“The reader is desired to observe…”
Metacomments in the prefaces to English school grammars of the eighteenth century
The prefaces to English school grammars of the eighteenth century may be conceptualised as a frame of reference for the authorial voice behind them. To promote and boost the sales of their works, grammarians generally wrote sound, meaningful prefaces that combined propositional content with metadiscursive comments. Therefore, this kind of prefatory material falls within the scope of what Genette (1997: 1–2) calls the “paratextual apparatus” of a work, which aims to provide the reader with essential information for the correct reception, understanding and perusal of the book. This paper focuses on grammarians’ textual and interpersonal metacomments as thoughtful strategies to guide the reader carefully through the text, as well as to shape the contents and message of the book at various levels (Hyland 2000; Lorés-Sanz 2006: 92). To this end, a study corpus of fifteen English school grammars has been retrieved from the ECEG Database (2010) by restricting two search parameters: target audience and authors’ place of birth.
Keywords: textual and interpersonal functions, eighteenth-century school grammar, metacomment, preface
Published online: 03 April 2015
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