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Ye ^ you

Beginning with the subject forms of the second-person pronoun, we can see from Table 9.1. that the only variable that matters at the beginning of the change is register: you surfaces in family letters (factor weight 0.691), and register has the widest range at this point. When the change reaches the frequency of about 30 per cent, its regional bias emerges: the incoming form is promoted by the London region, including the Court (see 8.4.1.); region now has the widest range of the three independent variables. Women use you more than men and it continues to be more common in letters written to family or friends than to other recipients. In early mid-range (c. 40 per cent), gender slightly outstrips region in terms of both factor weight and range. The capital region is still ahead of East Anglia and the North. Register no longer plays a significant role in the process.

When the change is more or less complete (over 90 per cent) in 1560-99, it is no longer possible to compute factor weights for the female gender and the regions of London, East Anglia and the North because they have reached a 100-per-cent application rate and constitute 'knockout' factors. One particular combination of region, gender and register does, however, stand out as a conservative force. At this time when the subject form you has become invariable everywhere else, there are still some men at Court who occasionally continue to resort to ye.

Table 9.1. VARBRUL analysis of the ye/you variable (quota sample; de la Pole excluded), period mean showing the relative frequency of you. Min./Max. = minimum/maximum weight of a factor in a factor group, respectively

Period/mean (%)

Factor group

Min.

Max.

Range

Total N

  • 1500-19
  • 4%

Region

Gender

Register

.468 (N) .479 (w) .309 (nf)

.532 (S) .521 (m) .691 (ff)

.064

.042

.382

  • 223
  • 223
  • 223
  • 1520-39
  • 29%

Region

Gender

Register

.280 (N) .399 (m) .403 (nf)

.720 (S)

.601 (w) .597 (ff)

.440

.202

.194

  • 414
  • 414
  • 414
  • 1540-59
  • 38%

Region

Gender

Register

.343 (N) .340 (m) .453 (ff)

.657 (S)

.660 (w)

.547 (nf)

.314

.320

.094

  • 461
  • 461
  • 461

(Abbreviations: Region: S = London + Court; N = East Anglia + North; Gender: w = female, m = male; Register: ff = family and friends, nf = non-family)

Table 9.2. VARBRUL analysis of the -th/-s variable (quota sample), period mean showing the relative frequency of -s. Min./Max. = minimum/maximum weight of a factor in a factor group, respectively

Period/mean (%)

Factor group

Min.

Max.

Range

Total N

  • 1540-79
  • 8%

Region

Gender

Register

.310 (E) .384 (m) .473 (ff)

.788 (N)

.616 (w) .527 (nf)

.478

.232

.054

  • 741
  • 741
  • 741
  • 1580-1619
  • 42%

Region

Gender

Register

.155 (E) .392 (m) .466 (nf)

.767 (L)

.608 (w) .534 (ff)

.612

.216

.068

  • 952
  • 952
  • 952
  • 1620-59
  • 74%

Region

Gender

Register

.329 (E) .469 (m) .453 (nf)

.688 (C)

.531 (w) .547 (ff)

.314

.062

.094

  • 904
  • 904
  • 904
  • (Abbreviations: Region: L = London, C = Court, E = East Anglia, N = North; Gender: w = female, m = male; Register: ff = family and friends, nf = non-family)
  • -Th ^ -s

The 'second coming' of the third-person -s presents a much more even pattern of diffusion than the personal pronoun you. As shown by Table 9.2., region has a key role to play throughout the process. In its incipient phase from 1540 to 1579, the form is favoured by northern writers; -s is after all of northern origin. In mid-range (42 per cent) the process continues to be favoured by the North (0.616), but especially by London (0.767). When it is nearing completion at c. 75 per cent, the leading force proves to be not so much London as the Royal Court. Women systematically favour -s in the first two periods, but the gender difference is neutralized when the change approaches completion in the third. In comparison with the other two external variables, register differences play only a minor role in this change.

Mine, thine ^ my, thy

The rise of the possessive determiners my and thy in prevocalic contexts is another change where region emerges as a prime factor. As in the case of the third-person -s, the incoming forms are first favoured by northern writers in the early stages, but then promoted by the capital region, first by London when the change is in mid-range, and throughout the rest of the process by the Court (see Table 9.3.). From the mid-range on, women are also more frequent users of the incoming form than men.10

Register behaves less systematically: it switches from a slight non-family advantage in mid-range to increasing family advantage when the change progresses. This register switch is supported by previous research on a

Table 9.3. VARBRUL analysis of the mine, thine /my, thy variable (all data), period mean showing the relative frequency of my, thy. Min./Max. = minimum/ maximum weight of a factor in a factor group, respectively

Period/mean (%)

Factor group

Min.

Max.

Range

Total N

  • 1460-99
  • 22%

Region

Gender

Register

.181 (E) .484 (w) .427 (ff)

.873 (N)

.516 (m) .573 (nf)

.692

.032

.146

  • 229
  • 229
  • 229
  • 1520-59
  • 38%

Region

Gender

Register

.249 (C) .448 (m) .432 (ff)

.798 (L)

.552 (w) .568 (nf)

.549

.104

.136

  • 476
  • 476
  • 476
  • 1560-99
  • 70%

Region

Gender

Register

.367 (N) .422 (m) .457 (nf)

.588 (C)

.578 (w) .543 (ff)

.221

.156

.086

  • 361
  • 361
  • 361
  • 1600-1639
  • 92%

Region

Gender

Register

.308 (E) .324 (m) .392 (nf)

.693 (C)

.676 (w) .608 (ff)

.385

.352

.216

  • 635
  • 635
  • 635

(Abbreviations: Region: L = London, C = Court, E = East Anglia, N = North; Gender: w = female, m = male; Register: ff = family and friends, nf = non-family)

number of genres (Schendl 1997). It may also be reflected in the widening of the variation ranges of all the external variables in the last phase.

 
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