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Thou and you in Late Middle Scottish and Early Modern Northern English witness depositions


Leitner, Magdalena (2013). Thou and you in Late Middle Scottish and Early Modern Northern English witness depositions. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 14(1):100-129.

Abstract

In contrast to Early Modern English, little is known about address pronouns in Scotland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This paper investigates early Scottish pronoun usage in more detail by presenting a case study on singular pronominal address in Late Middle Scottish and Early Modern Northern English witness depositions from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The source texts drawn from the Criminal Trials in Scotland 1488–1624, the Helsinki Corpus of Older Scots 1450–1700 and A Corpus of English Dialogues 1560–1760 are examined with a quantitative and qualitative approach based on historical pragmatics and historical sociolinguistics. Thou is found to be relatively frequent in the Scottish and Northern English data in comparison with the rapid decline in thou recently found in South-Eastern English depositions. However, there are significant differences in the distributions of pronouns, which are explained by an overrepresentation of upper social ranks in the Scottish sub-corpus.

Abstract

In contrast to Early Modern English, little is known about address pronouns in Scotland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This paper investigates early Scottish pronoun usage in more detail by presenting a case study on singular pronominal address in Late Middle Scottish and Early Modern Northern English witness depositions from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The source texts drawn from the Criminal Trials in Scotland 1488–1624, the Helsinki Corpus of Older Scots 1450–1700 and A Corpus of English Dialogues 1560–1760 are examined with a quantitative and qualitative approach based on historical pragmatics and historical sociolinguistics. Thou is found to be relatively frequent in the Scottish and Northern English data in comparison with the rapid decline in thou recently found in South-Eastern English depositions. However, there are significant differences in the distributions of pronouns, which are explained by an overrepresentation of upper social ranks in the Scottish sub-corpus.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:Older Scots, pronouns of address, regional variation, Early Modern English
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:20 Feb 2015 10:32
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:48
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing
ISSN:1566-5852
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1075/jhp.14.1.04lei

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