Grammar writing and provincial grammar printing in the eighteenth-century British Isles

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Abstract

This paper presents an account of the chronological and geographical distribution of grammars of the English language printed in the eighteenth century in the British Isles. The analysis, which views linguistic historiography in the light of the history of the book, is based on a new electronic database of eighteenth-century grammars and grammar writers (ECEG). The focus of this study lies in the dissemination of printing in the provinces - by country, county and town/city. Printers and their networks with grammar writers are explored, as are printing activities involving grammars written for schools. Furthermore, the cross-examination of the grammar writers' place of birth and the grammars' place of printing brings to light interesting patterns of geographical mobility, e.g. between Wales and the West Midlands. As grammars played a pivotal role in the codification of the English language, the findings of this paper offer new insights into market forces and the role of printers in the context of the eighteenth-century normative grammatical tradition. This study thus takes a unique perspective which it is hoped will open the path for future interdisciplinary investigations into the production of books in general, and of English grammars in particular. © 2012 The author.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-63
Number of pages29
JournalTransactions of the Philological Society
Volume110
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012