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image of New methods for analysing diachronic suffix competition across registers

Abstract

Abstract

This paper tracks stylistic variation in the use of two roughly synonymous suffixes, the Romance - and the native -, during the Early Modern English period. We seek to verify from a statistical viewpoint the claims of , who reports on a decrease of - in favour of - in registers representative of the speech-written and formal-informal continua at that time. To this end, we develop new methods of statistical and visual analysis that enable diachronic comparisons of competing processes across subcorpora, building upon an earlier method by . Our results confirm that - gained ground first in written registers and then spread towards speech-related registers, and we are able to time this change more accurately thanks to a novel periodisation. We also provide strong statistical support indicating that the proportion of - was significantly higher in legal registers than in other registers.

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2022-08-19
2022-09-26
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