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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."


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Academic Paper


Title: BE variation in Sri Lankan English
Author: Manel Herat
Institution: Liverpool Hope University College
Linguistic Field: Typology; Historical Linguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The focus of this article is zero copula use in Sri Lankan English speech. Zero copula use has been at the heart of variationist studies, but has received little attention in New English studies because of its limited use in these varieties. In this article I look at zero copula in Sri Lankan English to determine whether the patterns of use parallel those of AAVE, Caribbean Creoles, or other copula studies on varieties of English including New Englishes. The theoretical issue raised in this article is whether zero copula use in Sri Lankan English can be seen as both a creole-like feature and an optional syntactic feature of those who use English a lot, but for whom it is not a native language, or as a substratal influence in language shift. The variable findings for present tense BE demonstrate that speakers of Sri Lankan English make only limited use of BE absence. BE absence appears to be optional in certain environments where Standard English would require the are copula/auxiliary. Zero copula use in Sri Lankan English speech is especially interesting because Sri Lankan English emerged from an educational background and not from a creole setting. However, the linguistic data for zero copula use in Sri Lankan English suggests that the type of complement and the preceding phonological environment play a significant role on zero copula use, which is comparable to that of other varieties of English, focusing on the study of BE absence.

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This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 17, Issue 2.

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