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New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Book Information


Title: The Familiar Letter in Early Modern English
Subtitle: A pragmatic approach
Written By: Susan M. Fitzmaurice
Series Title: Pragmatics & Beyond New Series

This research monograph examines familiar letters in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English to provide a pragmatic reading of the meanings that writers make and readers infer. The first part of the book presents a method of analyzing historical texts. The second part seeks to validate this method through case studies that illuminate how modern pragmatic theory may be applied to distant speech communities in both history and culture in order to reveal how speakers understand one another and how they exploit intended and unintended meanings for their own communicative ends. The analysis demonstrates the application of pragmatic theory (including speech act theory, deixis, politeness, implicature, and relevance theory) to the study of historical, literary and fictional letters from extended correspondences, producing an historically informed, richly situated account of the meanings and interpretations of those letters that a close reading affords.
This book will be of interest to scholars of the history of the English language, historical pragmatics, discourse analysis, as well as to social and cultural historians, and literary critics.

Table of Contents

The pragmatics of epistolary conversation
Context and the linguistic construction of epistolary worlds
Making and reading epistolary meaning
Sociable letters, acts of advice and medical counsel
Epistolary acts of seeking and dispensing patronage
Intersubjectivity and the writing of the epistolary interlocutor
Relevance and the consequences of unintended epistolary meaning
Making meaning in letters: a lesson in reading

Publication Year: 2002
Publisher: John Benjamins
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Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Subject Language(s): English
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 1588111865
ISBN-13: 9781588111869
Pages: viii, 263 pp.
Prices: U.S. $ 149