Chapter published in:Keeping in Touch: Emigrant letters across the English-speaking world
Edited by Raymond Hickey
[Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics 10] 2019
Mining emigrant correspondence for linguistic insights
The examination of emigrant letters shows that a judicious exploitation of this material can yield a variety of insights regarding the linguistic structure of varieties at the time of letter writing, despite a number of caveats which must be borne in mind. The diagnostic value of vernacular correspondence would appear to be considerable in that it assists scholars in completing a picture of variety development over the past few centuries. A wide spectrum of letters helps to establish the profile of vernacular English as it was transported to different overseas locations in the later colonial period.
Keywords: emigrant letters, insights and caveats, availability of personal correspondence, vernacular features
Published online: 28 November 2019
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