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Historical Dialectology in the Digital Age

Edited by Rhona Alcorn, Joanna Kopaczyk, Bettelou Los, Benjamin Molineaux

Hardback (Forthcoming)

A survey of applications of digital methods and tools to explore the linguistic features of regional varieties in historical texts

Drawing on the resources created by the Institute of Historical Dialectology at the University of Edinburgh (now the Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics), such as eLALME (the electronic version A Linguistic Atlas of Late Medieval English), LAEME (A Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English) and LAOS (A Linguistic Atlas of Older Scots), this volume illustrates how traditional methods of historical dialectology can benefit from new methods of data-collection to test out theoretical and empirical claims. In showcasing the results that these resources can yield in the digital age, the book highlights novel methods for presenting, mapping and analysing the quantitative data of historical dialects, and sets the research agenda for future work in this field.

Bringing together a range of distinguished researchers, the book sets out the key corpus-building strategies for working with regional manuscript data at different levels of linguistic analysis including syntax, morphology, phonetics and phonology. The chapters also show the ways in which the geographical spread of phonological, morphological and lexical features of a language can be used to improve our assessment of the geographical provenance of historical texts.

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Prelims: Editors; Contributors; List of figures and tables; Acknowledgements; Preface

Chapter 1: Historical dialectology then and now

Rhona Alcorn, Joanna Kopaczyk, Bettelou Los & Benjamin Molineaux (Edinburgh)

Part One: Creating and mining digital resources  

Chapter 2: A Parsed Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English

Robert Truswell, Rhona Alcorn, James Donaldson (Edinburgh) and Joel Wallenberg (Newcastle)

Chapter 3: Approaching Transition Scots from a micro-perspective; The Dumfermline Corpus, 1573-1723

Klaus Hofmann (Vienna)

Chapter 4: Early spelling evidence for Scots L-vocalisation: a corpus-based approach

Benjamin Molineaux, Joanna Kopaczyk, Warren Maguire, Rhona Alcorn, Bettelou Los and Vasilis Karaiskos (Edinburgh)

Part Two: Segmental histories  

Chapter 5: Old and Middle English spellings for OE hw-, with special reference to the ‘qu-’ type: In celebration of LAEME, (e)LALME, LAOS and CoNE

Margaret Laing and Roger Lass (Edinburgh)

Chapter 6: The development of Old English ǣ: The Middle English spelling evidence

Gjertrud Stenbrenden (Oslo)

Chapter 7: The development of Old English eo/ēo and the systematicity of Middle English spelling

Merja Stenroos (Stavanger)

Chapter 8: Examining the evidence for phonemic affricates: Middle English /t͡ʃ/, /d͡ʒ/ or [t-ʃ], [d-ʒ]?

Donka Minkova (UCLA)

Part Three: Placing features in context

Chapter 9: The predictability of {S} abbreviation in Older Scots manuscripts according to stem-final littera

Daisy Smith (Edinburgh)

Chapter 10: The date and dialect of The Court of Love

Ad Putter (Bristol)

Chapter 11: ‘He was a good hammer, was he’: Gender as marker for south-western dialects of English. A corpus-based study from a diachronic perspective.

Trinidad Guzmán-González (León)


About the Author

Rhona Alcorn is a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and CEO of Scots Language Dictionaries Ltd. She is also Deputy Director of the Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics. She was the first receipient of the Richard M. Hogg Prize, awarded annually by the International Society for the Linguistics of English since 2008.

Joanna Kopaczyk is Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Glasgow.

Bettelou Los is Forbes Professor of English Language at the University of Edinburgh. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 1986 and has since held teaching and research positions at the University of Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit, the University of Nijmegen, Radboud University Nijmegen and other colleges of high education. She participates in the research program The Diachrony of Complex Predicates in West Germanic, and has published several papers on diachronic syntax. Previous publications include The Handbook of the History of English, Blackwell, as co-editor (2006), and The Rise of the To-Infinitive, Oxford University Press (2005).

Benjamin Molineaux is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh.


This volume brings historical dialectology fully into the digital world. Not only do we learn about aspects of Medieval and Early modern varieties of English and Scots, but also the latest methods in corpus construction, tagging/annotation and analysis — making it essential reading for a wide array of historical linguists. With breadth yet no loss of coherence or depth, this volume can assure us that Angus McIntosh’s legacy is in good hands. 

- Professor Jonathan Culpeper, Lancaster University

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