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Sociolinguistic variation in morphological productivity in eighteenth-century English

Tanja Säily EMAIL logo

Abstract

This paper presents ongoing work on Säily and Suomela’s (2009) method of comparing type frequencies across subcorpora. The method is here used to study variation in the productivity of the suffixes -ness and -ity in the eighteenth-century sections of the Corpora of Early English Correspondence and of the Old Bailey Corpus (OBC). Unlike the OBC, the eighteenth-century section of the letter corpora differs from previously studied materials in that there is no significant gender difference in the productivity of -ity. The study raises methodological issues involving periodization, multiple hypothesis testing, and the need for an interactive tool. Several improvements have been implemented in a new version of our software.

Funding statement: Funding:This research was supported in part by Langnet, the Finnish Graduate School in Language Studies.

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Terttu Nevalainen and Jukka Suomela for discussions and assistance, and to anonymous reviewers and the editors of this special issue for helpful feedback. I would also like to thank the participants at the ISLE 2 workshop “Current methods in English diachronic linguistics”, organized by Martin Hilpert and Hubert Cuyckens, for comments on an earlier version of this paper. Thanks to Anne Gardner and Claire Cowie for their help with conquering the clergy.

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Corpora

CEEC =

Corpus of Early English Correspondence. 1998. Compiled by Terttu Nevalainen, Helena Raumolin-Brunberg, Jukka Keränen, Minna Nevala, Arja Nurmi & Minna Palander-Collin at the Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki. http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/CoRD/corpora/CEEC/ (accessed 15 October 2012).

CEECE=

Corpus of Early English Correspondence Extension. Compiled by Terttu Nevalainen, Helena Raumolin-Brunberg, Samuli Kaislaniemi, Mikko Laitinen, Minna Nevala, Arja Nurmi, Minna Palander-Collin, Tanja Säily & Anni Sairio at the Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki.

OBC=

Old Bailey Corpus, version 0.4. Based on Tim Hitchcock, Robert Shoemaker, Clive Emsley, Sharon Howard & Jamie McLaughlin et al., The Old Bailey Proceedings Online, 1674–1913. Compiled by Magnus Huber & team at the Department of English, University of Giessen. http://www.uni-giessen.de/oldbaileycorpus/ (accessed 15 October 2012).

Published Online: 2015-12-8
Published in Print: 2016-5-1

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