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Language and Mobility of Late Modern English Paupers

Anne-Christine Gardner, Anita Auer, Mark Iten

Pages 45 - 70



This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0.

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This article explores the relationship between the language of paupers and patterns of mobility in Late Modern England. Based on samples from a pauper letter corpus (c. 1795-1834), the study investigates (a) reasons for paupers to migrate, and (b) to what extent speech and dialect reflections in pauper letters allow us to determine whether the writers’ home parishes can also shed light on their dialect origins. To illustrate these different aspects, data from Dorset and Cumberland are presented and viewed in the context of different types of historical data as well as contemporary sources. The two case studies lead to the conclusion that we cannot assume that the parish of legal settlement is also the place where the writer’s dialect was acquired. Nevertheless, if non-standard and dialect features are contained in the pauper letters, they can provide clues about the wider dialect area from which the writers of the letters originate.

Keywords: pauper letters; mobility; dialects; Dorset; Cumberland


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