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Keeping in Touch. Familiar Letters across the English-speaking World.

Raymond Hickey

Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 289 pages.

This volume presents a number of chapters which look at informal vernacular letters written by settlers and inhabitants in the former colonies of Britain in the past few centuries, with a strong focus on those from the nineteenth century. By examining such documents features appear for varieties of English which do not necessarily appear in later sources or which are not attested with the same range or in the same set of grammatical contexts. Familiar letters, largely from emigrants, thus provide a valuable source of data in tracing the development of features in varieties of English, e.g. in the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, which are known from later attestations or which indeed are only documented in these letters; the 'discovery' effect is thus powerful in the examination of these documents.


1 Mining emigrant correspondence for linguistic insights
Raymond Hickey

Part I The language of emigrant correspondence

2 Wisconsin immigrant letters: German transfer to Wisconsin English
Angela Bagwell, Samantha Litty and Mike Olson

3 'I hope you will excuse my bad writing': shall vs. will in the 1830s Petworth Emigration to Canada Corpus (PECC)
Stefan Dollinger

4 Singular, plural, or collective? Grammatical flexibility and the definition of identity in the correspondence of nineteenth-century Scottish emigrants
Marina Dossena

Part II The language of the Irish emigrant experience

5 Homesickness, recollections and reunions: Topics and emotions in a corpus of female Irish emigrant correspondence
Emma Moreton and Chris Culy

6 'I have not time to say more at present' Negating lexical HAVE in Irish English
Kevin McCafferty

7 'Matt & Mrs Connor is with me now. They are only beginning to learn the work of the camp': Irish emigrants writing from Argentina
Carolina P. Amador-Moreno

8 Grammatical variation in nineteenth-century Irish Australian letters
Raymond Hickey