Language of Robinson Crusoe

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Language of Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Dafoe’s popular novel, originally titled The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With an Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates (iii), like most classics underwent many editions through the years. However nothing but the first edition, which is the basis of this essay, can give us the look and feel of the time as intended to be shown by the author.

Early Modern English
According to Volume 14 of The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes, Early Modern English period marked the expansion of the use of the English language outside England. But since English was spread at various times it has been subjected to different influences and additional variations caused by attempts at etymological spelling (Ward et al ch 15 sec 3 par 1). These were evident in the novel in two aspects of language: grammar and vocabulary (Ward et al ch 15 sec 1 par 1-2). Among the inflectional changes during the early modern English was the dropping of the weak vowel in verbs ending in –ed (Ward et al. ch 15 sec 4 par. 7). Examples of these manifested not only in the title (the word deliver’d) but within the text itself such as call’d, fill’d, encreas’d, and fatigu’d. Spelling also appeared to be phonetically defective (Ward et al. ch 15 sec 3 par. 1) with words like perswasions, lyon, lye, and prophetick. Compounding of words were also used in the novel by examples of free-school, hand-maids, ground-tackle and fellow-slave. However, the change in the verbs as well as the defects in spelling was not applied to the entire novel which makes us consider the reasons for such use.

Towards a Purity in Style
Daniel Defoe, in...
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