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The complexity and diversity of the words in Wright&#8217;s <i>English Dialect Dictionary</i>

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Abstract

Given that the Late Modern English (LModE) period has been widely neglected in English historical linguistics and that dialect is now seen by many to play a role as sociolect rather than regionalect, the material on English dialects in Joseph Wright&#8217;s <i>English Dialect Dictionary (EDD)</i> (1898&#8211;&#8211;1905) is all the more valuable and, therefore, discussed in this paper in its substantiality and complexity. The dictionary provides much more than just the attribution of dialect words to region. Wright has compiled data on practically all levels of the language system and on many kinds of usage features &#8211; sometimes, as in the case of pragmatics, features of which he could not have been aware. This survey paper presents a selection of such features, which range from phonetics and spelling to idiomatic phrases, and from rhyme and rhythm to types of word formation. At the same time, the paper demonstrates how the interface of <i>EDD</i> Online, the computerized version of the dictionary, tries to reflect and make accessible the <i>EDD</i>&#8217;s wealth of information.

References

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