Aus unseren Neuerwerbungen – Anglistik 2021.4


Idioms and ambi­gu­i­ty in con­text: phrasal and com­po­si­tion­al read­ings of idiomat­ic expres­sions
Idioms have long been of inter­est to research in lin­guis­tics as well as lit­er­ary stud­ies. In the exist­ing research, how­ev­er, the aes­thet­ic pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of idiomat­ic ambi­gu­i­ty has nev­er been in focus. The present study on Idioms and Ambi­gu­i­ty in Con­text fills this gap by ana­lyz­ing a cor­pus of children’s literature—traditionally char­ac­ter­ized by a high mea­sure of word­play and ambiguity—both in a lin­guis­tic and lit­er­ary per­spec­tive.
Look­ing at the con­nec­tion between con­text and under­stand­ing of idiomat­ic expres­sions in either their phrasal or their com­po­si­tion­al read­ing, the study explores how ambi­gu­i­ty is acti­vat­ed, if, how, and when it is per­ceived on the dif­fer­ent lev­els of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and how lit­er­ary texts use this ambi­gu­i­ty in play­ful ways.
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Death by Shake­speare: snakebites, stab­bings and bro­ken hearts
An in-depth look at the sci­ence behind the cre­ative meth­ods Shake­speare used to kill off his char­ac­ters.
In Death By Shake­speare, Kathryn Harkup, best-sell­ing author of A is for Arsenic and expert on the more grue­some side of sci­ence, turns her exper­tise to William Shake­speare and the cre­ative meth­ods he used to kill off his char­ac­ters. Is death by snakebite real­ly as serene as Cleopa­tra made it seem? How did Juli­et appear dead for 72 hours only to be revived in per­fect health? Can you real­ly kill some­one by pour­ing poi­son in their ear? How long would it take before Lady Mac­beth died from lack of sleep? Harkup inves­ti­gates what actu­al events may have inspired Shake­speare, what the accept­ed sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge of the time was, and how Eliz­a­bethan audi­ences would have respond­ed to these death scenes. Death by Shake­speare reveals this and more in a roller­coast­er of Eliz­a­bethan car­nage, poi­son, sword­play and blood­shed, with an occa­sion­al death by bear-maul­ing for good mea­sure.
In the Bard’s day death was a part of every­day life. Plague, pesti­lence and pub­lic exe­cu­tions were a com­mon occur­rence, and the chances of see­ing a dead or dying body on the way home from the the­ater was a fair­ly like­ly sce­nario. Death is one of the major themes that reoc­curs con­stant­ly through­out Shakespeare’s canon, and he cer­tain­ly did­n’t shy away from por­tray­ing the bloody real­i­ty of death on the stage. He did­n’t have to invent grue­some or nov­el ways to kill off his char­ac­ters when every­day expe­ri­ence pro­vid­ed plen­ty of inspi­ra­tion.
Shakespeare’s era was also a time of huge sci­en­tif­ic advance. The human body, its con­struc­tion and how it was affect­ed by dis­ease came under scruti­ny, over­turn­ing more than a thou­sand years of received Greek wis­dom, and Shake­speare him­self hint­ed at these new sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies and med­ical advances in his writ­ing, such as cir­cu­la­tion of the blood and treat­ments for syphilis.
Shake­speare found dozens of dif­fer­ent ways to kill off his char­ac­ters, and audi­ences today still enjoy the same reactions–shock, sad­ness, fear–that they did over 400 years ago when these plays were first per­formed. But how real­is­tic are these deaths, and did Shake­speare have the sci­ence to back them up?
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