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Reduced into the forme of a Dialogue, for the better understanding of the unlearned: Perceptions of reader-friendliness in early modern printed books
University of Turku, Finland.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6211-0000
2018 (English)In: Book of Abstracts: International Conference on English Historical Linguistics 20, 2018, p. 324-324Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

With the development of the printing press and a more speculative mode of book production, it became possible and desirable to market books to specific types of audiences. Practical books had been available and popular already in the later medieval period (Keiser 1999), but as literacy became more widespread and books became more easily available and affordable, uneducated people became an increasingly important target audience. Clarity and ease of understanding were important buzzwords when promoting books to such readers: texts needed to be written in “plain and intelligible Words, condescending to the meanest Capacity” (Wing R937). In this paper, I will examine the strategies through which reader-friendliness could be advertised to the reader.

The data for the paper will be collected from the Early English Books Online database, which will be searched for keywords such as easy, plain or intelligible (and their antonyms). The Historical Thesaurus of the OED will be utilised in completing the list of search terms, and the search will cover the period up to 1700. I will focus especially on items found within the title-pages and prefaces of books, although such metadiscursive comments may also appear within the body text.

In addition to the choice of the vernacular as the language of publication, at least two strategies for increasing the approachability of a work in the eyes of uneducated readers can be identified. Firstly, clarity of style and vocabulary were frequently referred to by book producers as serving this purpose. Secondly, presenting the matter in the form of a dialogue, which was seen as a particularly reader-friendly way to organise information, was also often cited as serving a similar purpose.

This research will demonstrate how different aspects of the work could be seen as increasing its suitability to a broad readership, and what strategies early modern book producers chose for marketing their works for non-specialists or readers new to the topic covered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. p. 324-324
Keywords [en]
dialogue, Early Modern English, promotional discourse, reader-friendliness
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159701OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-159701DiVA, id: diva2:1245010
Conference
20th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, Edinburgh, UK, August 27-31, 2018
Available from: 2018-09-04 Created: 2018-09-04 Last updated: 2019-04-08Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • Other style
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Language
  • de-DE
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