Fachbereich 7

Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft

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Early Modern English
DozentIn:Dr. phil. Meike Pentrel, M.A.
Veranstaltungstyp:Seminar (Offizielle Lehrveranstaltungen)
Semester:SoSe 2023
Zeiten:Di. 10:00 - 12:00 (wöchentlich)
Erster Termin:Dienstag, 11.04.2023 10:00 - 12:00, Ort: 41/111
Beschreibung:Hamlet: Alas poore Ghost.
Ghost: Pitty me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall vnfold.
Hamlet: Speake, I am bound to heare.
Ghost: So art thou to reuenge, when thou shalt heare.

(Hamlet, I.4.86-90 from the First Folio edition 1623)

Unlike Middle English sources, texts from the Early Modern English period (c. 1500 - 1750) seem fairly intelligible to modern readers. Yet even this short passage from one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays exhibits many linguistic phenomena that would be considered incorrect or at least very archaic in Modern English. There are features on all linguistic levels that strike modern readers as odd: the orthography of “poore” or “vnfold”, the choice of the pronouns “thou” and “thy”, the auxiliary forms “art” and “shalt”, as well as the syntactic structure “pitty me not”.

During the Early Modern period, the English language underwent a series of significant linguistic changes. In seminar, we will look at the main changes that happened in the transition from Middle English to Early Modern English. We will have a closer look at the phonetic and morphosyntactic changes that took place during the Early Modern period, which eventually resulted in the synchronic varieties of Standard British and American English that we know today. Studying this period will help to understand many linguistic properties of present-day English. Furthermore, we will discuss some mechanisms and trajectories of linguistic change in general.

Cours book: Nevalainen, Terttu. 2006. An Introduction to Early Modern English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
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