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Corpus-based Studies of Diachronic English

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Roberta Facchinetti and Matti Rissanen

Corpus-based studies of diachronic English have been thriving over the last three decades to such an extent that the validity of corpora in the enrichment of historical linguistic research is now undeniable. The present book is a collection of papers illustrating the state of the art in corpus-based research on diachronic English, by means of case-study expositions, software presentations, and theoretical discussions on the topic. The majority of these papers were delivered at the 25 th Conference of the International Computer Archive of Modern and Medieval English (ICAME), held at the University of Verona on 18-23 May 2004. A number of typological and geographical varieties of English are tackled in the book: from general to specialized English, from British to Australian English, from written to speech-related registers. In order to discuss their tenets, the contributors draw on corpora and dictionaries from different centuries, including the most recent ones; hence, they testify to the fact that past and present are so strongly interlocked and so inextricably entwined that it proves hard – if not preposterous – to fully understand Present-day English structure and features without turning back to the previous centuries for an in-depth knowledge of the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of the current state of the art.

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ROBERTA FACCHINETTI / MATTI RISSANEN Introduction .......................................................................................... 7 ANNE CURZAN / CHRIS C. PALMER The Importance of Historical Corpora, Reliability, and Reading....... 17 Old English and Middle English JOHAN VAN DER AUWERA / MARTINE TAEYMANS More on the Ancestors of Need .......................................................... 37 MANFRED MARKUS Spotting Spoken Historical English: The Role of Alliteration in Middle English Fixed Expressions ................................................. 53 IRMA TAAVITSAINEN / PÄIVI PAHTA / MARTTI MÄKINEN Towards a Corpus-Based History of Specialized Languages: Middle English Medical Texts ........................................................... 79 BARRY MORLEY / PATRICIA SIFT Towards the Automatic Identification of Directive Speech Acts ....... 95 Contents6 Modern English HELENA RAUMOLIN-BRUNBERG Leaders of Linguistic Change in Early Modern England ................. 115 HANS MARTIN LEHMANN / CAREN AUF DEM KELLER / BENI RUEF ZEN Corpus 1.0................................................................................ 135 UDO FRIES Death Notices: The Birth of a Genre ................................................ 157 FRANCK ZUMSTEIN The Contribution of Computer-Searchable Diachronic Corpora to the Study of Word Stress Variation .............................................. 171 19th-Century and 20th-Century English MERJA KYTÖ / ERIK SMITTERBERG 19th-Century English: An Age of Stability or a Period of Change? .... 199 CLEMENS FRITZ The Conventions’ Spelling Conventions: Regional Variation in 19th-Century Australian Spelling .................................................. 231 TINE BREBAN The Grammaticalization of the English Adjectives of Comparison: A Diachronic Case Study.................................................................. 253 GÖRAN KJELLMER Panchrony in Linguistic Change: The Case of Courtesy .................. 289

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