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Conditional if-clauses in Late Middle English prose texts

Kikusawa, Namiko (2011) Conditional if-clauses in Late Middle English prose texts. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

In this thesis, I am going to conduct a corpus-based analysis of if-clauses in fifteenth-century texts. The fifteenth century has generally been considered a crucial period for the evolution of this construction: a turning-point where the subjunctive starts to lose ground, being replaced by substitutional expressions such as the indicative and modal auxiliaries. The aim of this thesis is to provide a detailed description of if-clauses in the fifteenth century from both form-based and semantic viewpoints. In the form-based approach, by classifying examples into three categories, subjunctive, indicative and modals, two points will be examined: variation across genres and sociolects. The present study will consider the effect of genres on the distributional tendency of the three verb types. The Paston Letters will be examined for the discussion of sociolects to see if the use of the subjunctive and its substitutes differs among individual authors of the letters. From the perspective of semantics, the present study will treat the relationship between form and function. Using the classification method suggested by Mitchell (1985), it will be discussed whether any type of conditionals associate with certain verb forms. This thesis will suggest three points: 1) Genres affect the ratio of the subjunctive in if-clauses in a complex way; 2) The occurrence of the subjunctive in letters is influenced by social backgrounds, especially genders; 3) The indicative, modals and the present subjunctive enable the speaker/writer to express various degrees of certainty.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: English, philology, the subjunctive, Middle English, mood, modality, 15th century, genre, sociolect, gender, semantics, conditional clauses, if-clauses, if, Paston Letters, corpus, corpus linguistics, ICAMET, hisoty of the English language
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Professor Jeremy
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Ms Namiko Kikusawa
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2637
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:58
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2637

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