Home Language & Literature Historical Sociolinguistics: Language Change in Tudor and Stuart England
Noun subject of the gerund
The data on the noun subject of the gerund are too scarce to present any accurate regional breakdowns. But some trends can be perceived that may
Figure 8.3. Noun subject of the gerund. Regional distribution of the genitive. CEEC 1998; percentages.
later be checked against a larger database. The combined figures for London/ the Court and East Anglia/the North suggest that the change was promoted by the capital area. The drop in the Northern regions in 1660-81 shown by Figure 8.3 may well be a corpus artefact with the variable total of only 24 instances in that cell. But it is noteworthy that by 1580, when our record begins, the change had already advanced to mid-range. It is therefore impossible to tell whether what looks like a systematic lead of the capital region represents a long-standing metropolitan advantage or is merely a reflection of the snowball effect.
Periphrastic do in affirmative statements
As shown in Chapter 4, the use of affirmative periphrastic do began to decline in the seventeenth century. The turning point in the process can be traced to the first two decades of the century. A polar contrast emerges between the four regions, with East Anglia and the North on the one side, and London and the Court on the other (Figure 8.4).
The frequency of do drops radically in London and at Court in the first two decades of the seventeenth century - according to Nurmi (1999a), due to the influence of the arrival of the Scottish Court of James I in London - while it continues to rise in East Anglia and in the North. The change follows the model set by the capital. The overall declining trend can be perceived in all four regions during the next 20 years shown in Figure 8.4. The frequency of the form continues to be low in affirmative statements (below 20 instances per 10,000 words) throughout the century, and do never becomes grammaticalized the way it does in negative and interrogative clauses (Nurmi 1999a: 166).
Figure 8.4. Periphrastic do in affirmative statements. Regional distribution of do per 10,000 words. CEEC 1998 (based on Nurmi 1999a: 177).
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