Abstract and Keywords
Jonson’s English Grammar was printed posthumously in the 1640 Folio of his complete works. As the sole extant version of a project that was clearly unfinished it is intriguing, raising questions, for example, concerning Jonson’s authorial motivation and the critical response to the work in the seventeenth century. This chapter considers Jonson’s expressed purposes in writing the grammar of his native language and its scholarly reception within the context of the contemporary awareness of an emerging need for a grammar of vernacular English that would standardize use and establish its status alongside other European languages. It shows that despite Jonson’s negative assessment of his achievements and his acknowledging the difficulties of the task, Jonsonian English was regarded predominantly as a model for vernacular standards, Jonson as a prominent grammarian. His taking on this scholarly challenge made a major historical contribution to the production of an English vernacular grammar. It also illuminates our understanding of the early modern cultural preoccupations associated with this important venture.
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