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Approaching Language Variation through Corpora

A Festschrift in Honour of Toshio Saito

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Edited By Shunji Yamazaki and Robert Sigley

This book is a collection of papers using samples of real language data (corpora) to explore variation in the use of English. This collection celebrates the achievements of Toshio Saito, a pioneer in corpus linguistics within Japan and founder of the Japan Association for English Corpus Studies (JAECS).
The main aims throughout the collection are to present practical solutions for methodological and interpretational problems common in such research, and to make the research methods and issues as accessible as possible, to educate and inspire future researchers. Together, the papers represent many different dimensions of variation, including: differences in (frequency of) use under different linguistic conditions; differences between styles or registers of use; change over time; differences between regional varieties; differences between social groups; and differences in use by one individual on different occasions. The papers are grouped into four sections: studies considering methodological problems in the use of real language samples; studies describing features of language usage in different linguistic environments in modern English; studies following change over time; and case studies illustrating variation in usage for different purposes, or by different groups or individuals, in society.

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YOKO IYEIRI The Verb Pray in Chaucer and Caxton - 289

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YOKO IYEIRI The Verb Pray in Chaucer and Caxton 1. Introduction In his study of imperative sentences in early Modern English, Ukaji (1978: 131) states: “imperatives are very often embedded explicitly in higher clauses as the complement of the following seven verbs: advise, beseech, charge, command, entreat, pray, and say”. He pays special attention to the verb pray on the grounds that it “is not only most fre- quent but also semantically most general, compatible as it is with a wide extent of request meaning” (Ukaji 1978: 133). The following is one of his early Modern English examples:1 (1) Be your tears wet? yes, ’faith. I pray, weep not. (King Lear, 4.7.71) The verb pray was borrowed from Old French during the Middle Eng- lish period, when it was used with the full meanings ‘to beseech’, ‘to ask’, etc. (OED s.v. pray). As the above example illustrates, however, pray in early Modern English often functions as a mere marker to in- troduce imperatives. In its later development, the physical form itself was reduced. Ukaji (1978: 137-38) notes that forms like I pray you and I pray are common in Shakespeare’s early plays while in his later ones forms like Pray you, Pray, I prithee, and Prithee prevail. Traugott and Dasher (2002: 254) also state that “[b]y the sixteenth century two new forms without the subject pronoun appear: prithee, and, without any pronoun, pray”. The following is an example of the last form, i.e. pray: (2) Pray be not...

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