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The Language of the East Midlands and the Development of Standard English

A Study in Diachronic Phonology


Willard James Rusch

The historical lineage of Standard English has been a locus of scholarly research for over a century. And although the strong influence of the East Midlands dialect on Standard English has never been questioned, little agreement has been reached on how this dialect shaped the standardized language. This study takes a new approach to long-standing problems by recontextualizing the concept of a standard language in light of contemporary linguistic theory and through analyzing the vocalic sound systems of six texts that represent the East Midlands dialect from the early Old English period through 1250. Throughout the investigations into the separate texts, the problem of analyzing continuity between synchronic stages is emphasized, from both theoretical and empirical perspectives.
Contents: This study begins by positioning the concept of standardized language within current linguistic theory. Following the section on theory, separate chapters analyze the vocalic phonology of several historical texts (c. 750 AD to 1250) representing the dialect of English most closely associated with Standard English.