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LINGUIST List 17.124

Mon Jan 16 2006

FYI: Project: The Codifiers and the English Language

Editor for this issue: Svetlana Aksenova <svetlanalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Anita Auer, Project: The Codifiers and the English Language

Message 1: Project: The Codifiers and the English Language
Date: 16-Jan-2006
From: Anita Auer <a.auerlet.leidenuniv.nl>
Subject: Project: The Codifiers and the English Language

We would like to introduce a five-year project in the fields of 'English
Historical (Socio-)Linguistics' and the 'History of Linguistic Thought',
which has commenced at the University of Leiden, Netherlands in July 2005.
The project titled ''The Codifiers and the English Language: Tracing the
Norms of Standard English'' seeks to trace different aspects of the process
of linguistic influence during the Late Modern English period (1700-1900).
Linguistic influence is being investigated between individuals, within
social networks, from grammars and grammarians on other grammars as well as
on speakers and writers of English. Our investigations thus focus on the
final stages of the standardisation process, codification and prescription.

Questions like ''Where did eighteenth-century codifiers find the
linguistic norm they advocated in their grammars? How did their own
language compare with the norms of correctness they formulated? What was
the effect of normative writing on actual usage?'' will be addressed by
means of the research model of Social Network Analysis, which is being
adapted for the analysis of the full sociolinguistic competence of people
living in the past. The main approach taken in this project differs
substantially and significantly from current work in historical
sociolinguistics in that it focuses on the language of individuals as
reflected in private documents, published and unpublished, in the context
of the social networks to which they belonged. In doing so, the codifiers
themselves are treated as sociolinguistic informants. Their grammars are
looked at in the context in which they were produced and in which they
exercised their influence, on language users as well as on other grammars.
The grammars will therefore be considered as having similar roles as
individuals within social networks (linguistic innovators, early adopters,
followers). An important objective of the project is to put back
eighteenth-century grammarians on the linguistic agenda in order to create
a better understanding of normative grammar as such and, in particular,
prescriptive grammarians, their methods and motivations.

As part of this project workshops are being organised twice a
year that focus on topics such as grammars and grammar writing, social
networks, corpus linguistics, etc.

A detailed description of the project and its aims can be found
on the following website:
We also operate a web log (http://weblog.leidenuniv.nl/let/eng/codifiers/),
which may be used as a platform for academic exchange and which we invite
you to visit regularly.

If you are interested in the project or any aspects of it, don't
hesitate to get in touch with us at codifierslet.leidenuniv.nl or email
the principal investigator Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade at

Please note that there will be two vacancies for paid PhD
positions from 1 September 2006 (see the project website for further details).

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

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