LINGUIST List 16.141
Tue Jan 18 2005
Diss: Pragmatics/Socioling: Nevala: 'Address in...'
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Address in Early English Correspondence: Its Forms and Socio-Pragmatic Functions
Message 1: Address in Early English Correspondence: Its Forms and Socio-Pragmatic Functions
From: Minna Nevala <minna.nevalahelsinki.fi>
Subject: Address in Early English Correspondence: Its Forms and Socio-Pragmatic Functions
Institution: University of Helsinki
Program: Department of English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004
Author: Minna K Nevala
Dissertation Title: Address in Early English Correspondence: Its Forms and Socio-Pragmatic Functions
Subject Language(s): English (ENG)
This study focuses on address forms in personal correspondence between
1400 and 1800. The purpose is to look at the use of address as a social and
pragmatic phenomenon, and the focus is on the description of different
forms of address as well as the pragmatic functions the use of address
serves in personal relationships.
The dissertation consists of the methodological background and the
studies. Firstly, it explains the social basis for the use of address: the
stratification of early English society and the related issues of social
mobility and literacy are discussed. Other issues connected with letter-
writing in general, such as letter-writing manuals and delivery methods, are
also introduced. Secondly, the background comprises the pragmatic
models used in the studies.
The material comes from the Corpus of Early English Correspondence
(CEEC). The corpus consists of 4.4 million words in c. 10,000 personal
letters from about 1,000 writers (including the Extension and Supplement
to the 1998 version).
The studies show that there are clear diachronic changes in the form and
function of address. In general, address formulae are shortened, some
titles even further conventionalized. Pragmatic changes include the
increase in the use of positively polite address formulae in letters between
close correspondents. Address used between distant correspondents
requires a certain level of negative politeness, and therefore titles and
honorifics are used. Later changes in the social structure may have
influenced the standardisation of address, particularly in letters between
socially distant correspondents; nevertheless, individual preferences have
existed in direct address in letters between mutually close correspondents.
The influence of normative letter-writing manuals on the use of address
seems, however, to have remained marginal.
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