Historical Spoken Language Research: Corpus Perspectives, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Historical Spoken Language Research

Corpus Perspectives, 1st Edition

By Ivor Timmis


206 pages

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Hardback: 9781138938717
pub: 2017-08-24
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315390048
pub: 2017-08-15
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Historical Research on Spoken Language: Corpus Perspectives uses historical sources to discuss continuity and change in spoken language. Based on two corpora compiled using data from sociological and anthropological studies of Victorian London and 1930s Bolton, the author shows how historical spoken corpora can illuminate the nature of spoken language as well as the attitudes, values and behaviour of the specific community represented in a corpus. This book:

  • demonstrates how spoken language can be examined using material collected before the advent of sophisticated recording equipment and large-scale computerised corpora;
  • shows how other written sources such as diaries, letters and existing historical corpora can be used to analyse informal language use as far back as the fifteenth century;
  • provides insight into the longevity and resilience of many spoken language features which are often regarded as vernacular or non-standard;
  • comes with a companion website which gives full access to the Bolton Worktown Corpus.

Historical Research on Spoken Language is key reading for researchers and students working in relevant areas.


"This most important book introduces and describes in detail a computerized corpus of English texts representing twentieth-century working-class speech. It is also of great value as an introduction to the ways in which spoken English of earlier centuries can be approached and analyzed, and how the comparison between written and spoken language can help us to understand the long history of English."

Matti Rissanen, University of Helsinki, Finland

"[…] the author's enthusiasm for his material is infectious […] this is a highly readable, pioneering voyage into the spoken vernacular of the period 1852 to 1940, a demonstration of what is methodically possible, and a celebration of uniquely rich collections of language material."

Jonathan Culpeper, Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics 2018; 4(2): 281–284

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction – In search of spoken language in the past

Chapter 2 The Bolton/Worktown Corpus (BWC) and the Mayhew Corpus (MC)

Chapter 3 Windows on Society: pronouns and vague category markers

Chapter 4 Evaluation, Affect and Intensity

Chapter 5: Dialect and identity

Chapter 6 Sources and resources for historical spoken language research: beyond the MC and the BWC

Chapter 7 Vernacular grammar: longevity and obsolescence

Chapter 8 Vernacular continuity

Chapter 9 Reflections

About the Author

Ivor Timmis is Reader in English Language Teaching at Leeds Beckett University, UK

About the Series

Routledge Applied Corpus Linguistics

The Routledge Applied Corpus Linguistics Series is a series of monograph studies exhibiting cutting-edge research in the field of corpus linguistics.

Corpus linguistics is one of the most dynamic and rapidly developing areas of the field of language studies and it is difficult to see a future for empirical language research where results are not replicable by reference to corpus data. The aim of the series is to showcase the latest research in the field of applied language studies where corpus findings are at the forefront of the research.

This series was co-founded by Ronald Carter (1947-2018).

If you are interested in contributing to this series, please contact the Series Editors, Michael McCarthy and Anne O’Keeffe (Anne.OKeeffe@mic.ul.ie).


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Historical & Comparative
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Sociolinguistics