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This article explores the interrelatedness of societal changes and changes in language practices. By using a combination of corpus linguistic and socio-pragmatic methods, we track diachronic changes in word patterns and interpret findings in the framework of democratization. The data comes from a small and representative corpus of British English (ARCHER-3.1) and from three "big data" sets (Google Books, British Library Newspapers and The Economist). We suggest that data triangulation, including sociohistorical contextualization, allows us to conclude that especially from the mid-nineteenth century onwards words signaling social status and referring to individuals have decreased and from the first decades of the twentieth century onwards words referring to collectivities of people have increased. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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