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‘Ye whom the charms of grammar please’

Studies in English Language History in Honour of Leiv Egil Breivik


Edited By Kari Haugland, Kevin McCafferty and Kristian A. Rusten

This collection of articles by colleagues and students of Leiv Egil Breivik presents studies within both core and peripheral areas of English historical linguistics. Core topics covered include the development of existential there and related phenomena, word order, the evolution of adverbials, null subjects from Old to Early Modern English, pragmatics and information structure and aspects of discourse. Contributors also address the emergence of new syntactic constructions in the past and present, language contact and aspects of style in Early Modern English letters and medical texts. The ideological discourses of children’s dictionaries and medieval letters of defence are also explored.
The essays are all empirical studies, based on a wide range of corpora (both historical and contemporary) and applying theoretical approaches informed by Systemic-Functional Grammar, grammaticalization theory, dependency grammar, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistic methods. Issues of methodology, statistics and corpus construction and annotation are also addressed in several contributions.
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Bjørg Bækken: The noun phrase as a style marker in seventeenth-century English


← 140 | 141 → BJØRG BÆKKEN

The noun phrase as a style marker in seventeenth-century English

1 Introduction

Some years ago I used to borrow Leiv Egil’s copy of Andreas Jucker’s Social Stylistics (1992), which investigates the noun phrase as a possible style marker in Present-day English. We both found Jucker’s book an excellent and extremely stimulating study, highly relevant for teaching as well as research purposes, and it seems to me that applying some of the noun phrase features studied by Jucker to historical texts would be an appropriate tribute to Leiv Egil’s sincere dedication and multi-faceted contribution to English linguistics, contemporary as well as historical.

Jucker (1992) studied the noun phrase (NP) in present-day British newspapers, distinguishing between up-market, mid-market and down-market papers, which, stylistically, may be seen to represent a scale from formal to informal language. He found that the structure and complexity of NPs varied systematically according to the three newspaper categories, and also according to the individual newspaper sections (1992: 252). Jucker’s is not the only study of the NP as a possible index of style, and Jucker himself mentions Aarts (1971) as an early exponent of a stylistic approach to NPs and their complexity. Other studies are e.g. Varantola (1984), Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech & Svartvik (1985), Raumolin-Brunberg (1991) and Lopez Maestre (1998). Raumolin-Brunberg is a detailed study of NP structure in sixteenth-century English, based on the prose writings of one person, Sir Thomas More (1478–1535)...

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