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date: 30 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The extensive scholarly study over many years of the history of the English language has yielded a well established set of accounts of the histories of English sounds, structures, words and meanings. This article urges the re-examination of the evidence on which these accounts are based, and offers fresh examinations of historical changes in the language before and after 1500. The authors discuss the implications for histories of the English language of different sources of evidence, such as material objects in the form of coins, inscriptions and manuscripts, and the impact on the nature of historical investigation of newly found and available kinds of evidence, such as parish records and court papers. The article introduces the discussion of the ways in which different kinds of evidence are collected in critical research tools, like atlases, thesauruses, dictionaries and historical corpora and addresses the relationships among the data that are drawn from different sources and types of evidence, methodology and theory. Finally, the article serves as an introduction to the articles in this section which examine the methods of selecting, collecting and presenting data from different sources of evidence in different forms and ways in order to inform the best research in the history of the English language.

Keywords: history, English, evidence, sources, methodology, data collection, philology, linguistics, dictionaries, thesauruses, dialect atlases, manuscripts, material evidence, historical corpora

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