HELENA RAUMOLIN-BRUNBERG Leaders of Linguistic Change in Early Modern England1 1. Introduction This chapter is part of my research project ‘Language change and the individual’, which focuses on the different ways people behave under ongoing linguistic change. My research topics include general issues such as the longitudinal study of the linguistic behaviour of individuals (Raumolin-Brunberg 2005a) and more specific questions like the leadership of linguistic changes. My material consists of Late Middle and Early Modern English personal correspondence. Despite problems such as limited quantity and uneven representativeness, diachronic data have an advantage over synchronic material in offering the depth of time that longitudinal analyses require. The leadership of linguistic change is a complex phenomenon (Labov 2001: 323-411), and I will restrict my analysis to the following three questions: (1) Is it possible to trace the leaders of a particular change on the basis of what we know about the social trajectory of this shift? (2) Were there people who could be characterized as innovative in their linguistic behaviour in general; in other words, did the same people lead several changes? (3) In what types of social networks did the leaders live? This study deals with three morphological changes: the introduction of the object pronoun YOU2 into the subject function, the replacement of the suffix -TH by -S in the indicative third person 1 The research reported here was supported in part by the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence funding for the Research Unit for Variation and Change in English...
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