Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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In contrast to Early Modern English, little is known about address pronouns in Scotland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This paper investigates early Scottish pronoun usage in more detail by presenting a case study on singular pronominal address in Late Middle Scottish and Early Modern Northern English witness depositions from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The source texts drawn from the Criminal Trials in Scotland 1488–1624, the Helsinki Corpus of Older Scots 1450–1700 and A Corpus of English Dialogues 1560–1760 are examined with a quantitative and qualitative approach based on historical pragmatics and historical sociolinguistics. Thou is found to be relatively frequent in the Scottish and Northern English data in comparison with the rapid decline in thou recently found in South-Eastern English depositions. However, there are significant differences in the distributions of pronouns, which are explained by an overrepresentation of upper social ranks in the Scottish sub-corpus.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Early Modern English; Older Scots; pronouns of address; regional variation
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