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English Historical Sociolinguistics

Robert McColl Millar

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Sociolinguistics provides a powerful instrument by which we can interpret the contemporary and near-contemporary use of language in relation to the society in which speakers live. Almost since the beginning of the discipline, however, attempts have been made to extrapolate backwards and interpret past linguistic change sociolinguistically. Some of these findings have influenced the discussion of the history of the English language as portrayed in the many textbooks for undergraduate courses. A consistent application of sociolinguistic theory and findings has rarely been attempted, however, despite the specialist literature which demonstrates this connection at specific points in the language's development.

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About the Author

Robert McColl Millar is Reader in Linguistics in the School of Language & Literature at the University of Aberdeen. His books include Northern and Insular Scots (2007), Authority and Identity. A Sociolinguistic History of Europe before the Modern Age (2010) and English Historical Sociolinguistics (2012).

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