In Defence of Lydgate: Lydgate’s Use of Binomials in his Troy Book (Part 1)

Hans Sauer


Section 1 provides a very brief introduction to Lydgate, who was probably the most prolific English poet. He was also fond of rhetoric and frequently employed binomials. A short definition of binomials is given in section 2. Section 3 looks at the relation of binomials and multinomials, section 4 at the density and function of binomials, section 5 at previous research, and section 6 sketches formal features of binomials (especially structure, word-classes, alliteration). Section 7 discusses the etymological structure of binomials (native word + native word, loan-word + loan-word, native word + loan-word, loan-word + native word), and the so-called translation theory. Section 8 deals with the semantic structure of binomials, i.e. the semantic relation between the two words that make up a binomial. The main relations are synonymy, antonymy, and complementarity – the latter has many subgroups.

Słowa kluczowe: Lydgate, Chaucer, binomials (word-pairs), variation and formulae, learned and popular binomials


Bergen H. (ed.). 19061910. Lydgates Troy book. [3 vols.; EETS ES 97, 103, 106; several reprints]. London.

Chaucer = Benson L.D. (gen. ed.). 2008. The Riverside Chaucer. [3rd edition, reprinted with a new foreword by Ch. Cannon]. Oxford.

Edwards R.H. (ed.). 1998. John Lydgate, Troy Book: Selections. [= TEAMS: Middle English text series]. Kalamazoo (MI).


Studies and handbooks

Grimm J. 1816. Von der Poesie im Recht. Zeitschrift für geschichtliche Rechtswissenschaft 2: 2599.

Gustafsson M. 1975. Binomial expressions in Present-Day English: A syntactic and semantic study. Turku.

Knappe G. 1996. Traditionen der klassischen Rhetorik im angelsächsischen England. [= Anglistische Forschungen 236]. Heidelberg.

Kopaczyk J., Sauer H. (eds.). 2017. Binomials in the history of English: Fixed and flexible. Cambridge.

Koskenniemi I. 1968. Repetitive word pairs in Old and Middle English prose. Turku.

Leisi E. 1947. Die tautologischen Wortpaare in Caxtons Eneydos. Cambridge (MA).

Malkiel Y. 1959. Studies in Irreversible Binomials. – Lingua 8: 113160.

MED = Kurath H. et al. 2000. Middle English Dictionary. Ann Arbor. [also available electronically].

Mollin S. 2014. The (Ir)reversibility of English binomials. Amsterdam.

Oakden J.P. 19301935. Alliterative poetry in Middle English. [2 vols.; repr. 1968]. Hamden (CT).

Pearsall D. 1970. John Lydgate. London.

Pearsall D. 1997. John Lydgate (13711449): A bio-bibliography. [= English literary studies monographs 71]. Victoria (BC).

Renoir A. 1967. The poetry of John Lydgate. London.

Sauer H. 2018. Binomials in the Middle English and Early Modern English versions of Boccaccios De claris mulieribus. Connolly M., Radulescu R. (eds.). Editing and interpretation of Middle English texts: Essays in honour of William Marx. Turnhout: 83105.

Sauer H., Schwan B. 2017a. Heaven and earth, good and bad, answered and said: A survey of English binomials and multinomials (Part 1). SLing 134: 8396. [available at:].

Sauer H., Schwan B. 2017b. Heaven and earth, good and bad, answered and said: A survey of English binomials and multinomials (Part 2). SLing 134: 185204. [available at:].

Sauer H., Seitschek G., Teuber B. (eds.). 2016. Höhepunkte des mittelalterlichen Erzählens: Heldenlieder, Romane und Novellen in ihrem kulturellen Kontext. Heidelberg.

Schenk U. 2017. Binomials in Middle English poetry: Havelok, Ywain and Gawain, The Canterbury Tales. Kopaczyk J., Sauer H. (eds.). Binomials in the history of English: Fixed and flexible. Cambridge: 125–140.

Schirmer W.F. 1961. John Lydgate: A study in the culture of the XVth century. [transl. Ann E. Keep; original German version: 1952]. London.

Tilgner E. 1936. Die Aureate Terms als Stilelement bei Lydgate. [= Germanische Studien 182]. Berlin.

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