Prescriptivism in action : Evaluating the production and reception of reviewer prescriptivism in Late Modern English

Malory, Beth and Culpeper, Jonathan and Hollmann, Willem (2021) Prescriptivism in action : Evaluating the production and reception of reviewer prescriptivism in Late Modern English. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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It has long been hypothesized that the literary review periodicals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were a consistent source of prescriptive material, and that this material had a significant impact on the language usage of reviewed authors. However, a lack of empirical research in this area has left both of these hypotheses unsubstantiated by empirical data. Difficulties have beset attempts to evaluate the success of prescriptivist endeavours in other contexts, rendering attempts to do so in relation to Late Modern review periodicals a significant challenge. However, the purpose of this thesis is to redress the data gaps which exist in relation both to our understanding of how review periodicals mediated prescriptivist discourses, and what the impact of this prescriptivism was. In redressing the data gap relating to the production and dissemination of normative materials within the context of periodical reviewing, this thesis firstly applies discourse analytic methodologies to a purpose-built corpus of review articles from 1750-1899. These investigations demonstrate clearly, for the first time, that the vernacular literary review periodicals published in Britain from the mid-eighteenth century can indeed be considered consistent sources of prescriptive commentary. Thereafter, attention is turned to examining the impact that normative judgments in this context could have on the authors at the receiving end of reviewer prescriptivism. In order to do this, this thesis reports the results of a single-author case study, and advocates the application of a novel statistical method to the evaluation of prescriptivism. This method, change point analysis, has previously been applied to linguistic datasets only rarely, but is shown here to be remarkably suitable for examining prescriptive impact at the idiolectal level. This case study also demonstrates the highly significant impact which prescriptivism mediated through the genre of the periodical review could have on the Late Modern author.

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Thesis (PhD)
?? linguistics & english languageprescriptivismmodellinghistorical linguisticshistory of englisheighteenth centurynineteenth centurygrammar ??
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09 Jul 2021 17:50
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:55