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Disturbling News from the Thirteenth Century: Variation in a Borrowed Lexeme in Middle English
R. W. McConchie
105-112 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This lexical study examines the early history of distourben, a lexeme complex in early Middle English. This is part of a project using data from the Middle English Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary on the early history of the prefix dis- in English, work which suggests that the early lexemes containing this prefix should be treated individually before attempting to draw conclusions about precisely how it was introduced and vernacularized. The corresponding unprefixed forms seem to have been introduced simultaneously. An aphetic form with initial st- also occurs; the first instances are also again roughly contemporaneous, that is, it is not a borrowing at all. The appearance of other prefixes attaching themselves to the base in later Middle English suggests that the base was then free for recombination. This study adds to our understanding of the processes involved in borrowing a morpheme into Middle English.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2005 Symposium on New Approaches in English Historical Lexis (HEL-LEX)
edited by R. W. McConchie, Olga Timofeeva, Heli Tissari, and Tanja Säily
Table of contents
Printed edition: $210.00