“The Spelling and Syntax of Doubt in Early Modern English: Variation and Latin Influence”

Bibliographical details

Iyeiri, Yoko. 2017. “The Spelling and Syntax of Doubt in Early Modern English: Variation and Latin Influence”, in Language Contact and Variation in the History of English, ed. Mitsumi Uchida, Yoko Iyeiri & Lawrence Schourup, pp. 43-60. Tokyo: Kaitakusha.

The word doubt in Thomas More’s writings

This is an article included in Langauge Contact and Variation in the History of English, edited by M. Uchida, Y. Iyeiri and L. Schourup. It explores the word doubt, both nominal and verbal, in seven published books by Sir Thomas More. The findings include:

  • The insertion of b as in doubt (cf. doute) is observable from Middle English onwards
  • Spelling forms with b, however, increases from the mid-16th century. This is clearly observed in the seven writings by Sir Thomas More, both with the noun doubt and the verb doubt.
  • As in Middle English, the use of the conjunction but after the verb doubt is frequent in Sir Thomas More’s writings.
  • The occurrence of doubt is skewed in the direction of negativity. It is most frequently found in negative sentences.
  • Sir Thomas More’s writings include a fair number of the parenthetical use of doubt, as in I doubt not, occurring both sentence-initially and sentence-medially, while no doubt, another form of parenthesis, has not yet developed in the same texts.

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