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The Question of the 'Standardisation' of Written English in the Fifteenth Century

Takeda, Reiko (2001) The Question of the 'Standardisation' of Written English in the Fifteenth Century. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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The present thesis attempts to reconsider the widely held assumption found in the histories of the English language, namely, that the English Chancery was the source and the cause of the standardisation of the English language which occurred in the fifteenth century. The thesis considers how the standardisation of the English language is presently described in a number of textbooks. It questions the role of the late medieval English Chancery as an agent of standardisation, and the status of the so-called 'Chancery English' as the early standardised form of English. The account of the standardisation of the English language is confusing and remains unsatisfactory. The thesis identifies problems associated with current explanations regarding the 'emergence' of Standard English in the fifteenth century, and discusses some reasons why some inconsistencies have been overlooked. Problems arise when researchers try to judge the changes evident in fifteenth-century English by employing modem values and ideas on standardisation which do not apply to late medieval English. This anachronistic practice is hazardous, since there is little consensus over the issue of Standard English even in the present -day context and Standard English is a matter of fierce controversy. The modem concept of standardisation and Standard English are examined and the change in the written English of the fifteenth century is reconsidered in the light of the contemporary understanding of a standard language. It is further suggested that the changes found in written English of the fifteenth century could be more accurately described by taking into account the effects of dialect contact. Some linguistic features of written texts from Yorkshire and East Anglia are considered from the contact-based approach rather than seeing the changes as manifestations of enforced 'standardisation'.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.536400
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2011 12:44
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:14
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1644

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