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How did a single genre of text have the power to standardise the English language across time and region, rival the Bible in notions of authority, and challenge our understanding of objectivity, prescription, and description? Since the first monolingual dictionary appeared in 1604, the genre has sparked evolution, innovation, devotion, plagiarism, and controversy. This comprehensive volume presents an overview of essential issues pertaining to dictionary style and content and a fresh narrative of the development of English dictionaries throughout the centuries. Essays on the regional and global nature of English lexicography (dictionary making) explore its power in standardising varieties of English and defining nations seeking independence from the British Empire: from Canada to the Caribbean. Leading scholars and lexicographers historically contextualise an array of dictionaries and pose urgent theoretical and methodological questions relating to their role as tools of standardisation, prestige, power, education, literacy, and national identity.
The global spread of English has had widespread linguistic, social, and cultural implications, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. This textbook provides a lively and accessible introduction to world Englishes, describing varieties used in regions as diverse as America, the Caribbean, Australia, Africa, and Asia, and setting them within their historical and social contexts. Students are guided through the material with chapter summaries, discussion questions and exercises, and a comprehensive glossary, helping them to understand different varieties of English. The second edition is substantially updated, including new sections on English as a Lingua Franca, blurring boundaries, and research methods and resources. The book is accompanied by a useful website, containing textual and audio examples of the varieties introduced in the text. Providing essential knowledge and skills for those embarking on the study of world Englishes, this is a timely update of the leading introduction to the subject.
Transforming Early English shows how historical pragmatics can offer a powerful explanatory framework for the changes medieval English and Older Scots texts undergo, as they are transmitted over time and space. The book argues that formal features such as spelling, script and font, and punctuation - often neglected in critical engagement with past texts - relate closely to dynamic, shifting socio-cultural processes, imperatives and functions. This theme is illustrated through numerous case-studies in textual recuperation, ranging from the reinvention of Old English poetry and prose in the later medieval and early modern periods, to the eighteenth-century 'vernacular revival' of literature in Older Scots.
The concept of politeness permeates all aspects of modern life and society. However, to what extent has this phenomenon changed over time? This book traces the elusive concept of politeness from its beginnings in the Middle Ages up to the present day. Detailed case studies of mostly literary texts provide insights into historically specific ways of being polite, from discernment politeness in Old English to recent examples, such as non-imposition politeness. Readers will gain a better understanding of both the folk-notion of politeness and specific scholarly definitions, and how these can be applied to historical data. The long diachrony provides a novel perspective both on the concept of politeness and on the history of the English language in its social context, making this essential reading for politeness specialists, cultural historians and historical linguists alike. Politeness emerges as a multifaceted phenomenon that is both culture-specific and history-specific.
The Tudors are one of the best known royal families in English history. Over three generations, they constructed and maintained their status and authority during a period of social, political and religious unrest. This book examines the textual basis of Tudor royal power. Through analyses of correspondence alongside genres including proclamations and historical chronicles, the book explores the visual and verbal practices that came to symbolise monarchic authority in the Tudor era. Mel Evans combines concepts from sociolinguistics and pragmatics with corpus linguistic methods to explore the characteristics of authentic English language Tudor texts, alongside materials reporting and appropriating royal language. The book reveals a pervasive sixteenth-century royal voice - one which is central to the articulation and perpetuation of Tudor monarchic power.
The plural form 'Englishes' conveys the diversity of English as a global language, pinpointing the growth and existence of a large number of national, regional and social forms. The global spread of English and the new varieties that have emerged around the world has grown to be a vast area of study and research, which intersects multiple disciplines. This Handbook provides a comprehensive and authoritative survey of World Englishes from 1600 to the present day. Covering topics such as variationist sociolinguistics, pragmatics, contact linguistics, linguistic anthropology, corpus- and applied linguistics and language history, it combines discussion of traditional topics with a variety of innovative approaches. The chapters, all written by internationally acclaimed authorities, provide up-to-date discussions of the evolution of different Englishes around the globe, a comprehensive coverage of different models and approaches, and some original perspectives on current challenges.
A pioneering collection of new research that explores categories, constructions, and change in the syntax of the English language. The volume, with contributions by world-renowned scholars as well as some emerging scholars in the field, covers a wide variety of approaches to grammatical categories and categorial change, constructions and constructional change, and comparative and typological research. Each of the fourteen chapters, based on the analysis of authentic data, highlights the wealth and breadth of the study of English syntax (including morphosyntax), both theoretically and empirically, from Old English through to the present day. The result is a body of research which will add substantially to the current study of the syntax of the English language, by stimulating further research in the field.
This lively account of the making of Canadian English traces the variety's conceptual, social and linguistic developments from the twentieth century to the present. This book is not just another history of Canadian English; it is a history of the variety's discovery, codification, and eventual acceptance, as well as the contribution of the linguists behind it. Written by an active research linguist focusing on Canadian English, this book is an archive-based biography on multiple levels. Through a combination of new data and re-interpretations of existing studies, a new voice is given to earlier generations of Canadian linguists who, generally forgotten today, shaped the variety and how we think about it. Exploring topics such as linguistic description and codification, dictionary making, linguistic imperialism, linguistic attitudes, language and Canadian identity, or the threat of Americanisation, Dollinger presents a coherent, integrated and balanced account of developments spanning over almost a century.
One of the most intriguing features of languages is that speakers can produce novel grammatical utterances that they have never heard before. Consequently, most linguists agree that the mental grammars of speakers are complex systems that must be more abstract than the input they are exposed to. Yet, linguists differ as to how general and abstract speakers' mental representations have to be to allow this grammatical creativity. This book addresses this issue by empirically investigating one specific construction, English comparative correlatives (e.g., the more you eat, the fatter you get). Drawing on authentic corpus data from Old English to Present-day English varieties around the world, it shows how input frequency and domain-general cognitive principles affect the complex mental network of constructions that underlies speakers' linguistic behaviour. This pioneering and original study will be of interest to scholars and students of English syntax and English historical linguistics.
Responding to the need for a comprehensive treatment of Mexican American English and its varied influences across multiple generations, this volume provides true insight into how language contact triggers language change, and illustrates previously under-recognised links to ethnolects of other migrant groups in different parts of the world. It demonstrates how the variety begins with Spanish interference features but evolves into a stable variety over time by filtering out some of the interference features and responding to forces such as exploitation of its speakers, education, and the need to develop solidarity. A large number of linguistic variables from multiple realms of language are analysed that provide a truly balanced picture of the divisions within the community across a range of linguistic levels such as syntax, phonology, prosody, accent, dialect, and sociolinguistics.
Providing a detailed and comprehensive account of the development of phrasal verbs from early modern to present-day English, this study covers almost 400 years in the history of English, and provides both a diachronic and synchronic account based on over 12,000 examples extracted from stratified electronic corpora. The corpus analysis provides evidence of how registers can inform us about the history of English, as it traces and compares the usage and stylistic drifts of phrasal verbs across ten different genres - drama, fiction, journals, diaries, letters, medicine, news, science, sermons, and trial proceedings. The study also sheds new light on the morpho-syntactic and semantic features of phrasal verbs, proposing a new approach to the category, considering not only on their grammatical features, but also their historical development, by discussing the category in terms of a number of central mechanisms of language change.
This textbook provides a step-by-step introduction to the history of the English language (HEL), offering a fresh perspective on the process of language change. Aimed at undergraduate students, The Emergence and Development of English is accessibly written, and contains a wealth of pedagogical tools, including chapter openers, key terms, chapter summaries, end-of-chapter exercises and suggestions for further reading. A central theme of the book is 'emergence', the key term from the study of complex systems, which describes how massive numbers of random verbal interactions give rise to regularities that 'emerge' without specific causes. This unique approach encourages readers to incorporate complex systems into the mainstream coverage of HEL. Additional resources include examples of language from each period, as well as appendices on terminology, online resources and audio samples.
Combining statistical modelling and archival study, English and Empire investigates how African diasporic, Chinese, and Indian characters have been voiced in British fiction and drama produced between 1768 and 1929. The analysis connects patterns of linguistic representation to changes in the imperial political economy, to evolving language ideologies that circulate in the Anglophone world, and to shifts in sociocultural anxieties that crosscut race and empire. In carrying out his investigation, David West Brown makes the case for a methodological approach that links the distant (quantitative) and close (qualitative) reading of diverse digital artefacts. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the book will appeal to a variety of scholars and students including sociolinguists interested in historical language variation, as well as literary scholars interested in postcolonial studies and the digital humanities.
Dictionaries are a powerful genre, perceived as authoritative and objective records of the language, impervious to personal bias. But who makes dictionaries shapes both how they are constructed and how they are used. Tracing the craft of dictionary making from the fifteenth century to the present day, this book explores the vital but little-known significance of women and gender in the creation of English language dictionaries. Women worked as dictionary patrons, collaborators, readers, compilers, and critics, while gender ideologies served, at turns, to prevent, secure, and veil women's involvements and innovations in dictionary making. Combining historical, rhetorical, and feminist methods, this is a monumental recovery of six centuries of women's participation in dictionary making and a robust investigation of how the social life of the genre is influenced by the social expectations of gender.
Anyone writing texts in English is constantly faced with the unavoidable question whether to use open spelling (drinking fountain), hyphenation (far-off) or solid spelling (airport) for individual compounds. While some compounds commonly occur with alternative spellings, others show a very clear bias for one form. This book tests over 60 hypotheses and explores the patterns underlying the spelling of English compounds from a variety of perspectives. Based on a sample of 600 biconstituent compounds with identical spelling in all reference works in which they occur (200 each with open, hyphenated and solid spelling), this empirical study analyses large amounts of data from corpora and dictionaries and concludes that the spelling of English compounds is not chaotic but actually correlates with a large number of statistically significant variables. An easily applicable decision tree is derived from the data and an innovative multi-dimensional prototype model is suggested to account for the results.
This path-breaking study of the standardisation of English goes well beyond the traditional prescriptivism versus descriptivism debate. It argues that the way norms are established and enforced is the result of a complex network of social factors and cannot be explained simply by appeals to power and hegemony. It brings together insights from leading researchers to re-centre the discussion on linguistic communities and language users. It examines the philosophy underlying the urge to standardise language, and takes a closer look at both well-known and lesser-known historical dictionaries, grammars and usage guides, demonstrating that they cannot be simply labelled as 'prescriptivist'. Drawing on rich empirical data and case studies, it shows how the norm continues to function in society, influencing and affecting language users even today.
When we look up a word in a dictionary, we want to know not just its meaning but also its function and the circumstances under which it should be used in preference to words of similar meaning. Standard dictionaries do not address such matters, treating each word in isolation. R. M. W. Dixon puts forward a new approach to lexicography that involves grouping words into 'semantic sets', to describe what can and cannot be said, and providing explanations for this. He provides a critical survey of the evolution of English lexicography from the earliest times, showing how Samuel Johnson's classic treatment has been amended in only minor ways. Written in an easy and accessible style, the book focuses on the rampant plagiarism between lexicographers, on ways of comparing meanings of words, and on the need to link lexicon with grammar. Dixon tells an engrossing story that puts forward a vision for the future.
How was the complex history of Britain's languages understood by twelfth-century authors? This book argues that the social, political and linguistic upheavals that occurred in the wake of the Norman Conquest intensified later interest in the historicity of languages. An atmosphere of enquiry fostered vernacular literature's prestige and led to a newfound sense of how ancient languages could be used to convey historical claims. The vernacular hence became an important site for the construction and memorialisation of dynastic, institutional and ethnic identities. This study demonstrates the breadth of interest in the linguistic past across different social groups and the striking variety of genre used to depict it, including romance, legal translation, history, poetry and hagiography. Through a series of detailed case studies, Sara Harris shows how specific works represent key aspects of the period's imaginative engagement with English, Brittonic, Latin and French language development.
Based on a rich set of historical data, this book traces the development of pragmatic markers in English, from hwæt in Old English and whilom in Middle English to whatever and I'm just saying in present-day English. Laurel J. Brinton carefully maps the syntactic origins and development of these forms, and critically examines postulated unilineal pathways, such as from adverb to conjunction to discourse marker, or from main clause to parenthetical. The book sets case studies within a larger examination of the development of pragmatic markers as instances of grammaticalization or pragmaticalization. The characteristics of pragmatic markers - as primarily oral, syntactically optional, sentence-external, grammatically indeterminate elements - are revised in the context of scholarship on pragmatic markers over the last thirty or more years.
Bringing together experts from both historical linguistics and psychology, this volume addresses core factors in language change from the perspectives of both fields. It explores the potential (and limitations) of such an interdisciplinary approach, covering the following factors: frequency, salience, chunking, priming, analogy, ambiguity and acquisition. Easily accessible, the book features chapters by psycholinguists presenting cutting edge research on core factors and processes and develops a model of how this may be involved in language change. Each chapter is complemented with one or several case study in the history of the English language in which the psycholinguistic factor in question may be argued to have played a decisive role. Thus, for the first time, a single volume provides a platform for an integrated exchange between psycholinguistics and historical linguistics on the question of how language changes over time.