chapter  2
22 Pages

Vernacular Universals and Angloversals in a Typological Perspective


In this study, we endeavor to take a typological perspective on languageinternal variation in English. Our inquiry will be based on the largest comparative survey to date of entire grammatical subsystems of varieties of English worldwide (Kortmann and Szmrecsanyi 2004). A catalogue of 76 morphosyntactic features taken from the 11 core areas of English morphosyntax will be investigated for 46 (groups of) nonstandard varieties of English around the world. Our analytical point of departure is the notion that there are different reasons that languages, or varieties of a given language, should exhibit the same linguistic features. Such features may fall into any one of the following categories:

(i) genuine universals (e.g. all languages have vowels); (ii) typoversals, i.e. features that are common to languages of a specic

typological type (e.g. SOV languages tend to have postpositions); (iii) phyloversals, i.e. features that are shared by a family of genetically

related languages (e.g. languages belonging to the Indo-European language family distinguish between masculine and feminine gender);

(iv) areoversals, i.e. features common to languages which are in geographical proximity to each other (e.g. languages belonging to the Balkan Sprachbund have finite complement clauses);

(v) vernacular universals, i.e. features that are common to spoken vernaculars (e.g. spoken vernaculars tend to have double negation);

(vi) features that tend to recur in vernacular varieties of a specic language: angloversals, francoversals, etc. (e.g. in English vernaculars, adverbs tend to have the same morphological form as adjectives);

(vii) varioversals, i.e. features recurrent in language varieties with a similar socio-history, historical depth, and mode of acquisition (e.g. L2 varieties of English tend to use resumptive pronouns in relative clauses).