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Annette Kern-Stähler, Beatrix Busse and Wietse de Boer

The essays collected in The Five Senses in Medieval and Early Modern England examine the interrelationships between sense perception and secular and Christian cultures in England from the medieval into the early modern periods. They address canonical texts and writers in the fields of poetry, drama, homiletics, martyrology and early scientific writing, and they espouse methods associated with the fields of corpus linguistics, disability studies, translation studies, art history and archaeology, as well as approaches derived from traditional literary studies.

Together, these papers constitute a major contribution to the growing field of sensorial research that will be of interest to historians of perception and cognition as well as to historians with more generalist interests in medieval and early modern England.

Contributors include: Dieter Bitterli, Beatrix Busse, Rory Critten, Javier Díaz-Vera, Tobias Gabel, Jens Martin Gurr, Katherine Hindley, Farah Karim-Cooper, Annette Kern-Stähler, Richard Newhauser, Sean Otto, Virginia Richter, Elizabeth Robertson, and Kathrin Scheuchzer


Claudia Claridge

The topic of this book fits in with the recently growing interest in phraseology and fixedness in English. It offers a description of multi-word verbs in the language of the 17th and 18th centuries, an important formative period for Modern English. For the first time, multi-word verbs are treated together as a group, as it is argued that phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs, phrasal-prepositional verbs, verb-adjective combinations and verbo-nominal combinations share defining characteristics. These characteristics are also reflected in similar possibilities of usage, in particular the subtle modification of verbal meaning and these verbs' potential for topicalization structures, both leading to a greater expressiveness.
Using a new text collection, the Lampeter Corpus of Early Modern English Tracts (1640-1740), the study provides a description of the multi-word verb types found, their syntactic behaviour, and their semantic structure. The composition of the corpus also allowed the examination of the development of these verbs over time and in different registers. The corpus study is supplemented by an investigation of attitudes towards multi-word verbs with the help of contemporary works on language, leading to a more speculative discussion of the factors influencing the choice between multi-word and simplex verbs.

The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702)

A Social History of the Use of Dutch in Early Modern Britain


Christopher Joby

In The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702) Christopher Joby offers an account of the knowledge and use of Dutch in early modern Britain. Using extensive archive material from Britain and the Low Countries, Chris Joby demonstrates that Dutch was both written and spoken in a range of social domains including the church, work, learning, the home, diplomacy, the military and navy, and the court. Those who used the language included artisans and their families fleeing religious and economic turmoil on the continent; the Anglo-Dutch King, William III; and Englishmen such as the scientist Robert Hooke. Joby’s account adds both to our knowledge of the use of Dutch in the early modern period and multilingualism in Britain at this time.

Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks

In a 2013 forum published in German History , “Globalizing Early Modern German History”, I was one of five historians asked to reflect on “the ways in which early modern scholars might not only respond to but also drive forward the narratives and curricula of global history.” 1 Along with


Shang Wei


When modern Chinese intellectuals embarked on what they claimed to be a vernacularization movement in the second decade of the twentieth century, they took modern Europe as their putative model. They argued that China, in its ongoing transformation from the old empire into a modern nation-state, must undergo a similar shift in which the “dead” classical writing was superseded by a vernacular writing rooted in the “living language.” Despite their apparent adherence to modern discourse on language revolution and nation-state building, however, the revolution they initiated moved in the opposite direction. Instead of promoting one or more written forms of the “regional vulgar tongues,” they replaced the established classical writing with “plain writing,” which had originated in the tenth century and continued to be an integral component of the writing system of the empire. In so doing, they succeeded in inventing a cosmopolitan national language that, through the subsequent state-sponsored standardization of pronunciation, would effectively overtake all the existing regional tongues (including Cantonese, Hakka, and the language of Amoy, or South Min) and become “the mother tongue” of the whole Chinese people. Taking this non-European, “vernacularization-by-writing” movement as the starting point for a scholarly inquiry, we gain an illuminating perspective on the unique path China has taken to become a nation-state and a better understanding of the writing culture and linguistic politics of the bygone empire. This approach also allows us to more adequately appreciate the legacy of the early modern empire in the making of the modern Chinese nation and the radical transformations China underwent in the modern era.


Benjamin A. Elman


Was imperial China a meritocracy? If so, were civil examinations an important part of what made it a meritocracy? Did the standard training program in the classical language serve as a gatekeeper to keep non-elites out? Due to the symbiotic relations between the court and its officials, the asymmetrical relations between the powerful throne at the center and its disparate elites nonetheless empowered elites to seek upward mobility through the classical language. But true social mobility (i.e., peasants becoming officials) was never the goal of the imperial state. The modest level of social circulation enabled by a classical education was a precocious harbinger of the unifying power of a common written language in the early modern world and an unexpected consequence of the meritocratic civil service.By limiting their focus to the civil examination graduates, earlier accounts of the civil service failed to tell us what classical literacy meant for the vast majority of candidates (over 90 percent of whom failed!) or the society at large. To see the larger place of the classical language in Chinese society, we must look beyond the official meritocracy of the graduates and their immediate families. One of the unintended consequences of the civil examinations was the creation of millions of classically literate men and women, perhaps 10 percent of the population (200–250 million in 1600), who used their linguistic talents for a variety of nonofficial purposes, becoming hereditary doctors or classically trained literati physicians, local pettifoggers, fiction writers, and examination essay teachers. If there was much social mobility (i.e., the opportunity for members of the lower classes to rise in the social hierarchy), it was likely here. The archives indicate that peasants, traders, and artisans, who made up over 90 percent of the population, were not among those 100 annual or 50,000 total palace graduates between 1371 and 1904. Nor were the lower estates a significant part of the two to three million who failed biennial licensing examinations. What many who follow P’ing-ti Ho mean by the anachronistic term "social mobility" might be better described as a “healthy circulation” of lower and upper elites via classical literacies.

The Genitive Case in Dutch and German

A Study of Morphosyntactic Change in Codified Languages


Alan Scott

In The Genitive Case in Dutch and German: A Study of Morphosyntactic Change in Codified Languages, Alan K. Scott offers an account of the tension that exists between morphosyntactic change and codification, focusing on the effect that codification has had on the genitive case and alternative constructions in both languages. On the basis of usage data from a wide variety of registers, from the 16th century to the present day, Alan K. Scott demonstrates that codification has preserved obsolescent morphological genitive constructions in Dutch and German while suppressing their potential replacements, and shows that, despite its association with norm-conformant language, the genitive is used to a surprisingly large extent in informal early modern Dutch and modern German sources.

Corpora Across the Centuries

Proceedings of the First International Colloquium on English Diachronic Corpora. St Catharine’s College Cambridge, 25-27 March 1993


Edited by Merja Kytö, Matti Rissanen and Susan Wright

This is the first book to give an overall survey of the ongoing projects in diachronic computerized corpora of English. The volume is based on the papers read at the First International Colloquium for English Diachronic Corpora, held at Cambridge in March 1993.
Twelve historical English corpora, completed and in preparation, are introduced in the volume. Most of these can be described as mult-genre corpora; a few concentrate either on one genre only, or on the works of a single author.
Chronologically, these corpora span more than twelve centuries, from the beginnings of documented Old English up to our days. Besides Southern British English, corpus projects on Older Scots, Early American English, and Irish English are introduced. Some of the reports contain discussions of such important questions as genre division, normalization, and problems ofsampling.
In addition to corpus compilation projects, the volume contains reports on major projects in the field of the history of English utilizing corpora and specialized software. Two linguistic atlases (Early Middle English, Older Scots), and two dictionary projects (Early Modern English and Samuel Johnson), are introduced, as well as the English Historical Thesaurus, with a separate paper on the Old English Thesaurus. The volume also contains up-to-date information on software specially developed for historical corpus work (LEXA), on different kinds of network resources, and on the Text Encoding Intiative (TEI).