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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: May 2013

1 - Introduction


Background and aims

The present book aims to introduce the student of English and general linguistics to the fascinating world of morphosyntactic variation that can be encountered across varieties of English spoken around the world. At the same time, it presents and interprets the instances of structural variation found in English in the context of cross-linguistic variation, as discussed in typological studies of language. The book, thus, intends to build a bridge from sociolinguistics and variation studies to language typology.

Let me illustrate my general approach using a prominent example of morphosyntactic variation. Many regional, especially spoken or vernacular, varieties of English allow multiple negation of the type shown in the examples below.

(1) a. I couldn't find hardly none on ’em. ‘I could not find hardly any on them.’ [East Anglia, Trudgill 2004: 151]

b. We didn't have no use for it noways. ‘We had no use for it in any way.’ [Appalachian English, Montgomery 2004: 258]

c. I don't want no dinner. ‘I want no dinner.’ [Newfoundland English, Clarke 2004: 310]

d. You've not heard of that nothing? ‘You haven't heard of that?’ [Irish English, Filppula 2004: 82]

e. I couldn't see no snake. ‘I couldn't see a snake.’ [Australian Vernacular English, Pawley 2004: 634]

f. Mi no bin toktok nating. ‘I didn't talk at all.’ [Bislama, Crowley 2004: 690]

g. They didn't have no shirt. ‘They had no shirt.’ [Australian Creoles and Aboriginal English, Malcolm 2004: 670]

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Further reading
Bauer, Laurie. 2005. An Introduction to International Varieties of English. Edinburgh University Press.
Crystal, David. 2003. English as a Global Language. Cambridge University Press.
Davies, Diane. 2005. Varieties of Modern English: An Introduction. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
Jenkins, Jennifer. 2003. World Englishes: A Resource Book for Students. London: Routledge.
McArthur, Tom. 2003. The Oxford Guide to World English. Oxford University Press.
Melchers, Gunnel and Shaw, Philip. 2003. World Englishes: An Introduction. London: Arnold.