Lyda Fens-de Zeeuw

Position:
  • PhD student
Expertise:
  • Sociolinguistics, Historical Sociolinguistics




Within the wider context of the research project The Codifiers and the English language, the basic question for Murray is how his own language and that of his correspondents relates to that in his grammar, particularly with respect to the disputed points in Lowth’s grammar. Murray’s grammar was, by his own admission, derivative, and one of his main sources had been Lowth. But he had also borrowed from Priestley, whose approach to grammar is generally considered to be descriptive rather than prescriptive, as in Lowth’s case (Baugh and Cable, 2002). How are his sources’ different approaches to grammar reflected in Murray’s grammar? Murray, moreover, was a Quaker. The language of Quakers differed in a number of respects from that of Standard English at the time. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century still, Quakers eschewed terms expressing politeness, continuing to use the singular pronoun thou/thee though long since out of use. In his letters, for instance, Murray does not use the conventional epistolary formulas. In addition, he appears to have adopted various strategies to avoid the pronoun you. In the first edition of his English Grammar (1795) he still prescribes the verbal paradigm with the old singular pronoun. Murray’s grammar was far more popular than Lowth’s or any other grammar published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Alston (1965:92–96) lists 65 numbered editions along with numerous pirated editions, published in Britain and America as well as in other countries, down to the early 1870s. The grammar was translated into French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, Russian and Japanese, and in 1797 an abridgement came out which was even more popular (at least 133 editions until 1877). Murray has been called the “father of English grammar” (??: 1923), and he must have had an enormous influence on the language of speakers of English as a first and as a second language. The question is how much of this influence has any roots in his personal usage or in that of his sources. But for a few exceptions, Murray’s letters have never been published, let alone studied for their language. At this moment I have located, duplicated and transcribed more than 250 autograph letters. Besides my research for the VICI Codifiers project, I received a guest scholarship in February 2008 at the Lexical Analysis Centre of the University of Toronto in Canada. My main occupation entails the implementation of a seventeenth-century English-Dutch dictionary in the electronic database Lexicons of Early Middle English, "a historical database of monolingual, bilingual, and polyglot dictionaries, lexical encyclopedias, hard-word glossaries, spelling lists, and lexically-valuable treatises surviving in print or manuscript from the Tudor, Stuart, Caroline, Commonwealth, and Restoration periods". Some of my findings will be included in a paper entitled "Where Two Text Corpora Meet: The Implementation of Hexham's (1647) A Copious English and Netherduytch Dictionarie (E-D) into (2006-) Lexicons of Early Modern English (LEME)" and co-authored by Ian Lancashire.  

Publications

  • (2009) Fens-de Zeeuw, Lyda, "Plain Speech in Lindley Murray's letters: peculiar or polite?" In Tieken-Boon van Ostade and van der Wurff (eds.), Current Issues in Late Modern English. Bern: Peter Lang. 391-408.
  • (2008) Fens-de Zeeuw, Lyda, "The Letter-Writing Manual in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: From Polite to Practical." In Marina Dossena and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (eds.), Studies in Late Modern English Correspondence: Methodology and Data. Bern: Peter Lang. 163-92.  

Conference Papers

  • 3 February 2007: "Lindley Murray's Quaker Speak: a singular mode of language". Paper presented at the Taalkunde in Nederland-dag 2007, Utrecht.
  • 7 June 2007: “Lindley Murray’s Quaker Speak: a singular mode of language”.
    Paper presented at the 13th National Conference on the History of the English Language, held at the University of Salento, Lecce, Italy.
  • 30 August 2007: “Plain speech in Lindley Murray’s letters: peculiar or polite?”
    Paper presented at the 3rd Late Modern English Conference, held at the University of Leiden.
  • 24-31 August 2008: "1st, 2nd, and 3rd person: precept vs. practice in Lindley Murray's letters", presented at the 15th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Munich, Germany.
  • 29 May 2009: "Where Two Text Corpora Meet: The Implementation of Hexham's (1647) A Copious English and Netherduytch Dictionarie (E-D) into (2006-) Lexicons of Early Modern English (LEME)", paper presented at Monthly Lunch Meeting as part of the VICI Codifiers Project, University of Leiden.
  • 17-19 August 2009: "Accent on Arrival: prescribing the communicability of professional immigrants in Canadian labour markets". Paper presented at Prescriptivsm and Patriotism, Language Norms and Identities, from Nationalism to Globalization conference, held at New College, University of Toronto, Canada.
 

Other

Winner of "Best Student Presentation" with Kori Allan at Prescriptivism and Patriotism, Language Norms and Identities, from Nationalism to Globalization conference. 17-19 August 2009 at New College, University of Toronto, Canada. Paper presented: "Accent on Arrival: prescribing the communicability of professional immigrants in Canadian labour markets".

Last Modified: 31-01-2013