Semantic changes in stenc and smell

Condorelli, Marco (2016) Semantic changes in stenc and smell. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 117 (2). pp. 261-288.

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This paper traces semantic changes of stenc and smell between Old and Middle English. These two words are closely related because smell replaced stenc as a neutral word for smell in the Middle English period. Quotations of stenc and smell were collected from the Dictionary of Old English Corpus (diPaolo-Healey (ed.) 2004) and the Middle English Dictionary(Kurath et al. (eds.) 1952–2001) and were subsequently classified semantically. The results point to a complex structure of different semantic categories within and between the words stenc and smell and seem to support the hypothesis that smell eventually replaced the semantic value of stenc. The paper then discusses some of the problems with considering smell as the only cause of the semantic reorganisation discussed in this study, and how there is in fact a complex twist of underlying drivers of the changes.

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