Gower Bibliography

“Gower’s Vocabulary.

Kaplan, Theodore H. "“Gower’s Vocabulary." Journal of English and Germanic Philology 31 (1932), pp. 395-402.


Kaplan bases his analysis of Gower's English vocabulary on Macaulay's word list to the CA. The total number of words is 6006, of which 882 are proper names and 476 are variants of other words. The net number – 4648 words – seems much lower than the tally for Shakespeare, Milton, or even Chaucer. However, Kaplan ridicules the idea that "the greater the genius the greater the vocabulary" (396), and he finds the real interest in the percentage of loan words in Gower's vocabulary. Gower's diction is 54.9% Anglo-Saxon, 4.2% Latin, and 37.9% French, and a small percentage Other. However, when we take into account frequency of occurrence, then Gower's use of Anglo-Saxon words is likely around 90%. Kaplan further lists words from J to Z (Macaulay covered A to I) where Gower is the first citation in the NED (i.e., the OED). However, he concludes by casting some doubt on the value of first citations. [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Language and Word Studies
Confessio Amantis

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