<i>Letters of Artisans and the Labouring Poor</i> (England, <i>c</i>. 1750–1835)

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Histories of linguistic variability and language standardization in Late Modern England have predominantly focused on the well-educated layers of society. This paper aims at providing a more complete overview of language use during that period by focusing on the lower social ranks. The discussion will be based on the corpus <i>Letters of Artisans and the Labouring Poor </i>(<i>LALP</i>), which contains more than 2,000 letters of application for poor relief from the period <i>c.</i>1750&#8722;1835. The first part of the paper describes the corpus in some detail. The second part discusses new research questions that the lower-class material raises; this will be illustrated by two case studies. In the first study, the material will be viewed from the point of view of spelling acquisition and fossilization. The second case study focuses on providing diachronic time depth to some of the current issues discussed in the sociolinguistics of globalization (Blommaert 2010), such as mobility and developing literacies.


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