Modelling morphosyntactic variation in World Englishes from a register perspective
Keywords:perfect, register, morphosyntactic variation, onomasiology, World Englishes
This paper addresses Miller’s (2000) and Brown and Miller’s (2017) hypothesis that the adverbs just, (n)ever and yet are becoming markers of perfect meaning in spoken English, and this at the expense of weakening semantically and reducing the use of the have + past participle periphrasis. The hypothesis is tested in eight varieties of Present-Day English from the perspective of Usage Based Theory (Bybee 2006, 2011, 2013) and with a corpus-based, onomasiological methodology. The results confirm the hypothesis only partially; crucially, data reveal that in order to model morphosyntactic variation in a rigorous way we need to adopt a register perspective such as that used by Biber and associates (e.g. Biber and Gray 2016), who demonstrate that language variation and change is mediated by register variation.
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