Yáñez-Bouza at International Conference on English Historical Linguistics

Posted on March 10, 2008 by

Colleague Nuria Yáñez-Bouza will represent the department at the 15th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics in Munich from 24 to 30 August 2008 with a paper (coauthored with María Esther Rodríguez-Gil, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.) entitled ‘A disparate band of entrepreneurs’? What the ECEG-database can tell us about eighteenth-century grammarians.’ Stay tuned for the details of the conference here and checkout Nuria’s abstract below the fold.

[In addition to hearing about the details of this exciting-sounding paper, Manchet writers are particularly keen on learning if coauthorship with a colleague from the Canary Islands entails University-funded trips… 🙂 ]

A disparate band of entrepreneurs’? What the ECEG-database can tell us about eighteenth-century grammarians

María Esther Rodríguez-Gil
Nuria Yáñez-Bouza
University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria /
University of Manchester (UK)
UNED- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain)


Eighteenth-century grammarians have been described as ‘a disparate band of independent entrepreneurs’ who took upon themselves the task of codifying the English language (Finegan 1998:536). Research in the literature has been primarily focused on the product of those ‘entrepreneurs’, the eighteenth-century grammars in which the standard of English was established (e.g. Michael 1970, Sundby et al. 1991, Görlach 2001). Studies on individual grammarians are scarce and yet very revealing in themselves (e.g. Rodríguez-Gil on Ann Fisher, Tieken-Boon van Ostade on Robert Lowth and Lindley Murray, the VICI-project). With a view to providing scholars with a bank of information for the study of the eighteenth-century grammatical tradition at both macro- and micro-level, we have compiled an electronic database of eighteenth-century English grammars (ECEG) which contains bibliographic details about 344 grammars as well as biographic details about the entrepreneurs behind those grammars (Rodríguez-Gil & Yáñez-Bouza 2007).

In this paper, our attention will be drawn to the latter. By means of a close examination of the authors in the ECEG-database – their origin, gender, age,
occupation and level of education – we aim to unearth the backstage of the codifiers of the English language: who they were and whether a common pattern amongst them can be identified. In this respect, our investigation will path the way for further analysis of social networks and communities of practice (e.g. Fitzmaurice 2000; Watts 1999). In addition, attention will be paid as well to the place of publication of the grammars. Our findings will thus shed light on the development of the publishing market of grammar books in the course of the eighteenth century (e.g. Tieken-Boon van Ostade 2008).


Finegan, Edward. 1998. English Grammar and Usage. In Suzanne Romaine (ed.), The Cambridge History of the English Language, 1776-1997. Vol. IV. Cambridge: CUP, 536- 588.

Fitzmaurice, Susan. 2000. The Spectator, the Politics of Social Networks, and Language Standardisation in Eighteenth-Century England. In Laura Wright (ed.), The Development of Standard English, 1300-1800: Theories, Descriptions, Conflicts. Cambridge: CUP, 195-218.

Görlach, Manfred. 2001. Eighteenth-Century English. Heidelberg: C. Winter. Michael, Ian. 1970. English Grammatical Categories and the Tradition to 1800.   Cambridge: CUP.

Rodríguez-Gil, María Esther. 2002. Teaching English Grammar in the Eighteenth Century: Ann Fisher. Universidad de Las Palmas: PhD thesis.

Rodríguez-Gil, María Esther & Nuria Yanez-Bouza. 2007. A Bibliographic Approach to the Study of Eighteenth-Century English Grammars. Paper presented at the Third International Conference on Late Modern English (LMEC3), Leiden, 30/31 August – 1 September 2007