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The morphological and semantic types of Old English lost adjectives

Luisa Fidalgo


The aim of this article is to provide a morphological and semantic analysis of the ca. 4,800 Old English adjectives that, having got lost throughout linguistic evolution, are not included in the Oxford English Dictionary. On the morphological side, the category and inflectional class of the base of derivation as well as the affixes and the type of derivational process are taken into account, while the semantic analysis yields a classification of these Old English adjectives based on categories proposed by the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary. The conclusion reached in the morphological analysis is that affixation patterns surviving into Present-day English and more type-frequent affixation patterns show lower percentages of lexical loss than, respectively, less type-frequent and lost affixation patterns. The main conclusion of semantic analysis is that lexical losses of the adjectival class often comprise adjectives denoting abstract qualities.


Old English, adjective, word-formation, semantics, historical linguistics

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Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies

ISSN: 1137-6368