Discourse Perspectives on English: Medieval to Modern by Risto Hiltunen (ed.), Janne Skaffari (ed.)

By Risto Hiltunen (ed.), Janne Skaffari (ed.)

Protecting approximately 1000 years, this quantity explores medieval and smooth English texts from clean views. in the particularly new box of old discourse linguistics, the synchronic research of enormous textual devices and attention of text-external beneficial properties with regards to discourse has up to now acquired little consciousness. To fill that hole, this quantity bargains reviews of medieval tutorial and spiritual texts and correspondence from the early sleek interval. The contributions spotlight writer-audience relationships, the meant use of texts, descriptions of text-type, and questions of orality and manuscript contextualization. the subjects, starting from the reception of previous English texts to the conventions of sensible guide in heart English to the epistolary development of technological know-how in early glossy English, are at once appropriate to historic linguists, discourse and textual content linguists, and scholars of the background of English.

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On þysum ilcan geare het se cyng ablendan Ælfgar Ælfrices sunu ealdormannes. (cochroe4/chrone: 127) ‘This year was B destroyed, and much booty was there taken. After that came the army to the mouth of the H. and there they did much evil both in L and in N. Then was gathered a very great army. and when they should engage in battle, then the generals ªrst commenced a ¶ight. that was, F and G and F. ’ Issues of orality and literacy in Old English texts The law samples have even more consistently low ªgures, characterizing legal discourse as a literate genre.

Swylce ic þus cweðe: gif man ræt þæne datarum on Sunnandæg, þænne byð an; gif on Sæterndæg þonne beoð seofon. (cobyrhtf/byrhtf: 46) ‘Truly, in this order the cycle passes through its course: note this, clerk, if you please. Though all the days each year have their concurrents, especially the day that is on the 24th March shows how many there are in the year. (Depending) on which day one reads the 24th March, so many are the concurrents. ’ Travelogue comes out as an in-between genre, as it displays frequencies more typical of oral discourse for taxis and pronouns, while the average frequency falls well below the averages of the literate samples for repetition and stays close to the literate average for private verbs and discourse markers.

Apart from the recurrence of formulas, these studies have noted the use of repetitive structures in general (Finnegan 1979), the occurrence of markers of text structure, especially particles (Enkvist 1986 on þa), and a looser episodic structure (Evans 1986) in narrative texts closer to orality. On the other hand, studies of early materials have focussed on speech-based and speech-related texts with the aim of determining how close they are to real spoken language. Danet and Bogogh, in their study of Anglo-Saxon wills (1992), characterize them as documents of oral acts that had already taken place and point to several features of oral discourse in these texts.

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