Sven Leuckert


Specialised Registers from a Sociohistorical Perspective


Diachronic descriptions of specialised registers, i.e. “language variet[ies] associated with both a particular situation of use and with pervasive linguistic features that serve important functions within that situation of use” (Biber & Conrad 2009: 31), have received increasing attention in the last two decades (e.g. Williams 2007; Taavitsainen et al. 2022). Lesser-known and lesser-studied specialised registers that played or continue to play important roles in their respective communities have been highlighted in particular; examples include, among others, Delgado’s (2019) investigation of Ship English and Braber et al.’s (2017) work on the Coal Miner’s  Dialect in the East Midlands. While identifying the linguistic features of these specialised registers is crucial for a meaningful characterisation (see Biber & Conrad 2009: 33), their emergence and development through time can only be properly understood if their specific and often highly dynamic sociohistorical contexts are taken into account. Thus, in order to showcase  new developments in the field and to broaden the horizon of specialised register studies, the workshop explicitly seeks to join insights from historical lexicography and historical sociolinguistics. In particular, the workshop welcomes contributions that employ and bring together diverse types of data, such as archival data, dictionaries, corpora, oral histories, etc. as well as mixed-method approaches, to further our understanding of the sociohistorical development of specialised registers. 


Call for papers 

The workshop organiser invites contributions (20 minutes for presentation + 10 minutes for discussion) addressing one or more of the following aspects: 

• projects showcasing innovative methodology and/or new datasets; 

• theoretical and empirical opportunities and challenges of research at the interface of historical lexicography and historical sociolinguistics; 

• methodological opportunities and challenges in the description of specialised registers,  especially the collection and digitisation of relevant historical data; 

• the emergence and differentiation of distinct varieties of specialised registers (e.g.  Aviation English as ‘standardised phraseology’ vs. ‘Plain Aviation English’, cf.  Bieswanger 2016);

• diastratic and diatopic variation of historical specialised registers; 

• specialised registers in multilingual communities; 

• descriptions of lesser-known specialised registers in their sociohistorical context; 

• as well as other issues related to the topic of the thematic workshop. 


Biber, Douglas & Susan Conrad (2009). Register, Genre, and Style. Cambridge: Cambridge  University Press. 

Bieswanger, Markus (2016). “Aviation English: Two distinct specialised registers?”  Variational Text Linguistics: Revisiting Register in English. Eds. Christoph Schubert and  Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 67-85. 

Braber, Natalie, Claire Ashmore, & Suzy Harrison (2017). Pit Talk of the East Midlands: Coal  Miner’s Dialect. Sheffield: Bradwell Books. 

Delgado, Sally (2019). Ship English: Sailors’ Speech in the Early Colonial Caribbean. Berlin:  Language Science Press. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.2589996 

Taavitsainen, Irma, Turo Hiltunen, Jeremy J. Smith, & Carla Suhr (eds.) (2022). Genre in  English Medical Writing, 1500–1820: Sociocultural Contexts of Production and Use.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Williams, Christopher (2007). Tradition and Change in Legal English: Verbal Constructions  in Prescriptive Texts. 2nd revised edition. Berlin: Peter Lang.