Abstract and Keywords
Research on the history of English has often been undertaken in a somewhat atomistic spirit, with an emphasis on particular areas of phonology, morphology, syntax, and (to a far lesser degree) lexicon, or on aspects of what Ferdinand de Saussure termed “external history.” However, there is no attempt to take a broader view of the overall direction in which the English language was going. This article argues that the history of English is closely linked with the history of ideas and spiritual culture. It looks at some aspects of the hidden cultural legacy of English by analyzing selected examples from the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament and its successor, the New Revised Standard Version, and comparing them with the King James Version. It also examines some close links between semantic change, cultural history, and the history of ideas, and shows that these links can be investigated in a rigorous and illuminating manner with the aid of a semantic methodology (Natural Semantic Metalanguage).
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