It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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Variation in English auxiliary realization: A new take on contraction
English auxiliary contraction has received much attention in the linguistic literature, but our knowledge of this variable has remained limited due to the absence of a thorough corpus study. This paper examines contraction of six auxiliaries in two corpora, considering three distinct phonological shapes in which they occur and the implications for an analysis of the grammatical processes that underlie the surface alternation in form. I argue that the data best support a two-stage analysis of contraction, one under which variation in the morphology is followed by phonetic and phonological processes. Moreover, I show that this particular analysis explains a number of patterns in the data that would otherwise be accidental. In this way, I underscore the importance of approaching the study of variable phenomena with both quantitative data and formal analysis.