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Change in Contemporary English


  • Page extent: 370 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.66 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: n/a
  • Dewey version: n/a
  • LC Classification: P128.C68 L43 2009
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Corpora (Linguistics)
    • English language--Grammar
    • Computational linguistics

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521867221)

Based on the systematic analysis of large amounts of computer-readable text, this book shows how the English language has been changing in the recent past, often in unexpected and previously undocumented ways. The study is based on a group of matching corpora, known as the 'Brown family' of corpora, supplemented by a range of other corpus materials, both written and spoken, drawn mainly from the later twentieth century. Among the matters receiving particular attention are the influence of American English on British English, the role of the press, the 'colloquialization' of written English, and a wide range of grammatical topics, including the modal auxiliaries, progressive, subjunctive, passive, genitive and relative clauses. These subjects build an overall picture of how English grammar is changing, and the linguistic and social factors that are contributing to this process.

• Demonstrates a new and precise method of studying how language changes • Based on detailed corpus studies, bringing a plethora of results that have not been published before • Provides detailed information on how American English has influenced other varieties


1. Introduction: grammar-blindness in the recent history of English?; 2. Comparative corpus linguistics: the methodological basis of this book; 3. The subjunctive mood; 4. The modal auxiliaries; 5. The so-called semi-modals; 6. The progressive; 7. The passive voice; 8. Expanded predicates; 9. Non-finite clauses; 10. The noun phrase; 11. Linguistic and other determinants of change.


Review of the hardback: 'CCE suggests a number of issues that will no doubt inspire much research in the future, not only in English, but in any language for which electronic corpora are available over a fifty- to hundred-year period. … Regardless of any limitations of the corpora, the authors have developed a rigorous methodology for tagging, quantifying and analyzing electronic corpus materials, and revealing the multifactorial nature of change in use.' Elizabeth Closs Traugott, English Language and Linguistics

'… the studies collected in this volume are very valuable for the analysis of ongoing language change. The observations of these very detailed descriptions of language use and variation in the second half of the twentieth century across the two major written varieties of English will - together with, for example, the quantitative data and qualitative analyses of the Longman Grammar … certainly be a highly welcome basis for further investigations into ongoing grammar change in English.' Ursula Lenker, Anglia

'… this is a masterly book, no doubt the standard treatment of its subject for years to come. In an exemplary fashion it combines a meticulous attention to detail and empirically sound documentation with a fundamental interest in the nature and causes of syntactic change, and it provides far-reaching insights on both levels.' Edgar W. Schneider, English World-Wide

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