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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This analysis of John Bunyan’s language demonstrates that although he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678; 1684) in a simple style for uneducated readers, his control of the English language was far from unsophisticated. His vocabulary, eschewing recent and learned loans, ensured that the literal level of his narrative was accessible even to inexperienced readers and listeners. Disentangling normal features of contemporary language from stylistic archaism reveals how the Bible speaks through Bunyan’s work. Using biblical language not only raised the tone of The Pilgrim’s Progress, but also allowed Bunyan to habituate his readers to linguistic features that might otherwise have been off-putting when they turned to the Bible for themselves. Differences between Part I and Part II of The Pilgrim’s Progress indicate that the grammar and syntax became increasingly reflective of the language of the Bible, although in other respects Bunyan moved towards a closer representation of contemporary spoken idiom.

Keywords: John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, language, archaism, Bible

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