From Plenipotentiary to Puddingless: Users and Uses of New Words in Early English Letters

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/327805
Title: From Plenipotentiary to Puddingless: Users and Uses of New Words in Early English Letters
Author: Säily, Tanja; Mäkelä, Eetu; Hämäläinen, Mika
Date: 2021
Language: fi
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/327805
Abstract: We study neologism use in two samples of early English correspondence, from 1640-1660 and 1760-1780. Of especial interest are the early adopters of new vocabulary, the social groups they represent, and the types and functions of their neologisms. We describe our computer-assisted approach and note the difficulties associated with massive variation in the corpus. Our findings include that while male letter-writers tend to use neologisms more frequently than women, the eighteenth century seems to have provided more opportunities for women and the lower ranks to participate in neologism use as well. In both samples, neologisms most frequently occur in letters written between close friends, which could be due to this less stable relationship triggering more creative language use. In the seventeenth-century sample, we observe the influence of the English Civil War, while the eighteenth-century sample appears to reflect the changing functions of letter-writing, as correspondence is increasingly being used as a tool for building and maintaining social relationships in addition to exchanging information.
Subject: neologisms
Early Modern English
Late Modern English
historical sociolinguistics
digital humanities.
Rights: CC BY 4.0
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.fi


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