LINGUIST List 13.811

Mon Mar 25 2002

Diss: Historical Ling: Sonmez "English Spelling"

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. marmez, Historical Ling: Sonmez "English Spelling in the Seventeenth Century"

Message 1: Historical Ling: Sonmez "English Spelling in the Seventeenth Century"

Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 04:05:19 +0000
From: marmez <>
Subject: Historical Ling: Sonmez "English Spelling in the Seventeenth Century"

Institution: University of Durham
Program: Graduate English Department
Diss Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1993
Author: Margaret J-M Sonmez

Diss Title: 
English Spelling in the Seventeenth Century. A study of
standardisation as seen through the MS and printed versions of the
Duke of Newcastle's "A New Method . . ."
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics, History of Linguistics,
Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language: English

Diss Director: Ann Squires

Diss Abstract: 

This thesis investigates 17th century English spelling from the points
of view of variation and standardisation. Following a survey of both
contemporary and present-day commentaries on Early Modern English
spelling, the linguistic nature and social contexts of the
standardisation of written English are examined. In accordance with
Milroy 1992's research, it is found that this process may usefully be
studied as a form of language change. Unlike this earlier study,
however, it is postulated that the standardisation of spelling itself
(rather than of speech) will show patterns in variation that are
similar to those found in the spoken language where change is in

The comparative analysis of the spellings of manuscript and printed
versions of the first Duke of Newcastle's English book on horsemanship
shows variation at a number of different textual and linguistic
levels, conforming to sociolinguistic theories of variation patterning
in accordance with formality. This is the first attempt to examine
such spelling variation extensively, using methods other than
phoneme-grapheme mapping. The analyses provide specific and
numerically-substantiated information about 17th century spelling.
They also show that the process of spelling standardisation
demonstrates the patterns of structured variation that have been
associated by sociolinguists with change towards an acknowledged

Three appendices provide a complete word list of all spellings found
in manuscript and printed texts, with numerical occurrences, a list of
uncanonical verbal endings found in the texts, and a full, diplomatic
transcription of the manuscripts used in the analyses.
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