This paper examines 17th-century descriptions of Algonquian and Iroquoian languages by French and British missionaries as well as their subsequent reinterpretations. Focusing on such representative studies as Paul Le Jeune’s (1592–1664) sketch of Montagnais, John Eliot’s (1604–1690) grammar of Massachusett, and the accounts of Huron by Jean de Brébeuf (1593–1649) and Gabriel Sagard-Théodat (c.1600–1650), I discuss their analysis of the sound systems, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. In addition, I examine the reception of early missionary accounts in European scholarship, focusing on the role they played in the shaping of the notion of ‘primitive’ languages and their speakers in the 18th and 19th centuries. I also discuss the impressionistic nature of evaluations of phonetic, lexical, and grammatical properties in terms of complexity and richness. Based on examples of the early accounts of the lexicon and structure of Algonquian and Iroquoian languages, I show that even though these accounts were preliminary in their character, they frequently provided detailed and insightful representations of unfamiliar languages. The reception and subsequent transmission of the linguistic examples they illustrated was however influenced by the changing theoretical and ideological context, resulting in interpretations that were often contradictory to those intended in the original descriptions.
The origin of pleonastic that can be traced back to Old English, where it could appear in syntactic constructions consisting of a preposition + a demonstrative pronoun (i.e., for py pat, for pæm pe) or a subordinator (i.e., op pat). The diffusion of this pleonastic form is an Early Middle English development as a result of the standardization of that as the general subordinator in the period, which motivated its use as a pleonastic word in combination with many kinds of conjunctions (i.e., now that, if that, when that, etc.) and prepositions (i.e., before that, save that, in that) (Fischer 1992: 295). The phenomenon increased considerably in Late Middle English, declining rapidly in the 17th century to such an extent that it became virtually obliterated towards the end of that same century (Rissanen 1999: 303-304). The list of subordinating elements includes relativizers (i.e., this that), adverbial relatives (i.e., there that), and a number of subordinators (i.e., after, as, because, before, beside, for, if, since, sith, though, until, when, while, etc.). The present paper examines the status of pleonastic that in the history of English pursuing the following objectives: (a) to analyse its use and distribution in a corpus of early English medical writing (in the period 1375-1700); (b) to classify the construction in terms of genre, i.e., treatises and recipes; and (c) to assess its decline with the different conjunctive words. The data used as source of evidence come from The Corpus of Early English Medical Writing, i.e., Middle English Medical Texts (MEMT for the period 1375-1500) and Early Modern English Medical Texts (EMEMT for the period 1500-1700). The use of pleonastic that in medical writing allows us to reconsider the history of the construction in English, becoming in itself a Late Middle English phenomenon with its progressive decline throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
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