Article published in:The Language of Daily Life in England (1400–1800)
Edited by Arja Nurmi, Minna Nevala and Minna Palander-Collin
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 183] 2009
► pp. 199–217
Singular YOU WAS/WERE variation and English normative grammars in the eighteenth century
This article investigates the sociolinguistic processes in singular you was and you were variation in eighteenth-century correspondence. The focus is on the sociolinguistic mechanisms in operation when one variant was established as a standard, high-prestige variant, and the other as a non-standard form. The data are drawn from the Corpus of Early English Correspondence Extension and complemented with evidence from A Representative Corpus of Historical English Registers. The results show that you was peaks before the mid-eighteenth century and gradually becomes a socially stigmatized linguistic marker, as evinced in normative comments in grammars. Men lead the change: the form peaks earlier among men than women who resort to using the were variant longer than men.
Published online: 15 April 2009
Cited by 4 other publications
No author info given
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