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The Language and the Sentiments of their Times

Author: Andrew Struan and Marc alexander

Type: Case Study

The Language and the Sentiments of their Times

As students of history are exposed to a far greater range of primary source material – made readily available through online access via numerous portals and resources – the importance of engaging, and engaging meaningfully, with the texts presented to undergraduates has becoming an increasingly central aspect of the teaching of history. This has provided the history student with a fresh set of challenges when approaching study and research using primary sources. This project has sought to engage with some of the problems faced by history students in their understanding of historical language use, and issues surrounding language in contemporary context. The ability to explain and show the importance of the linguistic past of English to history students has recently been made possible by the publication of the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (HTOED) in 2009. The HTOED categorises the recorded vocabulary of English alongside the dates of use of each word sense, allowing users to see for the first time how words and ideas were discussed throughout the history of the English-speaking peoples. It allows historians to see the word choices available to any given author, and to understand the precise nature and intent behind such a word choice in the period under study.This project sought, therefore, to tie the study of historical documents by history students into the study of linguistic history. It aimed broadly across fields of research to cover as broad a curriculum range as possible and to showcase the breadth and depth of the material available in the HTOED

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