Gender and the Formation of Modern Standard English

A Socio-Historical Corpus Study with Early Modern English in Focus

by Urszula Okulska (Author)
©2006 Thesis 294 Pages


The study examines the influence of gender on several long-term changes between 1500 and 1710 with an aim to assess the power of this variable in the formation of Present-Day Standard English. It projects the findings of contemporary sociolinguistics onto the history of English to check whether it was women, as some contemporary research might indicate, who were main trendsetters in the Early Modern English period and propagators of language innovations that have finally shaped the structure of Present-Day Standard English. The research builds a bridge between contemporary and historical sociolinguistics in that it incorporates five recent hypotheses explaining gender-conditioned variation to probe fifteen morpho-syntactic alterations of the 16th–18th centuries. The parameters are tested against the level of gender-marking from the perspective of specific socio-economic transformations of the time. As a corpus-based project, the analysis joins micro- and macro-scale methodologies with qualitative and quantitative approaches to the data processed. The source material are Early Modern English informal writings, such as letters and diaries, from the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts.


ISBN (Softcover)
Frühneuenglisch Schriftsprache Frau Helsinki Corpus Language /Gender Language Change Historical Linguistic English historical Morphology
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2006. 292 pp., num. tables and graphs

Biographical notes

Urszula Okulska (Author)

The Author: Urszula Okulska graduated from Adam Mickiewicz School of English, Poznań, where she received a Ph.D. in English historical linguistics. At present she works at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, Warsaw University, where she lectures sociolinguistics and discourse analysis. Her research interests include the history of English, text linguistics, cross-cultural communication, social semiotics, and corpus linguistics. She has co-edited (with Anna Duszak) the volume Speaking from the margin. Global English from a European perspective (Peter Lang 2004), and published on synchronic and diachronic aspects of language change, development of English specialized genres, gender-conditioned variation in English and Polish, political discourse, and the applicability of English diachronic corpora to sociolinguistic, discourse-pragmatic, and ethnolinguistic research.


Title: Gender and the Formation of Modern Standard English