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The language of the sea: a corpus driven examination of the influence of Britain's maritime tradition on standard English

Isserlis, Simon Jonathon (2009)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

Britain’s maritime history has fundamentally affected the English language as spoken and written throughout the English speaking world. Maritime expressions (MEs), such as “taken aback” “batten down” and “log” are used on a daily basis, usually without any awareness on the part of the user of their source. This study examines the ideas of discourse communities as defined by Swales (1999) and Teubert (2005; 2007) and how discourse is negotiated by its members. The study aims to describe the process by which the highly specialised language of the very specific discourse community of mariners has influenced the wider English speaking discourse community. Following an assessment of the historical and social conditions that led to the prominence of MEs in English, the study looks at twenty examples, dividing them into “transparent” and “opaque” categories (Moon 1998). Using the Cobuild Bank of English Corpus, the MEs were analysed to reveal patterns about who uses them, why and where. The findings reveal distinctive differences of usage in the major English speaking counties of Britain, America, Canada and Australia, providing revealing insights into the processes of change, as particular expressions develop new meanings or adapt to accommodate the requirements of the modern discourse community.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Groom, Nicholas and Hunston, Susan (1953-)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Humanities, Centre for Corpus Research
Keywords:maritime language, maritime expressions, discourse communities, specialised discourse
Subjects:P Philology. Linguistics
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:283
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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