Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: The development of future time expressions in Late Modern English: redistribution of forms or change in discourse?
Author: Nadja Nesselhauf
Institution: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis; Historical Linguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: 'This article provides the first comprehensive analysis of the development of the future time expressions 'will', '’ll', 'shall', 'be going to', progressive with future time reference, and 'be to' in the course of the late modern period. The article focuses on possible reasons for the considerable changes that have taken place in the past few centuries. To what degree can the changes be described as certain forms having been (partially) replaced by others? To what degree have general or register-specific changes in discourse affected the use of future time expressions? These questions are investigated on the basis of the British part of ARCHER ('A Representative Corpus of Historical English Registers').
The analysis reveals that it is a complex interaction of both types of processes that is responsible for the recent evolution of future time expressions. Redistribution processes turn out to be highly complex in themselves, going far beyond the frequently described replacement of 'shall' by 'will' and probably proceeding in chains. With respect to discourse change, one result is an unexpected overall decrease in the tendency of writers (and speakers) to refer to their own plans, intentions, etc. Partly responsible for this development is a discourse change in science writing, where the author has increasingly disappeared from the text, so that text structure is much less frequently expressed in terms of the author's intention. A further register-specific discourse change that the investigation brings to light is a development in diaries from an earlier restriction to reporting past events to the expression of more personal views, including hopes and fears for the future.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 14, Issue 2.

Return to TOC.

Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page