Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Towards Regularisation: Morphological Spelling in Several Editions of the Kalender of Shepherdes

Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Towards Regularisation: Morphological Spelling in Several Editions of the Kalender of Shepherdes

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This corpus-based study focuses on the graphemic realisations of several derivational suffixes in thirteen editions of the Kalender of Shepherdes, an early modern almanac published between 1506 and 1656. Morphological spelling, that is, the consistent representation of particular morphemes, is considered to be one of the most important criteria in research on the orthographic standardisation in English. The analysis of the graphomorphemic information available in the documents under consideration indicates that particular printing houses applied different combinations of spelling rules with regard to the variants of suffixes and were characterised by varying levels of consistency in the use of these graphemic representations. The new spelling variants of "the suffixes were adopted partly as the printers' own regularisation policy, and partly under the influence of normative writings.

Keywords: orthography, regularisation of spelling, standardisation, morphological spelling, suffixes, orthographic variation, early printers, orthoepists, spelling reformers, Early Modern English

1. Introduction

This article discusses the language of early printers, and particularly the interrelations between graphemics and morphology in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century editions of the Kalender of Shepherdes (1) (henceforth Kalender or KS), a comprehensive compendium of prose and verse texts of various lengths and on a variety of subjects, e.g. astronomy, medicine, and religion. The diversity of genres, text types, and topics covered in this almanac helps avoid the risk of bias in the research findings. The analysis focuses on the graphemic realisations of selected derivational suffixes over the 150 years which elapsed between the first and the last edition of the KS. Morphological spelling has been chosen as the basis for this study because it is considered to be one of the most important criteria in research on the orthographic standardisation in English, beside the indication of vowel length, the orthographic distinction between homophones and the establishment of etymological spelling (Salmon 1999: 21). This study makes up part of a larger post-doctoral project (2) which aims at tracing and examining the graphemic systems of early modern London printers in the period 1506-1656 on the basis of thirteen editions of the KS, which takes into consideration all the variables mentioned above.

The comparative analysis that follows is corpus-based and aims at examining the grapho-morphemic consistency and variation in the selected texts as well as evaluating the importance of extra-linguistic motivation for the changes arising from the contemporary spelling reformers, phoneticians and grammarians. A detailed graphemic analysis of the KS editions reveals that their printers were characterised by different degrees of both consistency and subjection to the normative influence. The analysed corpus comprises over 0.9 million words. It is an electronically searchable database which includes transcriptions of thirteen editions of the almanac, prepared by the present author on the basis of facsimiles available at Early English Books Online (3) (henceforth EEBO). The Appendix presents the most important information concerning each analysed edition, (4) including the year of publication, the sigil (5) used in this study to identify each edition, the printer's name, the catalogue number, and the word count. The corpus comprises only those editions of the KS which are available in EEBO, thus six of nineteen English editions listed in STC are not included.

Each of the original documents under consideration is larger, in some cases by up to 5%. However, for the purposes of the present study, Latin passages as well as diagrams and charts (such as the perpetual calendar and the tables with the names of saints) have not been transcribed, as they are irrelevant to the study of morphological spelling in English. …

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