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Chapter 2. The origin and development of the iffy-an(d) conjunction

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Abstract

The an(d) conjunction, whose primary function in present-day English iscoordination, 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 Adamsonhas termed iffy-an(d) (2001: 212), is strongly associated with literary English, asin this example from Shakespeare:An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too, I’llspeak 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 uneducatedor 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 ofiffy-an(d) in Early Modern English already exist, empirical studies on the useof the conjunction in Middle English literary texts are still lacking. This paperthus seeks to investigate the distribution and the development of iffy-an(d) aswell as its competition with the conditional conjunction if in Middle Englishliterary texts. The study will be based on the TEAMS Middle English Texts SeriesOnline, 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. Theemphasis on the latter factors will reveal whether iffy-an(d) was already associatedwith spoken language and a particular social group in the Middle Englishperiod. Attention will also be paid to the emergence and the decline of the linguistic variant under investigation.

References

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