Publication details [#1030]

Kossmann, Bianca. 2006. From Evil Riches to Common Fertilizer: Mucking in with Semantic Change. Cascadilla Proceedings Project. 12 pp. URL
Publication type
Book – conference proceedings
Publication language


This paper highlights the advantages of combining cognitive, pragmatic and socio-cultural approaches when discussing the role of metaphor in semantic change. To do so, it delves into the semantic field of WEALTH, analyzing the diachronic development of 'muck' in Middle English. During the Medieval period, worldly wealth was deemed a possible incarnation of sin and evil. The Middle English data show that both religious texts and secular (moral) texts reflect metaphorical uses of words such as 'muck' or 'dirt' for worldly wealth. Thus, while metaphor offers invaluable insights into semantic change, a multi-faceted approach may be more suitable to provide more fine-grained analyses.