Skip navigation

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The semantic shift in the adjective ill
Authors: Molencki, Rafał
Keywords: Języki obce studia i nauczanie; Języki obce używanie
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Citation: M. Wysocka, B. Leszkiewicz (red.), "On language structure, acquisition and teaching : studies in honour of Janusz Arabski on the occasion of his 70th birthday" (S.78-83). Katowice : Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego.
Abstract: In this article I trace the semantic development of the adjective and adverb ill in English, whose history strongly corroborates LEECH’S (1981) semantic transfer rules and TRAUGOTT’S (1989, 1995) theory of subjectification. The illustrating language material comes from the electronic versions of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Middle English Dictionary (MED) and the source references are marked according to the conventions of their lexicographers. The modern translation of the medieval examples is my own. The adjective ill appeared in English in the early 13th c. as a Norse loanword and it did not acquire its modern prototypical sense of ‘sick, unwell’ until the Early Modern English times. The original sense of the Norse adjective illr was ‘bad’, as in the following quotation from the Old Icelandic Snorra Edda: (1) Skaði’s Marriage 100: ulfa þytr þóttumk illr vesa hjá soengvi svana (quoted after GORDON, 1957: 100). ‘The wolves’ howling seemed to me to be bad as compared with the seabirds’ singing’. The same sense (often contrasted with the adjective god ‘good’) is also found in the earliest English uses of the adjective in the Ormulum: (2) ?c1200 Orm. (Jun 1) 54: 3a þa þatt wærenn gode menn, 3a þa þatt wærenn ille. ‘Both those that were good men and those who were bad’. The word bad(de) of obscure origin (cf. OED, MED) is not attested in English until the late 13th c. The usual adjective corresponding to modern bad in Old English was yfel and it continued to be used in Middle English, e.g. (3) a1425(?a1400) RRose (Htrn 409) 4899: Youthe...makith hym love yvell company. ‘Youth makes him love evil company.
ISBN: 9788322618530
Appears in Collections:Książki/rozdziały (W.Hum.)

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Molencki_The_Semantic_shift_in_the_adjective_ill.pdf400,69 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
Show full item record

Uznanie autorstwa - użycie niekomercyjne, bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Polska Creative Commons License Creative Commons