Patterns of Change in 18th-century English

A sociolinguistic approach

ORCID logoTerttu Nevalainen | University of Helsinki
ORCID logoMinna Palander-Collin | University of Helsinki
ORCID logoTanja Säily | University of Helsinki
ISBN 9789027201034 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
e-Book Open Access
ISBN 9789027263834
Google Play logo

Eighteenth-century English is often associated with normative grammar. But to what extent did prescriptivism impact ongoing processes of linguistic change? The authors of this volume examine a variety of linguistic changes in a corpus of personal correspondence, including the auxiliary do, verbal -s and the progressive aspect, and they conclude that direct normative influence on them must have been minimal.

The studies are contextualized by discussions of the normative tradition and the correspondence corpus, and of eighteenth-century English society and culture. Basing their work on a variationist sociolinguistic approach, the authors introduce the models and methods they have used to trace the progress of linguistic changes in the “long” eighteenth century, 1680–1800. Aggregate findings are balanced by analysing individuals and their varying participation in these processes. The final chapter places these results in a wider context and considers them in relation to past sociolinguistic work.

One of the major findings of the studies is that in most cases the overall pace of change was slow. Factors retarding change include speaker evaluation and repurposing outgoing features, in particular, for certain styles and registers.

[Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics, 8] 2018.  xi, 311 pp.
Publishing status: Available

For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at [email protected].

Table of Contents
“This book offers important insights into linguistic variation and change in 18th century England. Across morpho-syntactic variables, multiple methods and embedding their analyses in broader context, the authors demonstrate well-known sociolinguistic principles, e.g. women lead change. Yet important nuances emerge, e.g. synthetic resources increase over time (-ity, -ness). Together, these findings provide a critical real time backdrop for contemporary studies. It’s the next best thing to time travel!”
“This excellent collection delivers more than the sum of its parts. [...] In all cases, the authors are long-term experts on their variables. Across their studies, interesting and significant variation arises from the team’s rigorously coherent approach. Their array of perspectives should attract and satisfy a broad audience. [...] Scholars in other disciplines can rely on this team’s key findings.”
Cited by

Cited by 12 other publications

Ayres-Bennett, Wendy & John Bellamy
2021. Introduction. In The Cambridge Handbook of Language Standardization,  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Wendy Ayres-Bennett & John Bellamy
2021. The Cambridge Handbook of Language Standardization, DOI logo
Blas Arroyo, José Luis
2023. Same people, different outcomes: the sociolinguistic profile of three language changes in the history of Spanish. A corpus-based approach. Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics 9:1  pp. 97 ff. DOI logo
Degaetano-Ortlieb, Stefania, Tanja Säily & Yuri Bizzoni
2021. Registerial Adaptation vs. Innovation Across Situational Contexts: 18th Century Women in Transition. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence 4 DOI logo
Drinka, Bridget & Whitney Chappell
2021. New perspectives on Spanish socio-historical linguistics. In Spanish Socio-Historical Linguistics [Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics, 12],  pp. 2 ff. DOI logo
Kostadinova, Viktorija, Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, Marco Wiemann, Gea Dreschler, Sune Gregersen, Beáta Gyuris, Kathryn Allan, Maggie Scott, Lieselotte Anderwald, Sven Leuckert, Tihana Kraš, Alessia Cogo, Tian Gan, Ida Parise, Shawnea Sum Pok Ting, Juliana Souza Da Silva, Beke Hansen & Ian Cushing
2020. I English Language. The Year's Work in English Studies 99:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Kytö, Merja & Erik Smitterberg
2020. Introduction. In Late Modern English [Studies in Language Companion Series, 214],  pp. 2 ff. DOI logo
Love, Robbie
2021. Swearing in informal spoken English: 1990s–2010s. Text & Talk 41:5-6  pp. 739 ff. DOI logo
Nevalainen, Terttu
2020. Present-Day Standard English. In Language Change,  pp. 123 ff. DOI logo
Saario, Lassi, Tanja Säily, Samuli Kaislaniemi & Terttu Nevalainen
2021. The burden of legacy: Producing the Tagged Corpus of Early English Correspondence Extension (TCEECE). Research in Corpus Linguistics 9:1  pp. 104 ff. DOI logo
Säily, Tanja, Arja Nurmi, Minna Palander-Collin & Anita Auer
2017. The future of historical sociolinguistics?. In Exploring Future Paths for Historical Sociolinguistics [Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics, 7],  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Säily, Tanja, Turo Vartiainen, Harri Siirtola & Terttu Nevalainen
2024. Changing styles of letter-writing?. In Unlocking the History of English [Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 364],  pp. 154 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 28 march 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CF/2AB: Linguistics/English

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009010: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Historical & Comparative
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2018014190 | Marc record