Early Modern English

Sean B. Palmer sean at miscoranda.com
Thu Jan 12 22:39:10 CET 2012

Doug Ewell wrote:

> Maybe 'shak1623' for the date of Shakespeare's First Folio would have
> to do, but this might imply wrongly that the subtag begins and ends with
> Shakespeare, and might also prove confusing

I don't understand why an enormous body of scholarship on the Early
Modern period in English would not be sufficient basis for a subtag,
whatever name best reflects the EModE concept. There are Early Modern
conferences, Early Modern research centres, Early Modern research
programmes and higher degrees. There are Early Modern books, and Early
Modern journals with Early Modern papers.

The Early Modern designator has been found particularly useful in
contemporary scholarship. The Tudor period is but a subset, the
Elizabethan age a subset of that. The EModE period best matches large
changes that we notice occurring in the language at the boundaries; a
qualitative span, to be sure, but one very widely used.

Would an Early Modern scholar really use the Table Alphabeticall or
Queen Anna's New World of Words as the sole ostensive definition of
any part of the language we study? I can imagine someone writing about
Spenser having to use en-shak1623 as a tag and boggling at the sheer
weight of indifference to established terminology. Does such a scheme
solve anything other than unsafe reuse? How do you justify that
against complete nomenclatural reinvention?

Sean B. Palmer

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