Language Change Essay

How does the following text demonstrate language change?

The text ‘a table alphabeticall’ is the front cover of a dictionary from the year 1604, with the purpose to inform a female reader on what the book is about.
The immediate thought when looking at the text is that it is very lexically dense for what we consider the front cover of a book to look like. The font used and the size of the font changes constantly within the text which could be a result of the printing press being a recent invention at the time and still being in working progress. The lexis is also set on the page centralised. There are, however, some similarities between the graphology on the text and the graphology we would see today. For instance, the use of capital letters at the beginning of names and places are still used. There is also evidence of a title and paragraphs used which is also used in today’s texts, as well as italics used to show lexis that is a foreign language.

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There are many differences between the lexis used in 1604 and the lexis used today. Firstly is the way in which vowels are used within a word. A table alphabeticall shows u’s and v’s being swapped round in words, a vowel replacing letters, for example ‘containing’ in 2012 differs to ‘conteyning’ in 1604 where ‘ai’ has been changed ‘e’. There are other examples in the text of the vowel e being added on to the end of many words. Greek becomes ‘Greeke’, door becomes ‘doore’. This is a big difference when compared to the lexis used in todays language.

The text contains connotations of a lady. By using capital letters in front of the words ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gentlewomen’ but not ‘unskillful persons’, the reader can immediately see the differences in social class at the time of the text and how a woman at a higher class could be seen as being of higher importance. Although this is somewhat different in todays language, the term ‘lady’ is still in use and its connotation is still seen to be used for someone of importance,.

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