Home Language & Literature Historical Sociolinguistics: Language Change in Tudor and Stuart England
Decline of multiple negation
The disappearance of multiple negation is another process favoured at the Royal Court. As shown by Figure 8.5, a sharp contrast arises between the Court and London proper around 1500, when the change is only incipient in London but already in mid-range at Court. As the variable is not of high frequency, our data do not allow detailed comparisons with the North and East Anglia. Figure 8.5 therefore plots the mean frequency of the variable in the rest of the country against London and the Court.
The Court advantage continues until the middle of the sixteenth century but, as the process advances rapidly, no significant regional differences can be detected from the second period onwards, when the change is past mid-range at Court. The last period to be measured a century later, 1660-81, shows that the change has practically run its course by that time.
Figure 8.5. Multiple vs. single negation. Regional distribution of single negation followed by nonassertive indefinites. CEEC 1998 and Supplement; percentages.
Figure 8.6. Relative pronoun the which vs. which. Regional distribution of which. CEEC 1998 and Supplement; percentages.
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