Janet Sorensen is associate professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Grammar of Empire in Eighteenth-Century British Writing.
I learned much from Strange Vernaculars, a dense, demanding, and thoroughly rewarding book. ---Jack Lynch, Oxford Journal Show[s] how discourses on the English language both reflected and galvanized the forces of cultural and political hegemony in Britain, and those of expansion, empire and slavery on a global scale. ---John Gallagher, Times Literary Supplement Sorensen shows how a wide range of authors represented and classified the real or imagined speech of lower status groups, refashioning it as 'strange vernaculars'. . . . She is especially strong on the hidden role of race. . . . Her final section on sailors' talk includes some fine points on Jane Austen, and on the allure of naval speech as both foreign and familiar, an allure that lies at the heart of the book. ---Elspeth Jajdelska, Times Higher Education Sorensen brings together sociolinguistics and literary history in an innovative and subtle exploration of the social cachet that heteroglossia had for writers in the 18th century. . . . This sensitive work is both a contribution to 18th- century studies and a model of how heteroglossia in literature might be investigated in other eras. * Choice * For readers interested in the evolution of English, this is a fascinating look at the role strangeness and otherness played in the development of a national language and identity. ---James Holloway, Fortean Times