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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 1, 2013

A-prefixing in Civil War letters from Northwestern South Carolina: Constraints, individual and community grammars

Radosław Dylewski


The present study deals with the process of a-prefixation in the mid-nineteenth-century dialect(s) of a selected part of South Carolina. This phenomenon is said to have been brought to America with immigrants from the southern parts of Great Britain. For the purpose of the study, a corpus of Civil War letters has been compiled in such a way as to assure at least relative geographical and social homogeneity. Specifically, letters written by soldiers of the rank of private hailing from three counties located in South Carolina, i.e. Greenville, Pickens, and York, found their way to the corpus. Since these privates wrote as they spoke, elements of the spoken idiom are presumed to transpire in their correspondence. On the basis of this corpus both quantitative and qualitative studies of the grammatical phenomenon known as a-prefixation have been carried out. Their purpose is to verify whether the constraints proposed by Walt Wolfram for the twentieth century context also hold in the case of a century earlier. Finally, this investigation looks at the process of prefixation from the perspectives of idiolects and community grammars.

Received: 2013-04-20
Revised: 2013-10-16
Accepted: 2013-10-16
Published Online: 2013
Published in Print: 2013

© Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland, 2013

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