Article published in:Linguistics and Literary History: In honour of Sylvia Adamson
Edited by Anita Auer, Victorina González-Díaz, Jane Hodson and Violeta Sotirova
[Linguistic Approaches to Literature 25] 2016
► pp. 31–48
Chapter 2. The origin and development of the iffy-an(d) conjunction
The an(d) conjunction, whose primary function in present-day English is coordination, could introduce conditional clauses in earlier stages of English, most notably during the Middle English and the Early Modern English periods (Rissanen 1999: 281). This particular use of the conjunction, which Adamson has termed iffy-an(d) (2001: 212), is strongly associated with literary English, as in this example from Shakespeare: An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too, I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice. ‘Thisne, Thisne;’ ‘Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! thy Thisby dear, and lady dear!’ (Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream I, ii, Bottom) In Early Modern English, iffy-an(d) is commonly found in drama with uneducated or lower-class speakers as well as in representations of dialect speech (cf. Adamson 2001: 213; Culpepter and Kytö 2010: 167). While findings on the use of iffy-an(d) in Early Modern English already exist, empirical studies on the use of the conjunction in Middle English literary texts are still lacking. This paper thus seeks to investigate the distribution and the development of iffy-an(d) as well as its competition with the conditional conjunction if in Middle English literary texts. The study will be based on the TEAMS Middle English Texts Series Online, a collection of prose and verse texts (e.g. religious texts, romances, Chaucer’s works). The analysis will take into consideration both internal factors, e.g. clause position, topic, verb choice, as well as external (social) factors. The emphasis on the latter factors will reveal whether iffy-an(d) was already associated with spoken language and a particular social group in the Middle English period. Attention will also be paid to the emergence and the decline of the linguistic variant under investigation.
Published online: 20 October 2016
Culpeper, J. & Kytö, M.
De Haan, G.J.
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2006 A corpus study of and as a subordinating conjunction from Middle English to Early Modern English. The Even Yearbook 7. http://seas3.elte.hu/delg/publications/even/2006/06fo.pdf (24 November 2014).
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TEAMS Middle English Texts