Linguistic codification

Codification is, according to Milroy and Milroy (1985:27), one of the final stages in the standardisation process of language. For a detailed description of it, see Terttu’s and my chapter in A History of the English Language. Cambridge: CUP. 271-311, where we define it as "the laying down of rules for the language in grammars and dictionaries which would serve as handbooks for its speakers". This definition we made up for the purpose, as it is not to be found in the OED, nor is the concept defined in The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar (Chalker & Weiner, 1994). Not unexpectedly, as OED lists the term in legal use only from the early nineteenth century onwards, the word does not occur in ECCO (in any of its related forms), while a search for it in the ODNB produced 93 hits, 78 of which were related to a legal context. So I’d be interested to hear if anyone could tell more about the history of the word which would link it to language and its standardisation.

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