Studies in Late Modern English Correspondence: Methodology and Data

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The studies presented in this volume concentrate on aspects of Late Modern English correspondence in the usage of individuals belonging to different social classes, writing for different purposes, and finding themselves in different social contexts, both in Britain and in its colonies. As the growing body of research published in recent years has shown, analysing the language of letters presents both a challenge and an opportunity to obtain access to as full a range of styles as would be possible for a period for which we only have access to the language in its written form. It is an area of study in which all the contributors have considerable expertise, which affords them to present data findings while discussing important methodological issues. In addition, in most cases data derive from specially-designed `second-generation' corpora, reflecting state-of-the-art approaches to historical sociolinguistics and pragmatics. Theoretical issues concerning letters as a text type, their role in social network analysis, and their value in the identification of register or variety specific traits are highlighted, alongside issues concerning the (often less than easy) relationship between strictly codified norms and actual usage on the part of speakers whose level of education could vary considerably.