Latijnse autoriteit en constructionele transparantie: neologismen in het Franse medische vocabularium van de middeleeuwen en hun voortbestaan. Latin authority and constructional transparency: neologisms in the French medical vocabulary of the Middle Ages and their fate.
This study has investigated why certain French neologisms that emerged in the field of medicine during the Middle Ages managed to survive, while others disappeared after some time. My hypothesis is that morphology, in particular constructional transparency, contributed in a crucial manner to lexical preservation. More specifically, words formally close to Latin should have more chances of survival than original French creations, i.e. derivations or compositions based on genuinely French morphemes. To verify this hypothesis, the corpus CHrOMed (CoRpus Of French Medieval MEDical texts) (1.665.663 words) was created. This corpus contains French medical texts, both translations from Latin and texts directly written in French, from between the 13th until the 15th century. Moreover, a database containing the results of the detailed analyses of these neologisms was developed. By using multivariate statistical methods, I was able to conclude that my hypothesis is correct. In other words, neologisms borrowed from Latin could stand the test of time better than vernacular creations. Furthermore, I have shown that the more frequently neologisms appeared in the corpus, the more chances of entrenchment they had. As such, I have been able to shed new light on the development and the fate of French medical terminology. In the future, both the corpus and the database will be available online and will be put at the disposal of the scientific community.