By Professor Geoffrey Leech, Marianne Hundt, Christian Mair, Nicholas Smith
In response to the systematic research of huge quantities of computer-readable textual content, this booklet indicates how the English language has been altering within the contemporary previous, usually in unforeseen and formerly undocumented methods. The examine relies on a bunch of matching corpora, referred to as the 'Brown relatives' of corpora, supplemented by means of more than a few different corpus fabrics, either written and spoken, drawn normally from the later 20th century. one of the concerns receiving specific consciousness are the effect of yank English on British English, the position of the clicking, the 'colloquialization' of written English, and a variety of grammatical themes, together with the modal auxiliaries, revolutionary, subjunctive, passive, genitive and relative clauses. those matters construct an total photo of the way English grammar is altering, and the linguistic and social elements which are contributing to this strategy.
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Extra resources for Change in Contemporary English: A Grammatical Study (Studies in English Language)
Er, in which he blames somebody else, okay? What is the effect of that? [BNC HYH; law school tutorial] () He turned to Hitch. ’ Hitch shook his head. ‘I agree with Joe,’ he added. ’ Plummer wanted to know, a note of exasperation in his voice. [BNC G; fiction: Shaun Hutson, Captives ()] Of course, a search in a tagged corpus need not limit itself to individual strings of words such as by whom or by who. A search in the tagged F-LOB corpus for ‘any preposition’ followed by relative whom revealed a raw total of instances (which had to be reduced slightly after manual post-editing of the concordance), whereas the corresponding search for prepositions followed by either relative or interrogative who produced not a single relevant case and only a handful of spurious examples of the type ‘a matter of who is in control’.
Where, to use a convenient distinction introduced by William Labov (), the prescriptive tradition is concerned with social ‘markers’, that is those variable usages which are salient in the community and the subject of conscious debate, corpora make it possible to additionally investigate social ‘indicators’, the often more interesting and ultimately more important changes which proceed below the threshold of conscious awareness. The corpus linguist’s moment of deepest satisfaction is probably reached when the unprejudiced analysis of diachronic trends in the corpora reveals changes which have not been previously suspected.
The gradual expansion of some participles into the prepositional domain is by no means a unique phenomenon, but illustrates a well-trodden path of grammaticalization. Earlier instances from the history of English include regarding, concerning, barring or even during and notwithstanding, and similar phenomena are common in other languages. For lay and expert observers alike, an additional difficulty in perceiving grammatical change, in particular grammatical change at close range, is that it generally proceeds more slowly than lexical and phonetic change.