Karolina Rudnicka

The Statistics of Obsolescence: Case Studies from Late Modern English Grammar

ErstbetreuerProf. Dr. Dr. h. c. Christian Mair

The main goal of my project is to analyze and describe processes of grammatical obsolescence and decline in the recent history of English (ca. 1750 to the present) in the framework of usage-based approach. Going beyond the straightforward loss of constructions or fossilization, I study scenarios in which decrease in token frequency leads to reconfigurations in the periphery of the grammatical system. In addition to insights on the history of the specific phenomena of grammatical obsolescence investigated in my study, I hope to draw general conclusions potentially transferable to further cases of obsolescence in the history of English, and possibly other languages. The results of my study may be interesting from the perspective of cognitive science, as it would be worthwhile to understand the conditions under which structures are eliminated from the linguistic system at a given point in its development.

The methodology is based on a combination of statistical analyses of data extracted from different language corpora.

DisziplinEnglish Studies
Schlüsselbegriffefrequency effects, usage-based models, language change, grammatical obsolescence