Article published in:Robert Lowth (1710-1787): The making of his grammar and its influence
Guest-edited by Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade
[Historiographia Linguistica 39:1] 2012
► pp. 9–26
Robert Lowth and the Critics
Literary contexts for the “Critical Notes” in his Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762)
This article provides a broad intellectual context for Robert Lowth’s (1710–1787) Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762), and in particular for the footnotes or “Critical Notes” in which he documented the grammatical errors of great dead writers. It is well known that Lowth’s notes were innovative in the English grammatical tradition, and that they contrasted and qualified the “Examples from the best Writers” in the Dictionary of the English Language (1755) by Samuel Johnson (1709–1784). Here the author places Lowth in broader context and demonstrate that the ‘bad’ grammar of vernacular classics had already been publicized in debates about translating the bible and editing Shakespeare. In the concluding discussion I draw on current studies of literary canons to argue that by crystallizing the difference between literary and standard language, Lowth’s grammar increased the socio-cultural capital of both.
Published online: 22 March 2012
Cited by 1 other publications
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