English in Great Britain since 1700

1. Explain the rise of Standard English pronunciation. What was its linguistic base and the vehicle of its introduction? What were the socio-historical circumstances?

What were the socio-historical circumstances:

- Demographic developments: URBANIZATION, The ongoing enclosures were push factors (Under enclosure a land is fenced and entitled to one or more owners. Enclosures caused a landless working class[1] and the pull factor was industrialization. This led to overpopulation is some areas such as English Southwest. Therefore people were resettled to for instance southeastern Ireland or to colonial territories .

- London and other urban centers: London- for many only a gateway to North America and later to Southern Hemisphere (India, Australia etc.) This movement first to London and then to other parts of the world may explain the relative uniformity of GenE throughout the world. - The Industrial Revolution and the transportation revolution: these are pointed to as the most important. During the 18th and 19th century, the effect of industrialization caused changes in transportation (turnpikes, canals, and railroads). Due to this possibility to travel, labor force mobility together with supra-regional markets started.

- Education and the mass media: By the 1840 majority could probably read and write. The publishing market was expanding. Printing cost were reduced together with cost of distribution thank to rapid rail transportation.

→→ This led to weakening of the rural traditional dialects and an upsurge of new urban varieties in the process of dialect leveling or koinéization.

Linguistic base:

- Despite linguistic leveling distinctions were retained between North (English North and Scotland), East Midlands, industrializing West Midlands (Irish labor force, dialect contact-Liverpool), and the South. The North was accompanied by literature on its own that showed local consciousness and pride in vernacular culture and language. The same was happening with dialect of working classes -koiné was a marker of class solidarity.

the vehicle of its introduction:

- Prescriptivism and Codification (viz.below)

→→ All this had a great impact on the Rise of Standard English

Rise of Standard English pronunciation:

- emerged in the mid-nineteenth century from the language of the boys at the elite private boarding schools of England

- the accent connected with the power and prestige of the speakers = the upper-class people => therefore Standart English pronunciation associated with competence and status

- thanks to its development and prominent position, it is often presented as reference accent = something which is associated with people from a fairly wide region and with people of high social class, seemingly accentless, = Received Pronunciation, also known as BBC English (as it was used in the radio-broadcasting from its beginnings in the 1920s)

- today modified and graudally displaced by Estuary English – London regional RP, a koineized form of English developing in London and its vicinity (the Thames Estuary and the lower Thames valley – e.g. Essex, northern Kent) - characterized by a mixture of features drawn from middle-class and working-class speech, spreading to other part of the Great Britain as well

2. Comment on the history of English spelling reforms. What and how were they trying to accomplish. What were their results

- Spelling conventions of ModE different from EModE
- The accepted changes were the following:
            - Lower case letters for all but proper nouns, adjectives and verbs (Britain, Welsh, Anglicize)
            - The “long” <ɾ> as in “ɾpeech” disappeared
            - The <k> at the ends of words like Teutonick disappeared too
- Variety of movements which wanted to change English ortography:
            - wanted the one-to-one relationship between phoneme and letters in the alphabet
            - alphabetic principle was more or less maintained (except for Pitman shorthand and Lodwick's Universal Alphabet)
- "New Spelling" by Simplified Spelling Society of Great Britain:
            - <k>  for /k/ sounds in all instances --> kanot, konsekraet, detrakt
            - /ð/ is spelled as <dh> as in dhis 
            - final <e> is dropped in words such as sens
- StE spelling gives preference to etymological spellings --> causes inter-linguistic intelligibility
- Scots spelling is similar to StE spelling but there are some Scottish conventions such as <ui> for fronted /(j)y/

3. What are the foundations of English codification? Contrast this with the situation of a different language.

  • Why? Because of a desire to fix the language in its ideal state
  • In 17th and 18th century, standard English was a part of nationalism which, with increasing levels of education, got into actual use
  • Codification was largely a prescriptivist project to "purify the language" affecting areas of pronunciation, grammar, spelling and vocabulary
  • It could be viewed as the elite imposing their language (and manners, which was believed to be connected) on others
  • The expectation of everyone abiding to the standard caused two problems: the need to extend English to users of other languages (Welsh) and the misapprehension that standard English correlates with intelligence and, which was partially true, with higher education
  • The prescribing of norm becomes more relevant as the language becomes more complex and has more aspirants to use its full potential
  • Desire to know the standard created a tradition of books of grammar and orthoepy and dictionaries, such as Samuel Johnson's "A Dictionary of English Language"
  • The dictionary used analogy and experience from renowned authors' work, nor as old as Chaucer, nor too recent
  • The main concerns in forming the standard were for example the new terms in language due to the influence of colonies and immigrants, class, gender, ethnicity, age and region all becoming important factors to language which had to be contained, grammaticalization of certain areas
  • At first there was a desire to make an academy (like it was the case of French) to take care of the language, but in the end the English relied on works of individual grammarians setting the standards
  • That made the language at first open to regionalisms because of bias but that was gone by the end of 17th century

4. Define the terms substrate and superstrate. How do they cooperate and contribute to linguistic change?

• Substratum = a language that influences but is replaced by a second language

• Superstratum = the language that succeeds the preceding (substrated) language•

5. What are the major dialects of Late Modern English in Britain? Exemplify some of the differences.

1. THE NORTH Northumberland, Druham, Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire, Yorkshire, north of Humber and Mersey Rivers)

• The Northern Subject Rule = "the verbal –s suffix can be used with a plural noun subject as well as with demonstrative pronoun subjects, but not with a personal pronoun…” (Filippula 2004: 88)

• Northern Vernacular Pronoun Use = 2nd person sg “tha” (no special verb inflection – no “-st”) x “thee”

• Article – definite article is more widely used than in StE and often reduced

• Modals – (comparable to Scotland) – may, shall, ought are rare; must is epistemic only; modal-like need, want are followed by past participle

• NORTH x SOUTH: The FOOT-STRUT split (South + parts of Ireland)

3. SCOTLAND – The Lowlands of Scotland

• Morphology: irregular plural nouns, missing distinction between 2nd person singular and plural pronouns; number in nouns is unmarked after numerals; plural subject nouns take “is” and “was” (Northern Subject Rule)

• Syntax: Negation by “no” “not” or “nae”; Tense and aspect (similar to North); Conditionals; Reflexives used in non-reflexive contexts; Modal verbs – almost no use of “shall” and “ought”

• Pronunciation: phonemes /hw/ and /x/; consonant clusters (knee, write), /u:/ in words like “aboot” “hoose”; front /e:/ in “hame” (home) or “bane” (bone)• Vocabulary


• Standard Irish English: loan words from Gaelic (clan, whiskey), idioms and expressions; pronunciation close to RP

• Vernacular: Tense, aspect, verb

6. Sum up the grammatical developments in Standard English from 1700.

- Little has happened since 1700. The TMA (tense-modal-aspect) were completed. The progressive was extended to the passive (the house was building x PdE the house is being built).

- The development of the modal verb: is connected with preterite-present verbs all of which do not employ the third person singular present tense inflection {-s}. The reason for this is because the traditional auxiliaries (may, must, can, will, shall) were originally paste tense forms (preterites).

More recent features > lack of the use of periphrastic do that apply to all the auxiliaries primary aux. (be, have, do) and modal aux.) resulted in - direct negation, inversion in question, reduced forms: I may go x so may you, emphatic affirmation: Must we run? Yes, we must. Four of the five listed modals have new past tenses; however, they do not have non-finite forms (no infinitive, no present or past participle). The traditional modals are also characterized by the absence of to before the following infinitive.

• Completion of TMA (tense-modality-aspect) – eg. Extension progressive → passive

• Expansion of modal auxiliaries → reduction of subjunctive

• Extended restriction of modals → renewed modal system (grammaticalization, lexicalization)
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