|Title||Technical Vocabulary and Medieval Text Types: A Semantic Field Approach|
This paper seeks to discover in what sense we can classify vocabulary items as technical terms in the later medieval period. In order to arrive at a principled categorization of technicality, distribution is taken as a diagnostic factor: vocabulary shared across the widest range of text types may be assumed to be both prototypical for the semantic field, but also the most general and therefore least technical terms since lexical items derive at least part of their meaning from context, a wider range of contexts implying a wider range of senses. A further way of addressing the question of technicality is tested through the classification of the lexis into semantic hierarchies: in the terms of componential analysis, having more components of meaning puts a term lower in the semantic hierarchy and flags it as having a greater specificity of sense, and thus as more technical. The various text types are interrogated through comparison of the number of levels in their hierarchies and number of lexical items at each level within the hierarchies. Focusing on the vocabulary of a single semantic field, DRESS AND TEXTILES, this paper investigates how four medieval text types (wills, sumptuary laws, petitions, and romances) employ technical terminology in the establishment of the conventions of their genres.
|Journal citation||117 (1), pp. 155-176|
|Publisher||Modern Language Society|