The contributions in this book discuss letter-writing from 1400 to 1800, and the material studied ranges from the late medieval Paston Letters and the correspondence between Sweden and the German Hanse to Early Modern English family letters and correspondence in natural history between England and North America in the eighteenth century. By bringing a set of corpus linguistic, discourse analytic, pragmatic and sociolinguistic approaches to bear on historical letter-writing activity, the articles both extend and complement the traditional letter-writing research in the history of European languages, which approaches the topic from a largely rhetorical perspective. The articles in this book were first published as a Special Issue of the Journal of Historical Pragmatics 5:2 (2004), share a contextualised view of letters: whether approached from the perspective of language contact, social and discursive practices, intertextuality, audience design or linguistic politeness, letters are analysed as part of their specific familial, business or scientific network. Writing letters thus emerges as highly context-sensitive social interaction.
1. About the authors; 2. Introduction (by Nevalainen, Terttu); 3. Power and politeness: Languages and salutation formulas in correspondence between Sweden and the German Hanse (by Tiisala, Seija); 4. Letters: A new approach to text typology (by Bergs, Alexander); 5. Text in context: A critical discourse analysis approach to Margaret Paston (by Wood, Johanna L.); 6. Intertextual networks in the correspondence of Lady Katherine Paston (by Tanskanen, Sanna-Kaisa); 7. Inside and out: Forms of address in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century letters (by Nevala, Minna); 8. Yours sincerely and yours affectionately : On the origin and development of two positive politeness markers (by Bijkerk, Annemieke); 9. "The pleasure of receiving your favour": The colonial exchange in eighteenth-century natural history (by Valle, Ellen); 10. Susan Fitzmaurice, The Familiar Letter in Early Modern English: A Pragmatic Approach. (by Fludernik, Monika)