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N-is Focalizers as Semi-fixed Constructions: Modeling Variation across World Englishes


Hundt, Marianne (2022). N-is Focalizers as Semi-fixed Constructions: Modeling Variation across World Englishes. Journal of English Linguistics, 50(2):115-141.

Abstract

N-is constructions combine a variable article and a shell noun such as thing, fact, or problem with copula be. As discourse markers at the left periphery, they focalize information that follows. Using data from a large online newspaper corpus, this study is the first to investigate the variable syntactic integration (bare versus that-clause) of focalizers across a broad range of World Englishes. Variability in syntactic integration reflects the relative recent emergence of this discourse marker. It is also relevant for World Englishes research because it is at the level of semi-idiomatic constructions that nativization in post-colonial varieties is likely to occur. Corpus data show that syntactic integration in N-is focalizers is predicted most strongly by linguistic variables, with regional variety being a much weaker predictor. While no clear-cut regional or variety-type patterns emerge from the data, qualitative analysis reveals some low-frequency patterns as candidates for structural nativization.

Abstract

N-is constructions combine a variable article and a shell noun such as thing, fact, or problem with copula be. As discourse markers at the left periphery, they focalize information that follows. Using data from a large online newspaper corpus, this study is the first to investigate the variable syntactic integration (bare versus that-clause) of focalizers across a broad range of World Englishes. Variability in syntactic integration reflects the relative recent emergence of this discourse marker. It is also relevant for World Englishes research because it is at the level of semi-idiomatic constructions that nativization in post-colonial varieties is likely to occur. Corpus data show that syntactic integration in N-is focalizers is predicted most strongly by linguistic variables, with regional variety being a much weaker predictor. While no clear-cut regional or variety-type patterns emerge from the data, qualitative analysis reveals some low-frequency patterns as candidates for structural nativization.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
08 Research Priority Programs > Language and Space
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2022
Deposited On:16 Jun 2022 11:33
Last Modified:23 Mar 2024 04:39
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0075-4242
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/00754242221081241
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)