which is regarded as a derivative of the continuity of language and culture. In this functionally-oriented study, we examine how the situatedness of the language user affects their expression of the selves, which in the article we construe in terms of social roles performed by men and women in a specific cultural community. Importantly, we claim that, although the data are historical in nature, they nevertheless help us address the problem of the elusive nature of human identity, a theme recurring in the linguistic study of subjectivity. We seek to explore the general question of experiential motivation behind the frequency patterns of linguistic usage. We illustrate the issue by referring to the historical data taken from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale. The poet’s use of selected modal verbs is contextualized in relation to the late medieval community of his present. We account for the poet’s usage of shul, mot- (in the sense ‘must’), o(u)ght(e), as well as mouen ‘may’, and willen, indicating the need for a more nuanced approach to the way in which the key modal notions of NECESSITY/OBLIGATION are applied in the study of linguistic modality. We thus advocate the adoption of a situated view of the abstract concepts. Furthermore, we argue that the usage patterns concerning the frequency with which the selected modal verbs are used in specific contexts of Chaucer’s narrative might be indicative of the ways in which the identity of a community member was negotiated in the late medieval society of the poet’s present. In conclusion, we indicate the challenges to present-day pragmatic research into the linguistic construction of identity. Specifically, the emphasis is laid on how findings from recent research into situated and social cognition can inform a pragmatic investigation of linguistic subjectivity.
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    Some peculiar forms of Old English verbs
    (Adam Mickiewicz University, 2016) Ogura, Michiko
    In late Old English it became common to find strange verb forms of which had less frequently appeared in earlier texts. It is clear that Old English paradigms started to modify their shapes, though their structure had never been completely established in the first place due to limited data. This article discusses some examples of Old English verbs which show a morphological merger in addition to phonetic, syntactic, or semantic resemblance, e.g., between wendan and gewendan, þyncan and þencan, læran and leornian, (ge)witan and (ge)wītan, blissian and bletsian, and biddan, (be)beodan, and forbeodan, so as to show the natural selection of Old English verbs in the process of lexical conflict.
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    "Bide nu æt gode þæt ic Grecisc cunne": Attitudes to Greek and the Greeks in the Anglo-Saxon period
    (Adam Mickiewicz University, 2016) Timofeeva, Olga
    The Greeks were one of those outgroups to whom the Anglo-Saxons had reasons to look up to, because of the antiquity of their culture and the sanctity of their language, along those of the Hebrews and the Romans. Yet as a language Greek was practically unknown for most of the Anglo-Saxon period and contact with its native speakers and country extremely limited. Nevertheless, references to the Greeks and their language are not uncommon in the Anglo-Saxon sources (both Latin and vernacular), as a little less than 200 occurrences in the Dictionary of Old English (s.v. grecisc) testify. This paper uses these data, supplementing them with searches in the Dictionary of Old English Web Corpus, Brepolis Library of Latin Texts – Series A, and Medieval Latin from Anglo-Saxon Sources, and analyses lexical and syntactic strategies of the Greek outgroup construction in Anglo-Saxon texts. It looks at lexemes denoting ‘Greek’ and their derivatives in Anglo-Latin and Old English, examines their collocates and gleans information on attitudes towards Greek and the Greeks, and on membership claims indexed by Latin—Greek or English—Greek code-switching, by at the same time trying to establish parallels and influences between the two high registers of the Anglo-Saxon period.