Article published in:Contact, Variation, and Change in the History of English
Edited by Simone E. Pfenninger, Olga Timofeeva, Anne-Christine Gardner, Alpo Honkapohja, Marianne Hundt and Daniel Schreier
[Studies in Language Companion Series 159] 2014
► pp. 163–186
Colloquialization and “decolloquialization”
Phrasal verbs in formal contexts, 1650–1990
Given that phrasal verbs are generally related to colloquial styles in Present-day English, the increase of these structures in a particular text type can be interpreted as a sign of colloquialization. Conversely, a decrease in their use may imply the development of more formal, literate features or a tendency towards “decolloqualization”. The present paper examines the development of phrasal verbs in the most formal genres of ARCHER (A Representative Corpus of English Historical Registers), namely medicine, science and sermons. Findings show that the number of phrasal verbs decreases in medicine and science over time, thus displaying a clear tendency towards more literate styles or “decolloquialization”; in sermons, however, phrasal verbs tend to increase. In the light of this evidence, this paper analyzes the differences in use within formal genres, and also compares the use of phrasal verbs between formal and informal genres over time.
Published online: 11 September 2014
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