Lowth’s grammar in electronic form?

Just now, I received a query from Arthur Molitierno about whether there is an electronic version of Lowth’s grammar. I only know of the CD Rom called Landmarks in English Grammar: The Eighteenth Century, published by ULCL Survey of English Usage. But the CD-Rom unfortunately only contains scans which are not searchable electronically. There is, by the way, a review of the CD-Rom in HSL/SHL.

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  1. David A Reibel

    The question is not whether there is an electronic version of Lowth’s A Short Introduction to English Grammar but which edition should be used.
    Alston’s English Linguistics 1600-1800 reprints the first edition, his uniform practice.
    My edition (Robert Lowth: The Major Works 1995) reprints the Third Edition and a pirated one of 1791, not the best choices, but better than nothing.
    The 1762 first edition is not the definitive text.
    Starting with the Second Edition, Corrected, Lowth introduced new additional different examples of imprimproper usage, and new bits of text, including the statement that Two Negatives, in English, destroy one another, Second Edition, not in 1762, which is frequently given as the reference for this, showing that the quoters have not looked into the grammar very carefully.
    Incidentally, Lowth did not discover or invent this rule, but merely stated it as a fact of then-current practice in Standard English.
    It is a rule of logic: duplex negatio affirmat, and is found in all Western and Eastern (Sanskrit) systems of logic, even where the language in question has double negation.
    Wittgenstein points out (Philosophische Grammatik / Philosophical Grammar passim) that it is not a rule of logic at all but the consequence of the interaction of symbols such as p proposition, the negation sign (tilde), implies (sideways U) and brackets ().
    The multiple negative had disappeared almost spontaneously by 1600, and many of the examples adduced as instances of its survival are not analyzed at all, for if they were, they would show that they are special cases where the two negatives are not in the same minimal clause and therefore cannot interact.
    So before any electronic version is published, the editions must be collated to see at which point, probably eary on, Lowth ceased adding to his Grammar.
    David A Reibel

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