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Syntax, Style and Grammatical Norms

English from 1500-2000


Edited By Christiane Dalton-Puffer, Dieter Kastovsky and Nikolaus Ritt

The volume features a selection of new work presented at the 2004 meeting of the International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL). Main conference themes reflected in this volume are: the maturation and broadening of historical corpus linguistics, a new interest in English for Specific Purposes as a diachronic phenomenon, and the role of grammar writing in the process of change. A further thematic strand of this book is the significance of functional aspects in the development of grammar and discourse, especially in domains beyond phonology and morphology. Several contributions focus on the operation of socio-pragmatic and functional factors in historically identifiable social networks, especially in the 18 th century. Apart from that there is also a strong emphasis on developments in the 19 th and 20 th centuries.


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INGRID TIEKEN-BOON VAN OSTADE: “Disrespectful and too familiar”? Abbreviations as an Index of Politeness in 18 th -Century Letters 229


INGRID TIEKEN-BOON VAN OSTADE UNIVERSITY OF LEIDEN “Disrespectful and too familiar”? Abbreviations as an Index of Politeness in 18th-Century Letters1 1. Introduction On 13 November 1768, Robert Lowth (1710-1787), English gram- marian and at that time since two years Bishop of Oxford, wrote the following letter to his friend Glocester Ridley (1702-1774): Cuddesdon; Novr. 13 1768. (1) Dear Sr. I just now observe in ye. St. James’s Chronicle of Yesterday an Advertisement fm. the Chamber of ye. City of Exeter, for raising 3000ll on Anuities for Lives: they offer 10ll p. an– for 100ll on a Life of 60 years of age: Mrs. Lawman’s Anuity may therefore be purchased for 120ll: & the Security is better yn. yt. of many private person. If you approve of dealing with ym., I will write immediatly to Chancellor Quicke at Exeter to secure it; for as ye. sum to be raised is small, it will soon be filled. Pray let me have your answer immediately. Granville Sharpe, who publishes, never was in India: he is Son of ye. ye. [sic] late Archdeacon Sharp. Dear Sr. Your’s most Affly. R. Oxford. Cover: To/ The Revd. Dr. Ridley/ Poplar near/ London. 1 I am very grateful to Noel Osselton for presenting me with his notes on contractions and abbreviations in eighteenth-century spelling books, as well as for his comments on an earlier version of this article. I should also like to acknowledge the comments made on an earlier version of this paper by the anonymous referees....

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