Chapter published in:Keeping in Touch: Emigrant letters across the English-speaking world
Edited by Raymond Hickey
[Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics 10] 2019
‘I hope you will excuse my bad writing’
Shall vs. will in the 1830s Petworth Emigration to Canada Corpus (PECC)
This chapter introduces a new resource, the Petworth Emigration to Canada Corpus (PECC), which consists of some 90,000 words of letters from Southern English emigrants to Canada in the 1830s. Empirically, the chapter addresses the change from first person shall to will in a multi-variety comparison with logistic regression modelling that. Results suggest linguistic “drift” antedates mass literacy which is therefore more unlikely to be responsible for the change (as suggested in McCafferty and Amador-Moreno 2014) than hitherto assumed. It also addresses the degree of orality of the Petworth letters and suggests a conceptual distinction between and differential treatment of short-distance and long-distance letter data. Finally, CanE is accessed as more innovative in the use of first person will than has traditionally been assumed.
Keywords: Standardization, modal auxiliaries, language drift, dialect contact, Canadian English, Irish English, colloquialization, new-dialect formation, koinéization
Published online: 28 November 2019
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