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Studies in Late Modern English Correspondence

Methodology and Data


Marina Dossena and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade

The studies presented in this volume concentrate on aspects of Late Modern English correspondence in the usage of individuals belonging to different social classes, writing for different purposes, and finding themselves in different social contexts, both in Britain and in its colonies. As the growing body of research published in recent years has shown, analysing the language of letters presents both a challenge and an opportunity to obtain access to as full a range of styles as would be possible for a period for which we only have access to the language in its written form. It is an area of study in which all the contributors have considerable expertise, which affords them to present data findings while discussing important methodological issues. In addition, in most cases data derive from specially-designed ‘second-generation’ corpora, reflecting state-of-the-art approaches to historical sociolinguistics and pragmatics. Theoretical issues concerning letters as a text type, their role in social network analysis, and their value in the identification of register or variety specific traits are highlighted, alongside issues concerning the (often less than easy) relationship between strictly codified norms and actual usage on the part of speakers whose level of education could vary considerably.
Contents: Marina Dossena/Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade: Introduction – Arja Nurmi/Minna Palander-Collin: Letters as a Text Type: Interaction in Writing – Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade: Letters as a Source for Reconstructing Social Networks: The Case of Robert Lowth – Susan M. Fitzmaurice: Epistolary Identity: Convention and Idiosyncrasy in Late Modern English Letters – Richard Dury: Handwriting and the Linguistic Study of Letters – Anni Sairio: Bluestocking Letters and the Influence of Eighteenth-Century Grammars – Lyda Fens-de Zeeuw: The Letter-Writing Manual in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: From Polite to Practical – Tony Fairman: Strike-Throughs: What Textual Alterations can Tell us about Writers and their Scripts, 1795-1835 – Anita Auer: «The letter wihch that I wrote»: Self-corrections in Late Modern English Letters – Marina Dossena: «We beg leave to refer to your decision»: Pragmatic Traits of Nineteenth-Century Business Correspondence – Stefan Dollinger: Colonial Variation in the Late Modern English Business Letter: ‘Periphery and Core’ or ‘Random Variation’?