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This volume examines a fundamental concept of language within a historical perspective. The concept is that of public and private communication, the historical period ranges from the late middle ages to the late modern, and the language is English. In short, what are the linguistic traits, discursive practices, communicative settings and intentions which identify and contrast public from private communication, supposing it is possible to make such a fine distinction? The volume contains contributions from top international scholars working in the fields of, for example, historical correspondence, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century print news, sixteenth-century liturgy and political discourse, the language of quack doctors, late modern travel writing, personal notebooks, and even the eighteenth-century public discourse of shopping. As this ground-breaking volume is not just about key concepts in the history of the English language, but also examines at a more general level the concept of private and public communication, the various chapters will interest scholars working in language and communication generally as well as English historical discourse.