Patterns of Change in 18th-century English

A sociolinguistic approach

Editors
| University of Helsinki
| University of Helsinki
| University of Helsinki
HardboundAvailable
ISBN 9789027201034 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
 
e-Book Open Access
ISBN 9789027263834
 

Eighteenth-century English is often associated with normative grammar. But to what extent did prescriptivism impact ongoing processes of linguistic change? The authors of this volume examine a variety of linguistic changes in a corpus of personal correspondence, including the auxiliary do, verbal -s and the progressive aspect, and they conclude that direct normative influence on them must have been minimal.

The studies are contextualized by discussions of the normative tradition and the correspondence corpus, and of eighteenth-century English society and culture. Basing their work on a variationist sociolinguistic approach, the authors introduce the models and methods they have used to trace the progress of linguistic changes in the “long” eighteenth century, 1680–1800. Aggregate findings are balanced by analysing individuals and their varying participation in these processes. The final chapter places these results in a wider context and considers them in relation to past sociolinguistic work.

One of the major findings of the studies is that in most cases the overall pace of change was slow. Factors retarding change include speaker evaluation and repurposing outgoing features, in particular, for certain styles and registers.

[Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics, 8]  2018.  xi, 311 pp.
Publishing status: Available

For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at rights@benjamins.nl.

Table of Contents
Preface and acknowledgments
ix–x
Contributors
xi
Part I. Introduction and background
3–74
Chapter 1. Approaching change in 18th-century English
Terttu Nevalainen
3–12
Chapter 2. Society and culture in the long 18th century
Terttu Nevalainen
13–26
Chapter 3. Grammar writing in the eighteenth century
Nuria Yáñez-Bouza
27–44
Chapter 4. The Corpus of Early English Correspondence Extension (CEECE)
Samuli Kaislaniemi
45–60
Chapter 5. Research methods: Periodization and statistical techniques
61–74
Part II. Studies
75–218
Chapter 6. “Ungenteel” and “rude”? On the use of thou in the eighteenth century
Minna Nevala
77–95
Chapter 7. Going to completion: The diffusion of verbal ‑s
Terttu Nevalainen
97–116
Chapter 8. Periphrastic do in eighteenth-century correspondence: Emphasis on no social variation
Arja Nurmi
117–135
Chapter 9. Indefinite pronouns with singular human reference: Recessive and ongoing
Mikko Laitinen
137–158
Chapter 10. Ongoing change: The diffusion of the third-person neuter possessive its
Minna Palander-Collin
159–177
Chapter 11. Incipient and intimate: The progressive aspect
Anni Sairio
179–196
Chapter 12. Change or variation? Productivity of the suffixes ‑ness and ‑ity
Tanja Säily
197–218
Part III. Changes in retrospect
222–270
Chapter 13. Zooming out: Overall frequencies and Google Books
221–233
Chapter 14. Conservative and progressive individuals
Tanja Säily
235–242
Chapter 15. Changes in different stages
243–254
Chapter 16. A wider sociolinguistic perspective
Terttu Nevalainen
255–270
References
271–294
Appendix: Editions in the Corpora of Early English Correspondence
Arja Nurmi and Samuli Kaislaniemi
295–304
Index
305–311
“This book offers important insights into linguistic variation and change in 18th century England. Across morpho-syntactic variables, multiple methods and embedding their analyses in broader context, the authors demonstrate well-known sociolinguistic principles, e.g. women lead change. Yet important nuances emerge, e.g. synthetic resources increase over time (-ity, -ness). Together, these findings provide a critical real time backdrop for contemporary studies. It’s the next best thing to time travel!”
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BIC Subject: CF/2AB – Linguistics/English
BISAC Subject: LAN009010 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Historical & Comparative
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