New Worlds for Old Words: The impact of cultured borrowing on the languages of Western Europe

Christopher Pountain, Bozena Wislocka Breit (Eds.)

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This volume contains an introduction by the editors and thirteen scholarly studies, half of them in English, half of them in Spanish. The common topic concerns the adoption of words from the past into a later context. The source language is usually Latin, the more modern language is usually Spanish.
The contributors include both established and younger scholars. Steven Dworkin, Gloria Clavería Nadal and Christopher Pountain are among the best-known scholars in this field, and their chapters are comprehensive and wide-ranging: Steven Dworkin concentrates on fifteenth-century borrowings from Latin that came to replace synonymous inherited words; Gloria Clavería considers how such words have been treated in Academy dictionaries; Christopher Pountain shows how mass borrowings of verbs in the -ir conjugation affected the morphological nature of that conjugation itself. There are historical studies of individual words, including síntoma and a couple of Arabisms which survived in Granada (almofia, ‘a shallow cooking vessel’, and tarquín, ‘mud’); of the use of Latinisms by the sixteenth-century author Delicado; and there are studies based in the present day, including two on newspaper journalism (Latinisms in sports headlines, often invariant, such as in Los alter ego de Rafa Nadal, and the use of neological compounds such as necroturismo, ‘graveyard tourism’) and a report from a modern classroom. There is one study of Italian noun-noun compounds, concerning changes over time in the order of the constituents, and one Europe-wide discussion on the survival of ancient words for ‘magic’ and ‘magician’.
The book is consistently scholarly and informative, often original, and at times entertaining. Gloria Clavería Nadal hits the nail on the head as to why the topic is of interest: “Old words have actually become the most natural way for modern languages to name these new worlds created on a daily basis” (p.29), most obviously, but not only, in non-linguistic fields such as science and medicine. Thus this book will make clear why ‘cultured borrowings’ should not be dismissed as irrelevant, as they have tended to be in the past.

Roger Wright
Emeritus Professor of Spanish
University of Liverpool



Introduction (Christopher J. Pountain and Bozena Wislocka Breit, Queen Mary University of London)

Chapter 1: Cultured borrowings in the light of dictionaries (Gloria Clavería Nadal, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Chapter 2: Learnèd borrowings induced by translation: Paratactic lexical groups as interference phenomena in Medieval and Early Renaissance Romance texts (Santiago Del Rey Quesada, Universidad de Sevilla)

Chapter 3: Apuntes sobre la integración de un cultismo médico: la historia de la voz síntoma (Isabel García Ortiz, Queen Mary University of London)

Chapter 4: El latinismo en los titulares de la prensa deportiva española (Susana Guerrero Salazar, Universidad de Málaga)

Chapter 5: Datos psicolingüísticos en torno a la vitalidad y la neologicidad de la composición culta en la prensa escrita en español (Carmen Varo Varo, Universidad de Cádiz)

Chapter 6: Cultismos en el aula de enseñanza de la secundaria (María del Carmen Rodríguez Caballero, Instituto de Educación Secundaria Poeta Claudio Rodríguez, Zamora)

Chapter 7: “Classical” and “modern” languages (Bozena Wislocka Breit, Queen Mary University of London / Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)

Chapter 8: Latinisms as Lexical Substitutes in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spanish (Steven N. Dworkin, University of Michigan)

Chapter 9: Sustituciones léxicas en los arabismos del reino de Granada (siglos XVI y XVII) (Inmaculada González Sopeña, Universidad de Granada)

Chapter 10: Cultured borrowing of verbs: the case of the Spanish ir conjugation (Christopher J. Pountain, Queen May University of London)

Chapter 11: The Impact of New Contacts on an Old Pattern. The Modifier–Modified Order in the Formation of Italian Compounds (Alessandro Carlucci, Universitetet i Bergen)

Chapter 12: Los cultismos en una novela dialogada del siglo XVI: un estudio de sociolingüística histórica (Rocío Díaz-Bravo and Gael Vaamonde, Universidad de Granada)

Chapter 13: Magic, witches and magicians in a semantic and etymological perspective in European languages (Ingmar Söhrman, Göteborgs Universitet)

Index of Topics

Index of words in Romance languages, Latin, Greek, Arabic and English

Lexical borrowing, Classical languages, Romance languages, Corpus linguistics