Letter Writing

ORCID logoTerttu Nevalainen | University of Helsinki
ORCID logoSanna-Kaisa Tanskanen | University of Turku
ISBN 9789027222312 | EUR 80.00 | USD 120.00
ISBN 9789027293008 | EUR 80.00 | USD 120.00
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The contributions in this book discuss letter-writing from 1400 to 1800, and the material studied ranges from the late medieval Paston Letters and the correspondence between Sweden and the German Hanse to Early Modern English family letters and correspondence in natural history between England and North America in the eighteenth century. By bringing a set of corpus linguistic, discourse analytic, pragmatic and sociolinguistic approaches to bear on historical letter-writing activity, the articles both extend and complement the traditional letter-writing research in the history of European languages, which approaches the topic from a largely rhetorical perspective.
The articles in this book were first published as a Special Issue of the Journal of Historical Pragmatics 5:2 (2004), share a contextualised view of letters: whether approached from the perspective of language contact, social and discursive practices, intertextuality, audience design or linguistic politeness, letters are analysed as part of their specific familial, business or scientific network. Writing letters thus emerges as highly context-sensitive social interaction.
[Benjamins Current Topics, 1] 2007.  viii, 160 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“The book is a rich collection of contributions from well-known scholars. The data, deriving from a range of specific corpora, provide extensive opportunities for in-depth analyses of pragmatic and socio-linguistic phenomena. The findings are illustrated with numerous examples from an array of sources that highlight the representativeness of the material investigated and the validity of the methodological approach. It is a welcome addition to state-of-the-art studies on the history of English in use, and will not fail to encourage further research.”
“This is a remarkable and innovative collection of articles, not only because there are so few collections which focus on the genre of letters, but also because the papers presented here do not approach letters as finished products of the past. Rather, they trace and reconstruct the highly varied contexts where language users got involved in the activity of letter writing, with the outcome often being determined by power, convention and social interaction. The diversity of the approaches offered by the articles is impressive, including, among others, text typology, critical discourse analysis, politeness theory and the study of language contact. The texts examined range from late medieval Hanseatic letters to 18th century scientific correspondence. The analyses combine solid corpus-based investigations with the wider perspective of society at large. A highly welcome contribution to the study of the history of the genre and a valuable addition to the field of historical pragmatics.”

Main BIC Subject

CFG: Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2007004709