A Brief Overview of 19th Century English

Google Books Ngram Viewer
1. Commonly called an Ngram
2. Statistical analysis of text or speech
3. Finds n(a number) of a certain item in  text (examples of n: phonemes, prefixes,  phrases, or letters)
Google Books Ngram Viewer
analyzed text (‘corpus’): books scanned  by Google
default time period: 1800 to 2000 output: graph representing use of  searched item in books through time (used in this presentation to show general  trends of increase or decrease of usage  from the 19th c.)

Historical Background (Lohr)

Old English (Anglo-Saxon): 5th ­-11th centuries
Since c. 450 CE, West Germanic peoples  settle southern Britain

Middle English: 11th-15th centuries Since around and following the 1066 CE Norman invasion of Britain

Modern English: 16th century-present Since around the time of Shakespeare Early Modern English: 16th-18th centuries Present Day English: 19th century-present

Historical Background (Spielvogel)

1) Industrial Revolution: primarily 18th­ 19th centuries

2) Technological Development
1. rapid urbanization, improved transportation
2. new machinery

3) Economic Prosperity
1. expedited trade, accessible commodities
2. new products

4) Growing Democratization
1. increased liberties, expanded representation
2. focus on the individual

5)Scientific Discovery
1. new disciplines, deepened understandings
2. development of sociology (science of society)

Geographic Distribution in the 19th Century

English throughout the British Empire (select locations)
British Isles: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Africa: Egypt, Lagos (Nigeria), Cape Colony (South Africa)
Asia: Burma, Hong Kong, India, Malacca,  Singapore
Australia and New Zealand
North America: Canada
South America, Caribbean: Anguilla, British Guiana, Jamaica
The United States
Preservation of earlier dialects
Development of regional varieties

Lexical Developments in the 19th Century  (Courtney)

New words in the English language
1.changes in society
2.need for new ways to express ideas and describe objects and ideas
New words:
Transportation, Inventions, Food,  Leisure, Fashion, Linguistics, Medicine,  Chemistry, Psychology

Grammatical Evolution in the 19th Century  (Mugglestone)

  1. increased use of lesser-used form
  2. decreased use of commonly-used forms
  3. grammatical changes often seen as  degradation of the English language (and  sometimes society), changes seen as  improper use of the English language

Increased use of the Progressive Passive
Increased usage (19th c.): The ship is being built at  Aberdeen.
present progressive passive (present continuous passive)
examples (current usage): first person singular: am + being + past participle I am being pranked.

Decreased use of subjunctive after ‘if’ or ‘unless’
Present Subjunctive: be – ‘unless I be’
Past Subjunctive: were – ‘if I were’
Replaced with ‘am’ or ‘was’ – if I was’; / ‘unless I am’
Prospero: Unless I be relieved by prayer
Current Usage: Subjunctive Mood (Conrad)
verb form, used for unreal, untrue, or  hypothetical statements
1. To express hopes/wishes: I wish I weren’t so shy.
2. To express hypothetical situations: If I were taller, I could dunk a basketball.
3. To express something that is untrue or unreal: He acts as if he were the one in charge.
Current Usage: Was (Conrad)
used for statements of fact example Last night, I was watching TV until midnight.

Increased use of the split infinitive
infinitive: to + uninflected verb form example: to walk, to inflect, to split
split infinitive: when an adverb or adverbial  phrase appears between the to and the verb example:, to boldly go, to casually walk, to  gently push
Current Usage: Split Infinitives (Grammarist)
now common in writing of all kinds; not a mistake when used appropriately
1. Avoid split infinitives when moving the adverb to  the end of a phrase doesn’t cause confusion or change the sentence’s meaning. example: split infinitive: He urged me to casually walk  up and say hello. (unnecessary) infinitive: He urged me to walk up casually  and say hello.
2. Split infinitives when the adverb either needs  emphasis or wouldn’t work anywhere else in the  sentence.
example: They’re expected to gradually come down in  price to about $50 to $75 each.

Important Literature in the 19th Century

British Literature
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice(1813)
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre(1847)
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland &  Through the Looking-Glass(1865)
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities(1859), Great  Expectations(1860)
Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South(1854)

American Literature
James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans (1826)
Emily Dickinson, Complete Poems(1890)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance(1841)
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter(1850)
Herman Melville, Moby Dick(1851)

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of The House of Usher” (1839)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin(1852)
Henry David Thoreau, Walden(1854) Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn(1885)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha(1855)
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass: The Deathbed Edition(1892)

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