Studies in the History of the English Language II: Unfolding Conversations contains selected papers from the SHEL-2 conference held at the University of Washington in Spring 2002. In the volume, scholars from North America and Europe address a broad spectrum of research topics in historical English linguistics, including new theories/methods such as Optimality Theory and corpus linguistics, and traditional fields such as phonology and syntax. In each of the four sections - Philology and linguistics; Corpus- and text-based studies; Constraint-based studies; Dialectology - a key article provides the focal point for a discussion between leading scholars, who respond directly to each other's arguments within the volume. In Section 1, Donka Minkova and Lesley Milroy explore the possibilities of historical sociolinguistics as part of a discussion of the distinction between philology and linguistics. In Section 2, Susan M. Fitzmaurice and Erik Smitterberg provide new research findings on the history and usage of progressive constructions. In Section 3, Geoffrey Russom and Robert D. Fulk reanalyze the development of Middle English alliterative meter. In Section 4, Michael Montgomery, Connie Eble, and Guy Bailey interpret new historical evidence of the pen/pin merger in Southern American English. The remaining articles address equally salient problems and possibilities within the field of historical English linguistics. The volume spans topics and time periods from Proto-Germanic sound change to twenty-first century dialect variation, and methodologies from painstaking philological work with written texts to high-speed data gathering in computerized corpora. As a whole, the volume captures an ongoing conversation at the heart of historical English linguistics: the question of evidence and historical reconstruction.
Anne Curzan is Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. Kimberly Emmons is Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA.