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What does the Form Ðrowian in the Taunton Fragment Stand For?

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image of Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik

The Taunton Fragment is an eleventh-century bilingual (Latin-Old English) collection of expositions of gospel pericopes. In addition to contributing to understanding of pastoral care in Anglo-Saxon England, it provides invaluable information about linguistic innovations that take place during the transition period from Late Old to Early Middle English. The present article focuses on one such development—the form ðrowian. Taken at its face value, that is, as a II class weak verb meaning ‘to suffer; torment’, it causes discrepancy between the syntactic structure and the lexical meaning in the Old English text, on the one hand, and lack of correspondence between the Latin and Old English rendition, on the other. A close examination of this form in the Old English corpus suggests that it might be the earliest recorded example of the verb throw in the sense ‘to hurl’. The present article proposes that this semantic development originates in the glosses and Latin-influenced texts. Among the major causes of this innovation are polysemy and homonymy resulting from phonological and morphological changes as well as linguistic creativity of the Anglo-Saxon translators, glossators, and scribes.

Affiliations: 1: Department of English Language and Literature, University of Waterloo Waterloo Canada


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