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Relatives in scientific English: Variation across time and space


Hundt, Marianne (2013). Relatives in scientific English: Variation across time and space. In: Poppi, Franca; Cheng, Winnie. The Three Waves of Globalization: Winds of Change in Professional, Institutional and Academic Genres. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 244-268.

Abstract

Relative clauses have been studied from various perspectives, including their historical development from contact clauses (e.g. Suárez-Gómez 2006), changes in the inventory and choice of relative pronouns as well as different types of relative clause (e.g. Mustanoja 1960). Variationist studies have looked at relative clauses in regional varieties (see Sigley 1997), spoken and written language (e.g. Ball 1996) and different text types (e.g. Biber et al. 2009 or Johansson 2006). Linguists interested in the study of grammatical complexity have investigated the role that relative clauses play in the diachronic change of modification patterns in the noun phrase (e.g. Biber et al. 2009). The choice of the ‘correct’ relative pronoun has also been the topic of debate in prescriptivism, with interesting differences in the focus of attention on both sides of the Atlantic (e.g. Fowler 1926 and Strunk&White 41999).
Previous research on differential change in national varieties of English has had to focus on the lead varieties, BrE and AmE. Diachronic corpora of other varieties are a new development. Building on previous work (Hundt, Denison & Schneider forthcoming; Denison & Hundt 2011, Hundt & Leech 2012 and Sigley 1997) this paper looks at diachronic change in the use of relative clauses in scientific New Zealand English. The focus is on the choice of relative markers in restrictive relative clauses. The data reveal that in the early colonial days, New Zealand academic writing shows relativizer choice in restrictive relatives that is practically identical to that found in parallel BrE texts. In the twentieth century, New Zealand English starts out as a conservative variety that shows an even more marked preference for which in restrictive relative clauses than either BrE or AmE. New Zealand English is initially ahead of AmE in the development towards greater use of restrictive that in the twentieth century. At the end of the century, however, BrE catches up with New Zealand English and the two varieties display the same kind of preference in academic writing. Finally, the the data from this study show that AmE is the lead variety at the end of the twentieth century.

Relative clauses have been studied from various perspectives, including their historical development from contact clauses (e.g. Suárez-Gómez 2006), changes in the inventory and choice of relative pronouns as well as different types of relative clause (e.g. Mustanoja 1960). Variationist studies have looked at relative clauses in regional varieties (see Sigley 1997), spoken and written language (e.g. Ball 1996) and different text types (e.g. Biber et al. 2009 or Johansson 2006). Linguists interested in the study of grammatical complexity have investigated the role that relative clauses play in the diachronic change of modification patterns in the noun phrase (e.g. Biber et al. 2009). The choice of the ‘correct’ relative pronoun has also been the topic of debate in prescriptivism, with interesting differences in the focus of attention on both sides of the Atlantic (e.g. Fowler 1926 and Strunk&White 41999).
Previous research on differential change in national varieties of English has had to focus on the lead varieties, BrE and AmE. Diachronic corpora of other varieties are a new development. Building on previous work (Hundt, Denison & Schneider forthcoming; Denison & Hundt 2011, Hundt & Leech 2012 and Sigley 1997) this paper looks at diachronic change in the use of relative clauses in scientific New Zealand English. The focus is on the choice of relative markers in restrictive relative clauses. The data reveal that in the early colonial days, New Zealand academic writing shows relativizer choice in restrictive relatives that is practically identical to that found in parallel BrE texts. In the twentieth century, New Zealand English starts out as a conservative variety that shows an even more marked preference for which in restrictive relative clauses than either BrE or AmE. New Zealand English is initially ahead of AmE in the development towards greater use of restrictive that in the twentieth century. At the end of the century, however, BrE catches up with New Zealand English and the two varieties display the same kind of preference in academic writing. Finally, the the data from this study show that AmE is the lead variety at the end of the twentieth century.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
08 University Research Priority Programs > Language and Space
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:06 Nov 2013 13:40
Last Modified:08 May 2016 12:04
Publisher:Cambridge Scholars Publishing
ISBN:1-4438-5159-0
Official URL:http://www.c-s-p.org/flyers/The-Three-Waves-of-Globalization--Winds-of-Change-in-Professional--Institutional-and-Academic-Genres1-4438-5159-0.htm

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