Week 7 (February 25): Loanwords (French!) and semantic change (technology, industrialization, etc.)

0. Pick two words, one from each section. I have picked these words carefully, but you’re welcome to take the risk of choosing your own – there are many more that will work nicely! Nevalainen page 368-370 has a tempting list of French loanwords, for instance.

1. Describe and interpret the entrance and progress of your French loanword into English: you might consider what niche it filled, who used it (look at the kinds of texts cited by the OED) and whether they adopted or adapted it (don’t trust my spelling!), whether it changed in meaning and/or register. Remember that you are the expert on your word, and that it’s helpful for your audience if the separate stages of your argument are over-emphasized and illustrated with memorable illustrative quotations.

-beau (Susana), brochure, cafe (Dane), carte blanche, casserole, civilization (Jennifer), class (Rebecca), connoisseur (Zach), decor, ennui (Cheratra), etiquette (Dale), faux pas, genteel, liaison, madame (Tim), naive, police, rendezvous (Andrea), repartee, restaurant, salon (Brad), soup, souvenir

2. Clearly describe and explain the semantic change(s) illustrated by one of the following words. Spell out what the new meaning has in common with the original meaning, and if possible give us a quotation that illustrates the potential for transition. Use terms appropriate for describing semantic change (see Crystal page 138): these might include “generalization” (often via “metaphor”), “specialization”, “amelioration”, “pejoration”. I strongly recommend that you read the section on semantics in Nevalainen’s “Lexis and semantics” chapter in the third volume of CHEL, although the period she covers is a bit earlier!

-battery, brake, car (Cheratra), coach (Dane), engine (Brad), factory, gear (Tim), key (Andrea), machine (Rebecca), match (Jennifer), mill, motor (Dale), strike (the labour kind!), switch (Zach), vehicle (Susana).