The Language of Wit in Piers Plowman
Wit in PPl operates as a synonym for understanding one’s true self. Comprehension is not merely a mental fact but also the outcome of the linguistic process of verbal confrontation, as Will by stages gains knowledge or is baffled by the guide figures of Holy Chirche, Anima, Thoght, Ymaginatif and Reson. The lexeme “Wit” is polysemous within the poem, and the crowd of personifications of Wit’s various attributes leaves the reader with an ultimate feeling of intellectual frustration.
Dieter Stein and Rosanna Sornicola, eds. The Virtues of Language: History in Language, Linguistics and Texts. Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science 87. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1998. Pp. 51-65.