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The Use of Modal Expression Preference as a Marker of Style and Attribution

The Case of William Tyndale and the 1533 English "Enchiridion Militis Christiani</I>


Elizabeth Bell Canon

Can an author’s preference for expressing modality be quantified and then used as a marker of attribution? This book explores the possibility of using the subjunctive mood as an indicator of style and a marker of authorship in Early Modern English texts. Using three works by the sixteenth-century biblical translator and polemicist, William Tyndale, Elizabeth Bell Canon establishes a predictable preference for certain types of modal expression. The theory of subjunctive use as a marker of attribution was then tested on the anonymous 1533 English translation of Erasmus’ Enchiridion Militis Christiani. Also included in this book is a modern English spelling version Tyndale’s The Parable of the Wicked Mammon.


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4 William Tyndale, The Man 17


C H A P T E R 4 William Tyndale, The Man We do not know the cast of Tyndale’s eyes, the set of his mouth; his profession made him a man of the shadows, and we know only, from his writing, that he was cantankerous, driven, and morally very self-assured, and that he was also lively, a wit and punster, and that he knew what it was to be happy. —Brian Moynahan, God’s Bestseller William Tyndale was an Englishman who lived and died during the early days of the English Reformation. He was a writer of polemical Protestant texts, and a translator of the Bible into English. Beyond that, very little is known about the man. Modern scholars are familiar with his biblical work and his polemical tracts and texts, but his authorship of the first English New Testament to be translated from the Greek was suppressed during his life and in the days following his execution. Having lived most of his life as an out- law, William Tyndale was a shadow walker; difficult to catch, difficult to define, difficult to study. Although virtually the whole collection of his works were unlawful, it may be his polemical works that attracted the great- est of the Catholic ire. Those works, along with his Bible translations, were banned in England during his lifetime because of their anti-Catholic senti- ment. The name Tyndale indicates a familial location in proximity to the river Tyne, in the Northumbrian region. Like all the facts surrounding...

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