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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2012

2 - Structural features of New Englishes I: morphology and phrasal syntax


This chapter provides an overview of the main syntactic and morphological characteristics of New Englishes (i.e. mainly ‘Outer Circle’ varieties). The main focus will fall upon their recurrent features, though some rarer constructions, limited to one or two varieties, will also be discussed where relevant.


Our focus in this chapter is largely descriptive, seeking to establish similarities amongst the recurrent features of New Englishes. In Chapter 6 we examine the broader questions raised by these similarities and the attempts that have been made to tie them together within particular analytic and theoretical frameworks. We begin with an excursus on methodology.

This chapter, like the rest of the book, is reliant upon individual descriptions of World Englishes occurring in journals, monographs devoted to individual countries and overviews found in handbooks. Ideally, before linguistic generalisations can be made, we should be sure that we are comparing varieties and sub-varieties that are indeed comparable. Broadly speaking this means being mindful of the ESL–EFL distinction, as well as of the somewhat special status of what we called ‘language-shift varieties’ (see section 1.2). It also means comparing appropriate subgroups of speakers, paying attention to differences between users still learning the local variety of English and those who are competent users who have already acquired it. This distinction is perhaps not as clear-cut as it may first appear, given the principle of lectal shifting.