ESSE Book Award 2014



Award in Category B:

Lutzky, Ursula. Discourse Markers in Early Modern English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2012.

The book is an extensive corpus-based study that offers a very thorough, systematic and clear analysis of three discourse markers (marry, well, why) in Early Modern English.

Although the topic of discourse markers has received more than ample attention in both pragmatics and historical pragmatics, this study succeeds in providing valuable new insights by analysing three large multi-genre corpora, including the annotated Drama Corpus. The three discourse markers have been analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively, taking into account their frequency, functions, text-type and sociopragmatic distribution in terms of social status and gender.

The literature review offers an excellent, focused overview of the relevant domain, where the author has thoroughly analysed and commented upon the previous research, and clearly set her theoretical, methodological and terminological stance.

Each methodological choice that was made is elaborately justified, and the (quantitative and qualitative) analyses have been carried out meticulously. The sociopragmatic analysis is rare in historical corpus linguistics, but has been approached with apt attention for methodological issues, and may serve as a model for future research. The only drawback to the sociopragmatic analysis is that it considers each of the relevant factors separately without considering potential interrelations, but this limitation has been pointed out by the author herself as well.

Not burdened with overwhelming quantitative data, yet providing sufficient illustrative tables and charts to support the claims, the book excels in well-organized structure and coherent argumentation. Moreover, it is generally well-written, in a clear, precise and readable style.

The Committee has unanimously decided that this is a book that deserves the first prize.

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