Inversion after initial negators
Interestingly, no social marking seems to be attached to inversion, or lack of it, after initial negators today. The inversion process, too, was led by men in the Tudor period. Figure 6.13 suggests that women did not catch up with it until the latter half of the sixteenth century. Unfortunately, there is not enough data to analyse the process further in social terms.
But it is possible to connect multiple negation and inversion after initial negators linguistically: they provide alternative ways for marking the scope of sentential negation (Nevalainen 1998: 283-284). As multiple negation disappears as a scope marker, inversion comes to replace it. The linguistic connection lends support to the systematic gender affiliation, male advantage, shown by the corpus data with both innovations.
Relative pronoun which
The generalization of the relative pronoun which is another case of male advantage in our data. The dip in the second half of the fifteenth century in the S-curve in Figure 6.14 is also associated with men. It is explained by social facts: which was preferred by upper-rank and professional men in 1460-99, while the which was clearly favoured by London merchants, who are well represented in the period (see 7.4.3.). The which is also the form preferred by women, who differ from the men of their own ranks until the middle of the sixteenth century. Figure 6.14 excludes Sabine Johnson, the merchant's wife: she continues to prefer the which almost 100 per cent of the time, and so deviates from all her contemporaries in 1540-79 (see Appendix 5.3.).
Figure 6.13. Inversion vs. direct word-order after clause-initial negators. Gender distribution of inversion. CEEC 1996; collection-based search.
Figure 6.14. Relative pronoun the which vs. which. Gender distribution of which. CEEC 1998; excluding Sabine Johnson.
As the diffusion of which was well under way in the early fifteenth century, we cannot say when the gender difference first emerged. We can, however, surmise that it was related to women's restricted access to the professional usage of the day: which is common in fifteenth-century statutes and official correspondence (Raumolin-Brunberg 2000).