5. English ca. 1500 to ca. 1700 (Early Modern English)
5.1. Political and socio-cultural background
In the last chapter we saw that the end of the Middle English period was marked by the re-emergence of English as the major means of communication in many important domains of language use. This re-establishment of English and the beginning of standardisation can serve as one criterion for delimiting the opening of the Early Modern English period. In this period, English is used in most areas of life, and in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, most of the remaining fields (for example, scientific and academic prose, liturgical religious texts) adopt English as well.
Also, during the last half of the fifteenth century, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell, with the help of dialectal features, where a written text stems from (except for clearly Northern texts). So, at the outset of Early Modern English we encounter an incipient norm of a written (orthographic) standard which is used in the literate sections of society, a standard, however, which will not be codified until the very end of the period.
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