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Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum

A reconstruction of a schoolroom of the early eighteenth century can be seen at the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire. For more information see the following website
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Compulsory grammar lessons in English public school

The Education Guardian reports that the head of Brighton College, Richard Cairns, has introduced compulsory grammar lessons in his school as he had noticed the lack of grounding in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Most interestingly, the task of teaching the basics of grammar to the pupils has been allocated to classics rather than English teachers. Follow the link to read the article:,,1891979,00.html

Correspondence between Papa and Charley

Googling the net for Conyers Middleton and John Dryden, I happened to find an edition of correspondence between a father and a son in eighteenth-century America. The links to Middleton and Dryden are minimal, but this is an interesting find. It is titled Dear Papa, Dear Charley. The Peregrinations of a Revolutionary Aristocrat, as Told by Charles Carroll of Carrollton and His Father, Charles Carroll of Annapolis, with Sundry Observations on Bastardy, Child-Rearing, Romance, Matrimony, Commerce, Tobacco, Slavery, and the Politics of Revolutionary America. The editors are Ronald Hoffman, Sally D. Mason, and Eleanor S. Darcy, and it has been published already in 2001 by the University of North Carolina Press; see this site for more information. A selection of letters and some information of the Carrolls can be found here.

To give an example of the edited letters, here is an extract of Elizabeth Carroll’s letter to her son in 1758. "You are always at heart my dear Charly & I am never tired asking yr Papa questions about you some times to tease, he answers me that you are a good for no thing Ugly little fellow, but when he Speaks his Real Sentiments of you there is not any thing can give me greater Comfort." 

This seems to be a good-quality edition even by the standards of picky linguists; e.g. ampersands and abbreviations have been retained (though superscripts, if there are any, probably haven’t), and changes in the layout, different hands, and even self-corrections are commented upon in footnotes. See, for example, the son’s letter of 1774: the footnote to the sentence ‘No persons[1] are admitted’ provides the information that ‘CCC [the writer] first wrote and then struck out "strangers."


Monthly Lunch Meetings update

As a reminder, our second monthly lunch meeting will take place the 28th of April, when Anni Sairio will give a paper on ‘A social network of eighteenth-century England: linguistic changes and influences in the Bluestocking correspondence’. This meeting will be held from 12 to 1, in 1168-005.

Our third speaker will be Pepijn Hendriks. He’ll give a paper on the 19th of May, titled ‘Ja bhogu molitzu da pristoino vtzitzu – Ich wÿll godtt bidden vnd flitigen lehren: On research into the language of Russian conversation manuals from the 16th and 17th centuries’. He introduces his topic as follows:

"Historical sources of spoken Russian from the 16th and 17th centuries are few and far between. The youngest birch bark texts, the best-known source for information on the Russian vernacular, date from the 15th century only. To bridge the gap between these older texts and more recent sources – such as contemporary dialects – linguists are forced to resort mainly to foreign, non-native sources.

An example of such sources are so-called conversation manuals (razgovorniki), in which Western visitors to Russia – mostly merchants – purportedly recorded the language they heard around them. Within the scope of this lunch meeting, I would like to familiarise the audience with the genre of bilingual Russian conversation manuals.

I will address and illustrate some of the problems which face the linguistically oriented researcher on the basis of the conversation manual of Tönnies Fenne (Pskov, 1607). A pivotal role is played by the questions of whether the language as written down by a foreigner can be trusted, and of the extent to which other, related conversation manuals can shed light on this issue."

Click here for an electronic text edition of Tönnies Fenne’s Low German manual of spoken Russian, pskov 1607, that Pepijn worked on. to The meeting will be held from 12 to 1, in 1168-005.

Marian Klamer will give a paper on the 23rd of June, titled ‘Minority language research in Eastern Indonesia: practical and political issues’. Below is an abstract of the paper:

"In this talk I would like to introduce colleagues whose work focuses on well-documented and well-studied languages such as English or Dutch to a part of the linguistic world where, in an area the size of a Dutch province, about 15-20 languages are spoken, which have not yet been written down, which have no established orthography or any historical documentation, no descriptive or pedagogical grammar, and no dictionary. I will zoom in on the linguistic situation of Alor and Pantar, two small remote islands in eastern Indonesia, where we are currently carrying out the "Alor And Pantar Project" (AAPP). This project documents and analyses six minority languages that are spoken by communities of 3000-15000 speakers.

I will first discuss some of the non-linguistic issues that a research project like this is confronted with, including the following:
(i) As our research concerns oral (non-written) languages, what are the implications for the community when we write them down: will they benefit from this, what are potential problems or disadvantages that arise as a result?
(ii) How do we develop orthographies for these languages?
(iii) How do we compile texts for a corpus, how do we check word lists/dictionaries with native speakers? What are the practical problems encountered?

I will also say a few words about the history of Indonesian as a national language of Indonesia, and issues regarding the language planning policy of the national government. Which effects did the policy have on endangered minority languages such as those spoken on Alor and Pantar? What is the current role of these languages in the local societies, in the local media, and in the local educational system?

For more information regarding the AAPP project, see"

The meeting will be held from 12 to 1 as usual, in 1168-006. All those interested are invited to attend!

Robert Lowth in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Now that the DNB is available online, its electronic format allows us to perform searches that would previously have been unthinkable; the experience is similar to when the OED was first published on CD-Rom, in 1989. My full-text search for “Lowth” Read more »

deadline PhD positions

Please note that the deadline for applications for the two vacant PhD positions in our project is a week from today. For more information, see our website or contact Ingrid Tieken.

New feature

It is now possible for visitors of our web log to also post entries and not only comment on existing entries. In order to do that you can email us your suggestions for new topics and we will put them on the weblog. You can find our email address in the section contact information on the left.

Pictures of excursion to ‘de Ammoniet’

On this website you can find some of the pictures that were taken during the excursion to ‘de Ammoniet’ with some of our guests from the workshop ‘Grammars, Grammarians and Grammar Writing’.

Seasonal Joke

What do you call Santa’s helpers?


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