Early Modern English

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Sun Jan 15 23:46:32 CET 2012

Sean B. Palmer <sean at miscoranda dot com> wrote:

> Poor Thomas Middleton would probably not have written anything at all
> in en-tudor, there'll be no language subtag for him.

The subtag value 'tudor' wouldn't necessarily constrain the subtag to
refer only to English written during the Tudor period. This is like
people who claim the letters 'G' and 'B' constrain the region subtag
'GB' to refer only to the island of Great Britain, excluding Northern
Ireland somehow, which is possible only if one ignores the Description
field "United Kingdom".

Description fields are what identify the meaning of a subtag. That's why
I insist that the Description value here not be "Tudor English", but
rather "Early Modern English", possibly with a range of years appended,
as Old English and Middle English have. Of course we would want rough
consensus on the approximate years, while avoiding an endless and
pointless quest for perfect precision. I could also live with a Comments
field, but again, not something exhaustive that tries to capture all
knowledge about EModE usage and history.

Of course I would still prefer 'emode' or 'earlymod', but I understand
the objections. A less-than-ideal subtag is better than none. I don't
intend to be a Congressional Republican about this, blocking all action
if I can't get exactly the outcome I want.

Michael wrote, about using this subtag for Cornish as well:

> Well, for one thing, we actually *call* Tudor Cornish by that name.
> But this is slightly analogous to that variety of Pinyin which was
> applicable to Tibetan as well as Mandarin.

Pinyin is a transliteration concept, or philosophy, I guess one could
call it, that applies to both Mandarin and Tibetan, with some modest
differences in the way the concept is implemented. I'm not sure about
the analogy between English and Cornish. Did Tudor Cornish:

- lose a previous T-V pronoun distinction
- establish its alphabet and begin to codify spelling for the first time
- undergo other basic grammatical changes
- accelerate borrowings from other languages
- dramatically increase its own native (non-borrowed) vocabulary

> In the earlier Middle Cornish period certain features and lexical
> items were preserved that fell out of use, and in the Late Cornish
> period in addition to a loss of the traditional spelling a radical
> simplification of the verbal system can be seen.

I would guess that much is true of many modern languages, at some stage
in their development. Not many languages do evolve toward having more
complex spelling or grammar.

If this subtag applied to both English and Cornish, I would think a
Registry entry like:

Type: variant
Subtag: tudor
Description: Early Modern English (1500-1650) [?]
Description: Tudor Cornish (1500-1600) [?]
Added: 2012-xx-xx
Prefix: en
Prefix: kw

might be quite confusing to some users.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, Colorado, USA | RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14
www.ewellic.org | www.facebook.com/doug.ewell | @DougEwell ­ 

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