Session Title

Polysemy in Old English and Old Norse

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Anya Adair

Organizer Affiliation

Yale Univ.

Presider Name

Shu-han Luo

Presider Affiliation

Yale Univ.

Paper Title 1

Beowulf 120b, "wiht unhǣlo": Polysemous Vocabulary and Monstrous Degeneracy

Presenter 1 Name

Andrew P. Scheil

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Paper Title 2

The Trouble with Joy: Negotiating a Difficult Semantic Field in Old English and Old Norse

Presenter 2 Name

Anya Adair

Paper Title 3

Listing Names and Naming Lists in Early English

Presenter 3 Name

Alexandra Reider

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Yale Univ.

Start Date

14-5-2015 10:00 AM

Session Location

Valley II LeFevre Lounge

Description

Polysemy is a perennial challenge in the study of Old English and Old Norse. Translators, lexicographers, literary critics and historians all face those interpretive challenges that arise when a word straddles several meanings. These difficulties become especially acute where the groups of meanings encompassed by a single term do not map neatly onto modern semantic fields. How are polysemous terms to be translated without losing a vital part of their meaning? How can poets be seen to take advantage of or anticipate audience reactions to the polysemous possibilities of a term? Might the combination of several meanings within a single term challenge and reshape our understanding of early medieval thought?

This panel looks to the problems and potentialities of polysemy in word study: cases where two or more denotations coexist in a single word, where literal and figurative senses differ, or where no single sense seems adequately to unify disparate contexts of use. Inviting exchange between different methodologies, and encouraging the development of new approaches to the challenge of polysemy is a major aim of this panel. This panel’s focus on new methods for the study of polysemous words will participate in and seek to further the range of recent scholarly engagements with words and their multiple meanings.

Anya Adair

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May 14th, 10:00 AM

Polysemy in Old English and Old Norse

Valley II LeFevre Lounge

Polysemy is a perennial challenge in the study of Old English and Old Norse. Translators, lexicographers, literary critics and historians all face those interpretive challenges that arise when a word straddles several meanings. These difficulties become especially acute where the groups of meanings encompassed by a single term do not map neatly onto modern semantic fields. How are polysemous terms to be translated without losing a vital part of their meaning? How can poets be seen to take advantage of or anticipate audience reactions to the polysemous possibilities of a term? Might the combination of several meanings within a single term challenge and reshape our understanding of early medieval thought?

This panel looks to the problems and potentialities of polysemy in word study: cases where two or more denotations coexist in a single word, where literal and figurative senses differ, or where no single sense seems adequately to unify disparate contexts of use. Inviting exchange between different methodologies, and encouraging the development of new approaches to the challenge of polysemy is a major aim of this panel. This panel’s focus on new methods for the study of polysemous words will participate in and seek to further the range of recent scholarly engagements with words and their multiple meanings.

Anya Adair