|About the Book|
Historical Sociolinguistics presents a unique, sociolinguistic perspective on the history of the English language. Based on original empirical research on personal letters, the book discusses the factors that promoted linguistic changes in earlier English, and the people who were the leading force behind them. Nevalainen and Raumolin-Brunberg focus on the major grammatical developments that shaped the language in the early modern period - the period that laid the foundations for modern Standard English.The authors adopt an interdisciplinary approach, exploring the extent to which sociolinguistic models and methods can be applied to the history of English. They begin by comparing different ways of studying the social contexts of language use, and then go on to discuss the users of Tudor and Stuart English against their social and cultural backgrounds. The subsequent chapters relate a number of well-known changes in the English language, including the third-person endings in verbs and loss of multiple negation, to such sociolinguistic factors as real and apparent time, gender, social status, and regional and register variation.Sociolinguistic research has produced strong evidence of the relevance of social factors to linguistic change in present-day speech communities. Historical Sociolinguistics shows how historical linguists can make use of social and demographic history when analysing and interpreting linguistic variation over an extended period of time.Terttu Nevalainen is a Professor of English Philology in the Department of English, University of Helsinki. She is the author of Sociolinguistics and Language History (1996, with Helena Raumolin-Brunberg), and Early Modern English Lexis and Semantics (1999).Helena Raumolin-Brunberg is a Senior Researcher in the Department of English, University of Helsinki. She has published The Noun Phrase in Early Sixteenth-Century English: A Study Based on Sir Thomas Mores Writings (1991) and Sociolinguistics and Language History (1996, with Terttu Nevalainen).