Unlocking the History of English

Pragmatics, prescriptivism and text types. Selected papers from the 21st ICEHL

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This volume brings together contributions selected from papers delivered at the 21st International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL, Leiden 2021). The chapters deal with aspects of language use throughout the history of English, including efforts to prescribe and regulate language in texts that share specific forms, functions and audiences. They feature both quantitative and qualitative analyses of changing language use, often in relation to trends of language advice in such metalinguistic works as grammars, spelling books and usage guides. The authors showcase work on pragmatics and prescriptivism (understatement between Middle and Late Modern English, capitalization of common nouns from Early to Late Modern English and the use of stigmatized grammatical variants in eighteenth-century plays), specific text types (case studies of political, legal and medical English) and the language of late modern letters (diachronic stylistic changes, letter-copying practices, the role of letter-writing manuals and changing spelling practices). This volume will be of interest to those working on pragmatics, prescriptivism and sociolinguistics of English, historical linguistics, language change, computational historical linguistics and related sub-disciplines.

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