Results and Analytical Interpretation

Apparent-Time Study

An apparent-time analysis of the Pastons’ letters written between 1460 and 1465 (time-point 1) provides us with a picture of how the innovative

form was used by four of the five speakers during this period.3 Two of the Pastons were in their late teens, John II (JP2) and John III (JP3), one in his 20s, William II (WP2), and another in his 30s, John I (JP1). Figure 7.3 suggests that there is a significant age-based difference in apparent-time in the use of the innovative variant (p < 0.01; X2 = 12.275; df = 3): from 75.9% (n = 673) for JP2 and JP3 in their teens to 83.3% (n = 330) for WP2 in his 20s; however, there is a slight reversal to 82.4% (n = 813) for JP1 in his 30s.

Although all letter writers behave in the same direction, WP2 in his 20s, is closer to the prestige model, which in all probability is due to his increasing awareness of the social indexicality of the innovative variant as he was rising through the ranks, prompting him to consciously moderate towards the incoming standard. A non-parametric Pearson’s chi-square test confirms that the difference between the writers of different ages at time-point 1 (1460-1465) is significant (p < 0.01, /2 = 36.927; df = 2). Recent scholarship has pinpointed the early twenties as the period of “emerging adulthood” and thus the time when individuals explore various life possibilities, experimenting with identity exploration, while not being constrained by the “role requirements” (Arnett 2000) typical of middle adulthood. The data reported here suggests that in medieval society, pressure to conform was greatest during this age bracket. Indeed, the Pearson correlation coefficient indicates the positive correlation is best explained as a polynomial relationship along the age- based pattern. This forms an inverted U- or V-shaped curve in which the

Apparent-time analysis of the use of the innovative  form for four members of the Paston Family in 1460 across three generations (n = 1816)

Figure 7.3 Apparent-time analysis of the use of the innovative

form for four members of the Paston Family in 1460 across three generations (n = 1816).

use of the prestige form peaks between 20 and 30 years of age, as found here at 83.3% for WP2 in his 20s, as opposed to 75.9% for JP2 and JP3 in their late teens and 82.4% for JP1 in his 30s.4

 
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