chapter  10
32 Pages

Digging for Roots Universals and Contact in Regional Varieties of English

This chapter explores the relationship between vernacular and other kinds of universals and language or dialect contacts through a corpus-based comparative method. We focus on three nonstandard syntactic features that can be assumed to represent different levels of universality and language/ dialect contact backgrounds and their distribution in two sets of regional or national varieties of English, which in turn can be positioned differently on the vernacular-standard continuum, and furthermore, have different sociohistorical backgrounds either as so-called ‘L1 varieties’ or as ‘contact’ or ‘L2 varieties’. It is hoped that this kind of comparison will shed light on the question of whether there are ‘vernacular universals’ in the sense of Chambers (2004) and, if so, what kinds of varieties of English constitute their proper locus. Cross-linguistic comparisons will also be made wherever possible to ascertain the ‘degree of universality’ of the investigated features.