Between the Impressionistic and the Arithmetic

Thinking about Criteria for the Stylistic Analysis of Early Modern Welsh Prose


  • Erich Poppe University of Marburg, Germany



empirical historical stylistics, Early Modern Welsh, Gruffydd Robert, Ciceronianism


Empirical historical stylistics is methodologically a difficult field since it ‘perhaps inevitably combines the impressionistic and the arithmetic’ (Guillory 2017: 63). For lesser researched languages or periods, the problems are aggravated because even impressionistic assessments on which further hypotheses and comparative work could be built, are rare. Early Modern Welsh (c. 1500 – c. 1700) is a period to which this qualification applies. This article will discuss some methodological issues and parameters for a micro-stylistic analysis of Early Modern Welsh prose, i.e., on the level of individual sentences. Its approach is bottom-up, taking as its point of departure the introductory paratext to Morys Clynnog’s catechism Athravaeth Gristnogawl (‘Christian Doctrine’, 1568) by its editor Gruffydd Robert. It argues that in the case of lesser research languages, empirical historical stylistics will need to proceed from the analyses of individual texts or text samples which combine quantitative and ‘impressionistic’ interpretative perspectives in order to identify notable recurrent micro-stylistic traits.


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27. 12. 2023

How to Cite

Poppe, E. (2023). Between the Impressionistic and the Arithmetic: Thinking about Criteria for the Stylistic Analysis of Early Modern Welsh Prose. Linguistica, 63(1-2), 197-212.