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Master Thesis

From Proper Names to Verbs in English : A corpus-based morpho-semantic study of verbs originating from proper names

Abstract : The study of verbs originating from proper names seems to be of interest for several reasons. When considering proper names referring to human beings, it is natural to believe that this type of proper names is characterized by its use in a restricted timeframe, and so might be the case for the derived neologisms. That is why, it would be ideal to study this kind of neology in a wide corpus including both written and oral data without taking into consideration whether they are recorded in dictionaries, as they might be ephemeral in nature. It is indeed doubtful that the neologisms in (1) could become institutionalized, i.e. enter the dictionary. However, the timeframe of this research does not allow for such a time-consuming approach. That is why I will focus this study on a more available corpus and consider all the verbs originating from proper names which are recorded in a dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary online (from now on OED) was chosen for several reasons. First of all, it is a reference dictionary for the English language, and even though it is based in the United Kingdom, it includes words from different varieties of English. Some consider the OED as “one of the greatest works of the English language” (Cliff, 2000). The second reason pertains to the fact that it is a historical dictionary. As such, no word or phrase is ever deleted from its very rich database which contains around 600,000 words belonging to Middle and Modern English (from 1150 to the present) (‘About’, 2018). Finally, its online availability makes the creation of a corpus easier. The study of verbs originating from proper names allows the researcher to understand the creativity of language users better. Moreover, this topic lies at the interaction between culture – or society – and language. Hence, this study fits in the many linguistic studies that describe how language and culture interact. Finally, the study of this specific corpus raises the question of the longevity of words. As I said earlier, proper names – especially when referring to a person – are time-restricted, hence it is natural to wonder why some of these verbs might become obsolete while others outlive them. In this paper, I will mainly focus on the semantic construction of verbs originating from proper names and attempt to define what kind of semantic relationship can link a denominal verb to its proper name etymon, and what criteria determine its morphology, in other words: to what extent can the meaning and form of the derived verb be predicted from its etymon?
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Master Thesis
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Submitted on : Monday, September 6, 2021 - 10:35:48 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 24, 2021 - 3:22:26 AM

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Aurélie Héois. From Proper Names to Verbs in English : A corpus-based morpho-semantic study of verbs originating from proper names. Linguistics. 2020. ⟨dumas-03335328⟩

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