Historical Sociolinguistics and Sociohistorical Linguistics

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Sociolinguistics and Language History

Project members: Terttu Nevalainen, Helena Raumolin-Brunberg, Arja Nurmi, Minna Palander-Collin, Minna Nevala

Our project investigates the extent to which modern sociolinguistic models and methods can be applied to historical linguistics. More particularly, we examine the extent to which historical linguists can make use of social and demographic history when analysing and interpreting linguistic variation and change over an extended period of time.

In order to grasp the external mechanisms of language change in progress, our project goes beyond texts and text types, and reconstructs the social backgrounds of the people who produced them. Our source material consists of personal letters written in England between c.1410 and 1680. These letters constitute The Corpus of Early English Correspondence (CEEC), a socially representative electronic corpus, which currently contains more than 6000 letters written by nearly 800 individuals (2.7 million running words). The corpus is currently being supplemented by new material and the timespan extended to the eighteenth century.


The web pages contain a more detailed description of the aims of the project and the corpus compiled. There is also an extensive list of publications and forthcoming publications by our project members, and brief descriptions of ongoing work of each scholar in the project.

The pages are regularly updated.

Arja Nurmi.