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Title: The language of Fanny Burney
Author: Waddell, James Neil
ISNI:       0000 0001 3549 5638
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 1977
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Although social historians have always valued the diaries and novels of Fanny Burney for the detailed, finely-observed panorama of eighteenth-century life which they depict, their value as a source of information about the language of the period has remained unexplored. In fact, as this thesis demonstrates, Fanny Burney's contribution to the English language was considerable, particularly in matters of vocabulary, and she affords striking proof of Henry Bradley's claim that there can be no relation between a writer's literary reputation and her impact on the language with which she is working. As might be expected from such an indefatigable recorder of the social scene, Fanny Burney's writings are rich in the vocabulary of everyday life---in modernistic innovations like living-room, tea-party, schoolgirl and agreeability, the nuances of casual speech, rare idioms addition, a small but much used stock of dialect words seems to reflect Fanny Burney's childhood in Kings Lynn. But she was not content merely to record, and chose to express her personality through an adventurous, almost cavalier attitude to word-formation. By contrast with Jane Austen, whose formations seem to spring from an awareness of language as a social instrument, Fanny Burney's coinages, often startlingly facetious, suggest that she was motivated by a slightly self-indulgent verbosity; she was, in Virginia Woolf's phrase, "immensely susceptible to the power of words". From 1793, when she married an emigre, Fanny Burney's style and vocabulary were increasingly aflected by her knowledge of French, and friends and critics alike were quick to notice the intrusion of French idioms and turns of phrase; stylistic influences are impossible to quantify, but the prominence of French vocabulary in her later writings provides more concrete evidence of the Important place which that language came to hold in her life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available