Providing an ideal introduction to historical semantics, this book offers graduate students and advanced undergraduate students in linguistics and English Language an accessible overview of the structural and cognitive approaches to English historical semantics.
Focusing primarily on Lexical Semantics, the study of word meaning, the book looks at how these approaches help to answer two key questions in Historical Linguistics: how and why languages change.
Considering changes both in the meanings of individual word forms and in larger areas of the lexicon, English Historical Semantics illustrates how data can be found and analysed, and explores how Lexical Semantics interacts with other areas of linguistics.
In particular, the book describes in detail two of the most significant resources in this field: the Oxford English Dictionary and the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.
By using empirical data to study historical semantics, the book provides students with essential tools to investigate new words entering the language, and to study language change. With extended case studies including colour and kinship terms, suggestions for further reading, and exercises designed to stimulate reflection and test understanding, this textbook is an invaluable resource and practical guide designed to help students navigate this large and fascinating field.