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Medieval multilingualism and the expression of emotion: fear in the Gawain-Poet's texts

Pons-Sanz, Sara ORCID: 2022. Medieval multilingualism and the expression of emotion: fear in the Gawain-Poet's texts. English Language and Linguistics 26 (2) , pp. 361-398. 10.1017/S1360674320000350

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The Gersum Project has significantly developed our understanding of Norse-derived terms in English by providing a highly systematic typology for their identification. However, this paper shows that, in order to fully comprehend the lexical impact that Anglo-Scandinavian contact had on medieval English, we need to go beyond the identification of the Norse-derived terms and explore their process of integration into English. To exemplify the benefits of this approach, the paper analyses the make-up of the lexico-semantic field of EMOTION, particularly FEAR, in the texts attributed to the Gawain-poet, and examines the interaction between native, Norse- and French-derived terms. This analysis moves away from the traditional study of the texts’ vocabulary in relation to their sociohistorical context, considering the terms instead from semasiological, onomasiological and stylistic perspectives. By taking this novel approach, this paper addresses key linguistic and literary topics: the formal and semantic factors that facilitated the integration of Norse-derived terms into this lexico-semantic field and, more broadly, the impact that multilingualism had on the expression of emotions in medieval England; diachronic and diatopic variation in the field; and the Gawain-poet’s artistry and interest in fear as a key emotion closely linked to other affective and cognitive processes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (,
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
ISSN: 1360-6743
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 August 2020
Date of Acceptance: 5 August 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 17:39

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