MA course on letters at Leiden

Next semester, an MA course will be taught at the University of Leiden called Letters as Sociohistorical-linguistic documents:

Sociolinguists want to get access to informal spoken language – an impossible aim for the historical sociolinguist. In this course we will look at the next-best option: the language of private, informal letters, and we will draw on these letters as an object of sociolinguistic analysis. The focus will be on the Late Modern English period (1700 – 1900), and on published and unpublished letters by famous and not-so-famous people, ranging from Jane Austen, Mrs Montagu and Robert Lowth to William and Elizabeth Clift. We will study handwriting, letter-writing conventions and the postal system; the spelling, vocabulary and grammar of the language of letters; and we will correlate our findings with sociolinguistic variables such as the writer’s social and regional origin, age, gender and education as well as social network membership.

You will find more information on the course here.

The letter shown in this post is from Mrs Montagu, one of the members of the Bluestocking Circle to which she belonged. The letters is currently on display on the website for Dr Johnson’s House in London, in connection with a display on Elizabeth Carter, one of Mrs Montagu’s fellow Buestockings. Attempts at transcribing it will we welcome, and are encouraged by means of a comment on this blog.

Thanks to Marian Rietdijk for her correction!

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6 Responses to MA course on letters at Leiden

  1. diane1genie says:

    My dear Sister ye? 14th of feb
    1766

    I intended you a longer letter wrigh?
    but behold Miss? Gustin at my elbow, looking as if
    she had a great deal to say, which is certainly
    singularly malicious, as she is of .. …..an.in
    the most silent. I will certainly take care about
    Mr Largharnas son?. When I had written this in
    came Lord Logwaltos. I was obliged to lay down
    my pen, for the Mr Garlon w..h it disposed to
    talk to me, yet when the company concreased?
    to three persons, I knew th.. she can snipe? a
    dwelte she wd (would) not venture to engage in a ..
    *squiggle* .. from? Lord ly.alton must have
    furnished more than his share of the
    conversation whereas when we p..ted she

    I tried to transcribe it but it was really difficult since the picture was really small and I tried to enlarge it but then it became very blurry. I did my best!

    • beayjulio22 says:

      As transcriptions could be posted after yesterday’s lesson, I want to expound mine on Elizabeth Carter’s letter.
      Unfortunately, there are words that I was unable to transcribe -these are written in brackets- and that is the reason why I am interested in your suggestions.
      Thanks a lot!

      Transcription:
      I intended you a longer letter (wrigh)
      but behold M ss Carter at my elbow, looking as if
      she had a great deal to say, which is certainly
      singularly malicious, as she is of all Woman( …)
      the most silent. I will certainly take care about
      M ss Larghornas son. When I had written this in
      came Lord Lymelton (so or &) I was obliged to lay down
      my pen, for the Mss Carter with it disposed to
      talk to me, yet when the company increased
      to three persons, I know (o knew) the she can (……) or
      dwells she wd not venture to engage (…)
      (….) poor Lord Lymaltess (o Lyllalton) must have
      furnished more than his share of the
      conversation whereas when we parted she

      • diane1genie says:

        Ah the woman in line 4 I failed to see that! Maybe it is womankind since it seems a bit of the righthand side is missing and it does look like “kin” follows “woman”, wouldn’t you agree?

    • beayjulio22 says:

      I would agree with the last part since I can distinguish the “-in” but I am not really sure about the “k”. Probably it is the most suitable option since it makes sense although what about the required last “d” for “womankind”?
      Has the writer decided to drop it or is it just a problem with the image that does not allow us to see the whole letter?
      By the way, I published a new post regarding this issue so you may respond there if you please. Thanks a lot!!

  2. Marian says:

    According to the site ‘Dr Johnson’s House’ the above letter is not by Mrs. E. Carter herself, but written by Mrs. Montagu? As far as I can read her handwriting, the contents is about E. Carter though. Well, partly that is.

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