About

This is some text about the ECEP database.

Overview

The Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database (ECEP) is designed for the study of eighteenth-century English phonology, allowing users to investigate the social, regional and lexical distribution of phonological variants in eighteenth-century English. It serves as a source bank for quantitative and qualitative studies, thereby meeting the demands of the growing research community in historical phonology and dialectology in particular (e.g. Honeybone & Salmons 2015) and in Late Modern English in general (e.g. Mugglestone 2003, Hickey 2010).

The database incorporates data in the form of IPA transcriptions compiled from pronouncing dictionaries published in the second half of the eighteenth century. We have annotated approximately 1,400 individual example words used to illustrate John Wells' (1982) Standard Lexical Sets of vocalic variants as can be found in the selected sources, to which we have added five supplementary sets of consonantal variants (ca. 200 example words). The current version (2017) contains ca. 17,600 example words transcribed from eleven pronouncing dictionaries, ca. 1,600 for each, distributed across 27 lexical sets and 61 subsets.

Background

Many of the most salient social, regional and national variants in present-day English phonology, such as the North-South divide in the pronunciation of words like STRUT in British English, presence/ absence of /r/ in words like CAR, and the pronunciation of words like BATH with long or short vowels stem from innovations of the seventeenth/eighteenth centuries. The latter century in particular was also a time in which the social value of pronunciation became salient. Yet more attention has been paid to the grammar of this period than to its pronunciation, largely due to the greater access to written data provided by electronic corpora of Late Modern English texts. Beal (1999) and Jones (2006) draw on information provided by pronouncing dictionaries and other orthoepistic works for their accounts of Late Modern English pronunciation. However, these primary sources are not easily accessible due to the variety of notation systems used. This project involved the construction of a searchable database which allows users to investigate the social, regional and lexical distribution of phonological variants in eighteenth-century English.

Data Compilation

The data in ECEP has been systematically annotated and thematically grouped in three major categories.

(i) Phonology-related data. Each pronouncing dictionary has been examined for illustrative examples of Wells's Standard Lexical Sets of vocalic variants (1982: 119-20, 127-68), which include 27 sets and 61 subsets, adding to 1,399 individual example words (of Wells's 1,737 items). To these we have added supplementary sets of consonantal variants: 5 sets and 10 subsets, adding to 204 individual example words. Each example word has been transcribed into unicode IPA, and has been further annotated in terms of lexical set, subset, frequency in eighteenth-century English, and metalinguistic comments (including attitude and label classifications). The use of these sets and their associated example words is standard practice in studies of variation and change in English; including the full range of example words allows for differences in lexical distribution between the primary sources, and between these and the contemporary accents described by Wells. Thus, a researcher interested in the distribution of words in Wells's PRICE and CHOICE sets would be able to find how each of the example words from these sets was transcribed in each of the eighteenth-century sources documented in the database, and how phonological variants were perceived at the time in the context of the standardisation of English (e.g. proper, obsolete, vulgar, etc.).

(ii) Work-related metadata, such as title, year of publication, editions, place of publication, imprint information, physical description, target audience.

(iii) Author-related metadata, such as name, life-dates, gender, social class, birthplace, place of residence and occupation.

Bibliographic references consulted have also be documented.

Project Team

Prof. Joan C. Beal (Principal Investigator; University Sheffield)

Dr Nuria Yáñez-Bouza (Compiler and Database Manager; Universidade de Vigo and University of Manchester)

Dr Ranjan Sen (Co-Investigator; University Sheffield)

Dr Christine Wallis (Research Associate; University of Sheffield)

Michael Pidd (Director; The Digital Humanities Institute, University of Sheffield)

Ryan Bloor (Developer; The Digital Humanities Institute, University of Sheffield)

Citation

When citing this website or any data from the database, please use the following citation:

Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database (ECEP), 2015. Compiled by Joan C. Beal, Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, Ranjan Sen and Christine Wallis. The University of Sheffield and Universidade de Vigo. Published by: University of Sheffield. Available at: <http://www.dhi.ac.uk/ecep>.

The citation is also present at the foot of every page of the website for your convenience.

Bibliography

References cited

Hickey, Raymond (ed.). 2010. Eighteenth-century English. Ideology and change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Honeybone, Patrick & Joseph Salmons (eds.). 2015. The Oxford handbook of historical phonology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jones, Charles. 2006. English pronunciation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mugglestone, Lynda. 2003 [1995]. 'Talking proper': The rise of accent as social symbol, 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Wells, John C. 1982. Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Publications

Beal, Joan C., Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, Ranjan Sen & Christine Wallis (eds). 2020. Studies in Late Modern English Historical Phonology using the Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database (ECEP). Special issue in English Language and Linguistics 24(3).

Beal, Joan C., Ranjan Sen, Nuria Yáñez-Bouza & Christine Wallis. 2020). En[dj]uring [ʧ]unes or ma[tj]ure [ʤ]ukes? Yod-coalescence and yod-dropping in the Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database. English Language and Linguistics 24(3).

Hickey, Raymond. 2020. Variation in TRAP and BATH: on the recent history of low vowels in English. English Language and Linguistics 24(3).

Maguire, Warren. 2020. The origins of owld in Scots. English Language and Linguistics 24(3).

Trapateau, Nicolas. 2020. Lexical diffusion in the making: the lengthening of Middle English /a/ during the eighteenth century and across the diasystem of English. English Language and Linguistics 24(3).

Wallis, Christine. 2020. Using the Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database (ECEP) as a teaching resource. English Language and Linguistics 24(3).

Yáñez-Bouza, Nuria. 2020. ECEP: historical corpora, historical phonology and historical pronouncing dictionaries. English Language and Linguistics 24(3).

Beal, Joan C. 2020. "A received pronunciation": Eighteenth-century pronouncing dictionaries and the precursors of RP. In Merja Kytö & Erik Smitterberg (eds.), Late Modern English: Novel Encounters, 22-41. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Yáñez-Bouza, Nuria, Joan C. Beal, Ranjan Sen & Christine Wallis. 2018. Common, proper and vulgar pro-nun-∫ha-∫hun in eighteenth-century English: ECEP as a new tool for the study of historical phonology and dialectology. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities 33(1), 203–27.

Conference/Seminar presentations

Sen, Ranjan, Joan C. Beal, Nuria Yáñez-Bouza & Christine Wallis. 2019. En[dj]uring [ʧ]unes or ma[tj]ure [ʤ]ukes? Palatalisation in the Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database (ECEP). Fourth Edinburgh Symposium on Historical Phonology, Edinburgh, 9-10 December 2019.

Beal, Joan C., Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, Ranjan Sen & Christine Wallis. 2017. The eighteenth century speaks: The Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database. Humanities Research Institute Catalyse, Sheffield, 4 December 2017.

Yáñez Bouza, Nuria. 2016. Phonological variants in eighteenth-century English: Evidence from contemporary pronouncing dictionaries. AEDEAN 2016, Huesca, 9-11 November 2016.

Yáñez Bouza, Nuria, Joan C. Beal, Ranjan Sen & Christine Wallis. 2016. Common, proper and vulgar pro-nun-∫ha-∫hun in eighteenth-century English: ECEP as a new tool for the study of historical phonology and dialectology. 19th International Conference of English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 19), Essen, 21-26 August 2016.

Beal, Joan C. & Ranjan Sen. 2015. En[dj]uring [ʧ]unes or or ma[tj]ure [ʤ]ukes? Palatalization in eighteenth-century English: Evidence from the Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database. 9th Studies in the History of the English Language Conference (SHEL-9), Vancouver, 5-7 June 2015.

Yáñez Bouza, Nuria, Joan Beal C., Ranjan Sen & Christine Wallis. 2015. The Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database: the phonology of lexical sets in eighteenth-century English. ICAME 36 Conference, Trier, 27-31 May 2015.

Beal, Joan C. & Marco Condorelli. 2014. Cut from the same CLOTH? Variation and change in the CLOTH lexical set. Token: A Journal of English Linguistics 3, 15-36.

Beal, Joan C. & Ranjan Sen. 2014. Towards a corpus of eighteenth-century English. In Kristin Davidse, Caroline Gentens, Ditte Kimps & Lieven Vandelanotte (eds), Recent advances in corpus linguistics: Developing and exploiting corpora. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 31-53.

Beal, Joan C. & Ranjan Sen. 2014. "(W)ho, w(h)en, w(h)ere, and w(h)at?" The eighteenth-century pronunciation of 'wh'. 18th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 18), Leuven, 14-18 July 2014.

Beal, Joan C. & Ranjan Sen. 2012. "(W)ho, w(h)en, w(h)ere, and w(h)at?" The eighteenth-century pronunciation of 'wh'. Journée Parole 4: Walker and the English of his Time (18th c.–19th c.), University of Poitiers, 16-17 November 2012.

Beal, Joan C. & Ranjan Sen. 2012. /hw ~w/at about a phonological corpus of Late Modern English?. The Phonology of Contemporary English. Variation and Change (PAC 2012). University of Toulouse 2-Le Mirail, 1-2 March 2012.

Beal, Joan C. 2012. "By those provincials mispronounced": The STRUT vowel in eighteenth-century pronouncing dictionaries. Language and History 55(1), 5–17.

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