Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-lmg95 Total loading time: 0.526 Render date: 2021-10-22T23:18:54.466Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Chapter 2 - Localisation, Globalisation and Gender in Discourse-Pragmatic Variation in Ghanaian English

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2020

Tobias Bernaisch
Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany
Get access


The plethora of studies dealing with the quotative systems of English-as-native-language (ENL) varieties shows that the choice for be like is influenced by several linguistic and social factors. As for gender, most studies indicate that women are the prime users of be like. However, it is still unclear whether the same applies to English varieties that have emerged in countries with gender profiles differing from those found in ENL countries. This paper presents a case study of the quotative system of Ghanaian English based on a preliminary version of ICE-Ghana. The findings reveal that be like entered a quotative system that has been reshaped by language contact. Nonetheless, the new quotative still occupies a similar linguistic niche as that found in ENL varieties. Concerning social factors, the findings point towards a decreasing probability of be like with increasing age, but do not show a female lead. An intriguing interaction term between age and gender suggests that women in the sample are less likely to use be like the older they become compared to men. I argue that these patterns of genderlectal variation may be rooted in gender inequalities in international migration that were even stronger in the past.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Bakir, Murtadha. 1986. ‘Sex differences in the approximation of Standard Arabic: a case study’, Anthropological Linguistics 28(1): 39.Google Scholar
Barbieri, Federica. 2005. ‘Quotative use in American English: a corpus-based, cross-register comparison’, Journal of English Linguistics 33(3): 222–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barbieri, Federica. 2009. ‘Quotative be like in American English: ephemeral or here to stay?’, English World-Wide 30(1): 6890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blommaert, , Jan. 2010. The Sociolinguistics of Globalization. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blyth, Carl J., Recktenwald, Sigrid and Wang, Jenny. 1990. ‘I’m like, “Say what?!”: a new quotative in American oral narrative’, American Speech 65(3): 215–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bogetić, Ksenija. 2014. ‘Be like and the quotative system of Jamaican English: linguistic trajectories of globalization and localization’, English Today 30(3): 512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bolton, Kingsley. 2013. ‘World Englishes, globalization and language worlds’. In Johannesson, Nils-Lennart, Melchers, Gunnel and Björkman, Beyza, eds. Of Butterflies and Birds, of Dialects and Genres: Essays in Honour of Philip Shaw. Stockholm: Stockholm University, 227–51.Google Scholar
Brato, Thorsten. 2019. ‘The historical corpus of English in Ghana (HiCE Ghana): motivation, compilation, opportunities’. In Esimaje, Alexandra U., Gut, Ulrike and Antia, Bassey E., eds. Corpus Linguistics and African Englishes. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 119–41.Google Scholar
Buchstaller, Isabelle. 2008. ‘The localization of global linguistic variants’, English World-Wide 29(1): 1544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buchstaller, Isabelle. 2011. ‘Quotations across the generations: a multivariate analysis of speech and thought introducers across 5 decades of Tyneside speech’, Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 7(1): 5992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buchstaller, Isabelle. 2014. Quotatives: New Trends and Sociolinguistic Implications. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
Buchstaller, Isabelle and D’Arcy, Alexandra. 2009. ‘Localized globalization: a multi-local, multivariate investigation of quotative be like’, Journal of Sociolinguistics 13(3): 291331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buschfeld, Sarah and Kautzsch, Alexander. 2016. ‘Towards an integrated approach to postcolonial and non-postcolonial Englishes’, World Englishes 36(1): 104–36.Google Scholar
Butters, Ronald. 1982. ‘Editor’s note on be (like)’, American Speech 57(2): 149.Google Scholar
D’Arcy, Alexandra. 2010. ‘Quoting ethnicity: constructing dialogue in Aotearoa/New Zealand’, Journal of Sociolinguistics 14(1): 6088.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
D’Arcy, Alexandra. 2012. ‘The diachrony of quotation: evidence from New Zealand English’, Language Variation and Change 24(3): 343–69.Google Scholar
D’Arcy, Alexandra. 2013. ‘Variation and change’. In Robert Bayley, Cameron, Richard and Lucas, Ceil, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Sociolinguistics. Oxford University Press, 484502.Google Scholar
D’Arcy, Alexandra. 2017. Discourse-Pragmatic Variation in Context: Eight Hundred Years of LIKE. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davydova, Julia. 2015. ‘Linguistic change in a multilingual setting: a case study of quotatives in Indian English’. In Collins, Peter, ed. Grammatical Change in English World-Wide. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 297334.Google Scholar
Davydova, Julia. 2016. ‘Indian English quotatives in a real-time perspective’. In Seoane, Elena and Suárez-Gómez, Cristina, eds. World Englishes: New Theoretical and Methodological Considerations. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 173204.Google Scholar
Davydova, Julia and Buchstaller, Isabelle. 2015. ‘Expanding the circle to learner English: investigating quotative marking in a German student community’, American Speech 90(4): 441–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Donkor, Martha. 2017. The Experiences of Ghanaian Live-In Caregivers in the United States. Lanham: Lexington.Google Scholar
Ferrara, Kathleen and Bell, Barbara. 1995. ‘Sociolinguistic variation and discourse function of constructed dialogue introducers: the case of be + like’, American Speech 70(3): 265–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fox, Sue. 2012. ‘Performed narrative: the pragmatic function of this is + speaker and other quotatives in London adolescent speech’. In Buchstaller, Isabelle and van Alphen, Ingrid, eds. Quotatives: Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 231–57.Google Scholar
Ghana Statistical Service. 2014. Women and Men in Ghana. Accra: The Data Service Unit, Ghana Statistical Service.Google Scholar
Güldemann, Tom. 2008. Quotative Indexes in African Languages: A Synchronic and Diachronic Survey. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Höhn, Nicole. 2012. ‘And they were all like “What’s going on?”: new quotatives in Jamaican and Irish English’. In Hundt, Marianne and Gut, Ulrike, eds. Mapping Unity and Diversity World-Wide: Corpus-Based Studies of New Englishes. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 263–90.Google Scholar
Hopper, Paul J. 1991. ‘On some principles of grammaticalization’. In Traugott, Elizabeth C. and Heine, Bernd, eds. Approaches to Grammaticalization, Vol. 2: Focus on Theoretical and Methodological Issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1736.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huber, Magnus. 1999. Ghanaian Pidgin English in its West African Context: A Sociohistorical and Structural Analysis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huber, Magnus. 2014. ‘Stylistic and sociolinguistic variation in Schneider’s nativization phase: t-affrication and relativization in Ghanaian English’. In Buschfeld, Sarah, Hoffmann, Thomas, Huber, Magnus and Kautzsch, Alexander, eds. The Evolution of Englishes: The Dynamic Model and Beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 86106.Google Scholar
Huber, Magnus, Dako, Kari and Orfson-Offei, Elizabeth. forthcoming. The ICE-Ghana Corpus. Giessen: Justus Liebig University.Google Scholar
Kirk, John and Nelson, Gerald. 2018. ‘The International Corpus of English project: a progress report’, World Englishes 37(4): 697716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dakubu, Kropp, Mary, E. 2015. ‘Other languages used in Ghana’. In Dakubu, Mary E. Kropp, ed. The Languages of Ghana. London: Routledge, 163–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Labov, William. 2001. Principles of Linguistic Change, Vol. 2: Social Factors. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Levshina, Natalia. 2015. How to Do Linguistics with R: Data Exploration and Statistical Analysis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Macaulay, Ronald. 2001. ‘You’re like “why not?” The quotative expressions of Glasgow adolescents’, Journal of Sociolinguistics 5(1): 321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mair, Christian. 2013. ‘The World System of Englishes: accounting for the transnational importance of mobile and mediated vernaculars’, English World-Wide 34(3): 253–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mair, Christian. in press. ‘World Englishes: from methodological nationalism to a global perspective’. In Heyd, Theresa and Schneider, Britta, eds. The Bloomsbury Handbook of World Englishes. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
Media Foundation for West Africa. 2016. A Policy Brief on Gender Dimensions of Internet Rights in Ghana. Accra: Media Foundation for West Africa.Google Scholar
Media Foundation for West Africa. 2017. ‘MFWA, Stakeholders discuss digital gender gap in Ghana’ (Manuscript). Retrieved from Scholar
Michaelis, Susanne M. 2013. ‘Complementizer with verbs of speaking’. In Michaelis, Susanne M., Maurer, Philippe, Haspelmath, Martin and Huber, Magnus, eds. The Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures. Oxford University Press, 378381.Google Scholar
Newman, John and Columbus, Georgie. 2010. The ICE-Canada Corpus. Alberta: University of Alberta.Google Scholar
Saraceni, Mario. 2015. World Englishes: A Critical Analysis. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
Schneider, Agnes. 2016. ‘Future time marking in spoken Ghanaian English: the variation of will vs. be going to’. In Timofeeva, Olga, Gardner, Anne-Christine, Honkapohja, Alpo and Chevalier, Sarah, eds. New Approaches to English Linguistics: Building Bridges. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 141–74.Google Scholar
Sharma, Devyani. 2017. ‘World Englishes and sociolinguistic theory’. In Markku Filppula, Klemola, Juhani and Sharma, Devyani, eds. The Oxford Handbook of World Englishes. Oxford University Press, 232–51.Google Scholar
Singler, John V. 2001. ‘Why you can’t do a VARBRUL study of quotatives and what such a study can show us’, University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 7(3): 257–78.Google Scholar
Tagliamonte, Sali A. and D’Arcy, Alexandra. 2004. ‘He’s like, she’s like: the quotative system in Canadian youth’, Journal of Sociolinguistics 8(4): 493514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tagliamonte, Sali A. and D’Arcy, Alexandra. 2007. ‘Frequency and variation in the community grammar: tracking a new change through generations’, Language Variation and Change 19(2): 199217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tagliamonte, Sali A., D’Arcy, Alexandra and Rodríguez Louro, Celeste. 2016. ‘Outliers, impact and rationalization in linguistic change’, Language 92(4): 824–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tagliamonte, Sali A. and Hudson, Rachel. 1999. ‘Be like et al. beyond America: the quotative system in British and Canadian youth’, Journal of Sociolinguistics 3(2): 147–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Traugott, Elizabeth C. 1992. ‘Syntax’. In Hogg, Richard M., ed. The Cambridge History of the English Language, Vol. 1: The Beginnings to 1066. Cambridge University Press, 168289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Winter, Joanne. 2002. ‘Discourse quotatives in Australian English: adolescents performing voices’, Australian Journal of Linguistics 22(1): 521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats