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LINGUIST List 25.708

Tue Feb 11 2014

Diss: English, Sociolinguistics: Schulz: 'Morphosyntactic Variation in British English Dialects ...'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

Date: 11-Feb-2014
From: Monika Schulz <monika.schulzhpsl.uni-freiburg.de>
Subject: Morphosyntactic Variation in British English Dialects: Evidence from possession, obligation and past habituality
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Institution: Albert-Ludwigs-Universit├Ąt Freiburg
Program: English Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Monika Edith Schulz

Dissertation Title: Morphosyntactic Variation in British English Dialects: Evidence from possession, obligation and past habituality

Dissertation URL: http://www.freidok.uni-freiburg.de/volltexte/8511/pdf/Dissertation_Monika_Edith_Schulz.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Christian Mair
Bernd Kortmann

Dissertation Abstract:

In its most narrow conception, the present study contributes to research on
the patterning of markers of possession, modality and aspect in traditional
British English dialects. The degree of grammaticalization of the systems
of past possession, past obligation and past habituality marking in the
Midlands and the North will be compared to findings from phonological
studies to establish whether relic and transition areas postulated on the
basis of phonology hold for the distribution of morphosyntactic features as
well or if the areal spread of morphosyntactic innovations differs from the
areal spread of phonological innovations.

On a more general level, the study uses the synchronic variation found in
past possession, past obligation and past habituality marking as a
spotlight on different stages of the grammaticalization of modal and
aspectual subsystems of the auxiliary verb system in English. It aims to
uncover which kinds of developments can be deduced from the synchronic
variation found, whether the same changes or developments can be observed
in all dialect areas, and what the differences between the dialect areas
tell us about the nature of language change.

From a methodological point of view, the present study contributes to the
growing body of literature that employs the methodological tools of
variationist sociolinguistics to measure and model degrees of
grammaticalization. Relative frequency of use and the patterning of
constraints on the use of different variants of a linguistic variable will
be compared and constrasted to establish their merit as possible indicators
of degrees of grammaticalization.

The present study complements this body of research with a corpus-based,
comparative investigation into the systems of past possession, past
obligation and past habitual marking in two different dialects of English,
informed by current theories of language variation and change and the
methodological advances of variationist sociolinguistics.

The chapters on possession and obligation discuss the correlation between
the layering of past possession markers and the layering of past obligation
markers in the dialect data. The system in the Midlands, which shows
layering of HAD and HAD GOT as well as HAD TO and HAD GOT TO, will be
argued to be further grammaticalized than the system in the North, where
HAD and HAD TO are the sole markers of past possession and past obligation.

The chapters on past habituality focuses on the patterning of WOULD and
USED TO. The degree of grammaticalization of USED TO is established via its
relative frequency and observable reflexes of its original restriction to
combinations with animate subjets and non-stative verbs. A higher relative
frequency of USED TO and weaker disfavoring effects of inanimate subjects
and stative verbs in the Midlands counties are interpreted as indicators of
a higher degree of grammaticalization.

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