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Title: Joseph Priestley, Grammarian
Subtitle: Late Modern English normativism and usage in a sociohistorical context
Written By: Robin Straaijer

The eighteenth century was a key period in the establishment of standard
modern English. This period, referred to as the Late Modern English period,
witnessed the publication of an unprecedented number of normative works
aiming to define ‘correct’ English. Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) is best
known as a scientist and theologian, but his Rudiments of English Grammar,
first published in 1761 is an important work in the wave of English normative
grammars of the late eighteenth century. Using a multi-disciplinary approach,
this book investigates Priestley’s role as a codifier of the English language.
The author demonstrates that the influence of Priestley’s grammar on the
language has been underestimated and merits re-evaluation. Priestley’s ideas
on grammar are related to his broader philosophical thinking. It is shown that,
although Priestley is usually seen as one of the few descriptive grammarians
of the period, his grammar also contains decidedly prescriptive elements, and
that his adherence to the force of usage should be qualified. In addition,
Priestley’s usage is compared to the rules in his grammar using a corpus of
Priestley’s personal correspondence, created for this study. This book is of
interest to sociohistorical linguists studying Late Modern English and
historical linguists in general, as well as to social historians and anyone
interested in Joseph Priestley or the Late Modern period in England.

Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke (LOT)
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
History of Linguistics
Discipline of Linguistics
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Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9789460930522