LINGUIST List 16.533

Wed Feb 23 2005

Books: Historical Ling/Socioling, Middle English: Bergs

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        1.    Julia Ulrich, Social Networks and Historical Sociolinguistics: Bergs

Message 1: Social Networks and Historical Sociolinguistics: Bergs

Date: 22-Feb-2005
From: Julia Ulrich <>
Subject: Social Networks and Historical Sociolinguistics: Bergs

Title: Social Networks and Historical Sociolinguistics
Subtitle: Studies in Morphosyntactic Variation in the Paston Letters (1421-1503)
Series Title: Topics in English Linguistics 51
Published: 2005
Publisher: Mouton de Gruyter

Book URL:

Author: Alexander T. Bergs, Department of English Language and Linguistics, University of Düsseldorf
Hardback: ISBN: 3110183102 Pages: xii, 318 Price: Europe EURO 88.00 Comment: Approx. US$ 106.00

The book presents an analysis of selected domains of morphosyntactic
variation in a 250,000 word collection of the Middle English Paston Letters
(1421-1503) from a historical sociolinguistic point of view. In the three
case studies, two nominal and one verbal variable are described and
discussed in detail: the replacement of Old English pronouns by
borrowed pronouns, the introduction and spread of the
wh-relativizers, and the spread and routinization of light verb
constructions (take, make, give, have, do plus deverbal noun).

While the study aims at a balanced integration of theories and methods from
a number of different approaches in sociolinguistics, cognitive
linguistics, typology, and language change, its main focus is social
network theory and the role of the linguistic individual in the formation
and change of language structures. Questions of individual language use and
of deliberate versus unmonitored changes in the (individual) system take
center stage and are discussed in the light of social network analysis.
Traditional empirical social network analysis is carefully revised. Despite
its many merits in present-day sociolinguistics, it often needs to be
supplemented by hermeneutic-biographical analyses of the individual
speakers' lives when applied to historical data. With this background,
common theories and models of language change, such as grammaticalization,
paradigmatic pressure, typological alignment, and generational shifts, are
illustrated and evaluated from the point of view of single speakers and
social groups, and their particular embedding in the speech community
through various network structures.

The book is of interest to advanced students and researchers in English and
general linguistics, Middle English, historical linguistics and language
change, corpus linguistics, as well as sociolinguistics.

Alexander T. Bergs is Assistant Professor at the Department of English
Language and Linguistics at Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.


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Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
                            Text/Corpus Linguistics
                            General Linguistics
                            Language Change

Subject Language(s): Middle English (ENX)

Written In: English (ENG )

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