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Power, Plain English, and the Rise of Modern Poetry$
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David Rosen

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300100716

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300100716.001.0001

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The Secret Reference of John Locke

(p.15) Chapter 1 Prologue
Power, Plain English, and the Rise of Modern Poetry

David Rosen

Yale University Press

This chapter begins with the discussion of the low register (or plain English) and its history by looking closely at Shakespeare's King Lear. It draws up Lear's description of Edgar as an example of this low register. The chapter looks at the history of plain English by dividing it into two distinct periods that differ from one another greatly. The first period lasts roughly from 1500 to 1660, which includes Shakespeare. The second period begins with Wordsworth and continues on towards the present, presenting a gap of 140 years between the two periods. The chapter is also mostly devoted to the individual that lay the groundwork for Wordsworth: John Locke, and thus examines the earliest arguments for plain English.

Keywords:   plain English, low register, King Lear, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, history of plain English, John Locke

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