Edited by Marijke J. van der Wal and Gijsbert Rutten
[Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics 1] 2013
► pp. 201–224
This article illustrates the complexity of the official/personal interface in nineteenth-century letters of petition addressed to the British colonial authorities in Cape Town (1820–25). Despite the rigid institutionalised demands on message clarity and petitioner’s detachment, the author’s ego “intentionally or unintentionally discloses (…) itself” (Presser 1969: 286; as quoted in Dekker 2002: 7). One type of ego disclosure is self-reference, a feature of personal involvement illustrated in the letters of a woman settler, Jane Erith. The study shows that frequencies of self-reference, relative to its values in personal correspondence (e.g. Palander-Collin 2009b), are high in Jane Erith’s letters and in other 1820 Settler petitions. Moreover, the high level of ego involvement in the petition appears to be a distinctive feature of the genre.
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