Flat adverbs and Jane Austen’s letters
The stricture against flat adverbs, adverbs without the suffix -<i>ly</i>, originated in the eighteenth century. In a micro-level analysis of the epistolary language of Jane Austen, this paper focuses on her use of flat adverbs. Using flat adverbs herself, Jane Austen adopted them to mark her non-standard fictional characters, a process which was independent of the development of the normative stricture. Focusing on early grammatical discussion of the phenomenon, in comparison with the grammarians’ own usage, the paper shows that the development of the category of adverbs as modifiers of verbs, adjectives and other adverbs, was not a straightforward process. It illustrates the enormous potential of Jane Austen’s letters as a source for our knowledge of informal Late Modern English.