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Language living on the margins and beyond: A historical pragmatic study of marginal vocabulary use in eighteenth-century English

But, Roxanne (2015) Language living on the margins and beyond: A historical pragmatic study of marginal vocabulary use in eighteenth-century English. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis investigates the use of marginal vocabulary in eighteenth-century texts from a historical pragmatic perspective. The kind of marginal vocabulary that I will be specifically looking at is the special terminology associated with thieves, beggars and the low life known as ‘cant’. The aim of this study is to examine whether and how marginal vocabulary is used in eighteenth-century texts, and how this language evolves over the course of the century. Evidence of marginal vocabulary use in the eighteenth century was elicited from two electronic resources, namely the Old Bailey Proceedings Online (1674-1913) and the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and then qualitatively examined through historical discourse analysis. In the Old Bailey Proceedings Online, I searched for the term ‘cant’ and a number of other marginal terms to find evidence of the actual use of this kind of language in these courtroom texts. As for ECCO, I conducted a diagnostic search of a particular marginal term (‘cull’) to trace the extent to which this term and other marginal terms are used beyond the Old Bailey texts in other eighteenth-century genres. One of the key findings is that marginal vocabulary in the Old Bailey texts is associated with the criminal underclass and reproduced from real-life contexts for specific communicative purposes. Evidence of marginal vocabulary in the ECCO texts shows the expansion of these terms into the wider print culture of the eighteenth century. The marginal vocabulary terms have become ‘public’ words because they have moved beyond the highly specific criminal context. Some of these expressions are reproduced, metalinguistically commented upon and appropriated in a wide variety of popular texts, such as prose fiction, drama and life narratives. In the process, the terms may or may not lose their specialised meaning.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Marginal vocabulary, cant, slang, historical pragmatics, historical discourse analysis, history of English, Old Bailey Proceedings, ECCO, eighteenth century
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.684558
Depositing User: Miss Roxanne But
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2016 14:00
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:11
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12159

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