Journal of English Linguistics

Published by SAGE

Print ISSN: 0075-4242


Reviews : The Cambridge History of the English Language: English in Britain and Overseas. Edited by Robert Burchfield. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994. xxiii + 656
  • Article

March 1998


99 Reads

Richard W. Bailey
Peer Reviewed

Levels of Linguistic Accommodation across a National Border

September 2010


97 Reads

The political border between England and Scotland has been claimed to coincide with the most tightly packed bundle of isoglosses in the English-speaking world. The borderland, therefore, may be seen as the site of discontinuities in linguistic features carrying socioindexical value as markers of “Scottishness” or “Englishness.” However, in an ongoing study of four border towns, the connection between inhabitants’ claimed national identities and their use of indexical features has been found to vary depending on whether the localities are at the border’s eastern or western ends, and on the speaker’s age. This article examines the accommodatory strategies of a female Scottish English-speaking field-worker in her interactions with younger and older male speakers from localities on either side of the border. The linguistic behavior of the field-worker is examined at the phonological, discoursal, and lexical levels, and variability in her speech is considered in light of (1) her interlocutors’ actual usage of the variables in question, (2) the interviewees’ perceived status as “older” versus “younger” and as “Scottish” versus “English,” and (3) the broader picture of the stability of usage of linguistic forms and of national identities in the localities in question.

TABLE 2 Complete List of Influencing Factors Under Consideration.
TABLE 3 Rbrul Output for STRUT Variation, 35 Speakers
Figure 4: Proportion of NBrEng STRUT for 35 Speakers, Ordered by LoR
The Manchester Polish STRUT Dialect Acquisition in a Second Language
  • Article
  • Full-text available

March 2013


382 Reads

This study investigates the acquisition of a local variant of the STRUT vowel in the speech of Polish migrants living in Manchester, United Kingdom. While the local accent has no distinction between STRUT and FOOT, the incoming Polish speakers arrive using something close to the standard pedagogical model of British English pronunciation, which clearly separates the two. Measuring the change in production toward the local variant along with corresponding social factors suggests that, in addition to the experiential factors of length of residence and having a native-speaker partner, attitude toward Manchester also affects the degree of vowel change, with a more positive attitude encouraging a greater degree of acquisition. The results are discussed in the context of individuals’ attitudes and use of the STRUT vowel as part of the process by which they position themselves in relation to the target community.

Adverbial and Relative to-Infinitives

March 2013


73 Reads

The purpose of this article is to provide a new analysis of an ill-understood type of infinitival clause, which has been previously labeled purpose clauses or elliptical infinitive clauses and is called weak purposive clauses (WPCs) here. It starts with a puzzle: some infinitives can be parsed as either adverbial or relative, as is evidenced in the ICE-GB corpus, which has been used for illustrative purposes. In The spider monkey picks leaves or fruit to eat, the infinitive to eat is potentially parsed as adverbial (‘in order to eat them’) or relative (‘which it can then eat’). The author demonstrates that those infinitives, for which the distinction is neutralized, pertain to the WPC class and need to be distinguished from typical relative infinitives and infinitival rationale clauses (traditional adverbial clauses of purpose). The semantic and syntactic properties of the class are described in full detail (e.g., meaning, control properties), including several properties that have gone unnoticed (the variety of gap functions, the potential absence of gaps, double relativization) or failed to be adequately explained (these infinitives’ assertoric force). It appears that for most WPCs, a continuative (relative) clause interpretation is superimposed on an adverbial one, leading to syntactic ambiguity.

Verb Agreement and Disagreement A Corpus Investigation of Concord Variation in Existential There + Be Constructions

March 2005


856 Reads

This multiregister corpus study investigates the social factors affecting concord variation found in existential there + be (ETB) constructions in present-day American English. The study questions previous work in this area, which suggests that a lack of concord is reflective of informal, conversational situations of use. The five registers analyzed (conversation, academic lectures, academic writing, fiction, and chat language) showed that the two spoken registers resulted in the greatest number of variation in agreement. A comparison of the linguistic contexts of ETBs in the two spoken registers finds both similarities and differences of function across two spoken registers. The article concludes by adopting the position that the contracted ETB construction is an unanalyzed chunk or formulaic sequence of language.

Two Approaches to Genre Analysis: Three Genres in Modern American English

January 2005


757 Reads

This article compares two approaches to genre analysis: Biber’s multidimensional analysis (MDA) and Tribble’s use of the keyword function of WordSmith. The comparison is undertaken via a case study of conversation, speech, and academic prose in modern American English. The terms conversation and speech as used in this article correspond to the demographically sampled and context-governed spoken data in the British National Corpus. Conversation represents the type of communication we experience every day whereas speech is produced in situations in which there are few producers and many receivers (e.g., classroom lectures, sermons, and political speeches). Academic prose is a typical formal-written genre that differs markedly from the two spoken genres. The results of the MDA and keyword approaches both on similar genres (conversation vs. speech) and different genres (the two spoken genres vs. academic prose) show that a keyword analysis can capture important genre features revealed by MDA.

Pathways of Change in the Diachronic Development of Binomial Reversibility in Late Modern American English

June 2013


50 Reads

Binomials, coordinated pairs of words, differ as to their reversibility. However, the degree of reversibility of any binomial is not necessarily stable, but is subject to diachronic changes. This article hypothesizes the different pathways of change that a binomial’s degree of reversibility may follow and presents corpus findings to show that all these pathways, and more, do occur. Some 200 high-frequency binomials were analyzed regarding their degrees of reversibility in American English across the twenty decades from 1810 to 2009 using Google Books data. While the reversibility of a binomial may remain stable, changes in terms of freezing, unfreezing, and even order reversal are frequent and probably due to a combination of intra- and extralinguistic factors. The interaction between reversibility changes and frequency changes is discussed in light of usage-based approaches to language. The example of gender binomials shows that sociocultural changes may be reflected in linguistic changes.

Stratificational Theory; An Annotated Bibliography

January 1969


14 Reads

In stratificational theory, linguistic structure is viewed as a series of codes which interrelates meaning and expression. Each of the codes is associated with a distinct structural level, which has come to be called a stratum. The works listed in this bibliography include some specifically concerned with the development of the theoretical model itself or with other models employing similar concepts; others are concerned with interdisciplinary applications of the theory, e.g., in computational linguistics, psycholinguistics, etc.; and still others are concerned with describing particular types or corpuses of data. In an effort to identify the general nature of a work, summary statements about its content are included. In addition, annotative comments are given which are intended to highlight theoretical concepts or unusual features treated. When items are considered to be of limited availability, more detailed information is included. Four developmental stages may be identified in Lamb's works, and the bibliographical items which are related to one of these stages have been marked accordingly. The stages themselves are sketched at the beginning of section 2. Section 1 is a selected bibliography of related works. (Author/DO)

A Dialect Turned Inside Out Migration and the Appalachian Diaspora

June 2008


439 Reads

Migration to economically more prosperous areas has been an attractive choice for many Appalachians. This paper traces the effects of migration on language variation within one Appalachian family. Through qualitative and quantitative analysis of phonological, morphological, and lexical variables, we draw distinctions between family members who remained in West Virginia and those who migrated to Ohio and Michigan. The data come from interviews with nine members of one southern West Virginia family. Aside from migration status, education is the most influential factor in language variation patterns for migrant and non-migrant speakers. Our findings indicate that Appalachian migrants negotiate their sociolinguistic identities by drawing on the norms both of their family members and of their adopted homes. This phenomenon is not isolated to one family; economic conditions have fostered the introduction of external sociolinguistic norms into Appalachian communities for at least seventy years.

Progressive Aspect in Nigerian English

September 2013


151 Reads

This study explores the system of progressive aspect marking in educated adult speakers of Nigerian English (NigE), which has been claimed to differ distinctly from that of other varieties of English. A total of 4,813 progressive constructions drawn from the International Corpus of English (ICE)–Nigeria were analyzed and compared with data from the ICE–Great Britain and previous studies. In addition, the acceptability of progressive constructions was tested in a questionnaire study. The results show both distinct stylistic variation in the use of progressives in NigE and some systematic differences from their use in British English. The corpus-based study further reveals some extended use of the progressive in NigE such as in connection with verbs referring to habitual nonbounded durative activities or stative verbs. Many of these patterns of extended use might be explained by referring to the interplay between aspects of first and second language usage (such as that of Igbo and English). Results from the questionnaire survey suggest that only a subgroup of these extended progressives is considered acceptable by NigE speakers.

Imperfectivity and Transience The Two Sides of the Progressive Aspect in Simultaneity as- and while-clauses

June 2008


42 Reads

Recent research into simultaneity as- and while-clauses has shown that they tend to be used differently. As-clauses usually code events with a high degree of susceptibility to change, whereas while-clauses tend to evoke more stable temporal configurations. Following this insight, the present article studies the interaction between the progressive aspect and as- and while-clauses. It is claimed that the progressive aspect in as-clauses is prototypically used as a slowing-down/stretching device (i.e., an imperfectivization mechanism). It is used to establish an aspectual contrast between a prolonged as-event and a (relatively) punctual main event. By contrast, progressive while -clauses seem to behave more similarly to main clauses. The progressive is primarily used as a transience marker, that is, to signal that the (relatively) stable event coded by a while-clause is a temporary state.

An Analysis on Non-Finite Verb Forms as an Indication of the Style of Translation in Bede's Ecclesiastical History

March 1978


3 Reads

Non-finite verb forms are ideal as indicators of a translator's ability and style of translating Latin into OE. (1) This is because in Latin there are six different infinitives: the present active infinitive, the present passive infinitive, the perfect active infinitive, the perfect passive infinitive, the future active infinitive, and the future passive infinitive. However, in OE there is only one infinitive: the present active infinitive. In Latin there are four different participles: the present active imperfect participle, the present passive perfective participle, the future active imperfective participle, and the future passive imperfective participle (gerundive). The gerund is the neuter singular nominal of the gerundive. However, in OE there are only two participles: the present active participle and the past passive participle. The translator had little problem in translating the equivalent forms, but when confronted with those infinitives and participles for which there are no equivalents in OE, the translator was forced to innovate. These innovations are personal stylystic traits and can be used as a base of comparison with other Alfredian Translations.

All Beginnings Are Light A Study of Upbeat Phenomena at the Syntax-Phonology Interface

March 2009


25 Reads

The present contribution investigates the motivations underlying a tendency for phonological phrases in English to start with upbeats, that is, unstressed syllables. The empirical part consists of two case studies based on a corpus of Early Modern English prose, focusing on the variable use of the preposition of introducing nominal complements of (un)worthy and objects of gerunds, respectively. The counts provide quantified evidence indicating that the upbeat phenomenon is not only a corollary of the need for a function word signaling the beginning of a new phrase, but also a rhythmically motivated preference that exerts an influence on the presence or absence of a grammatical marker in phrase onsets. The phonological requirement for an upbeat thus has consequences for the syntactic makeup of phrases. In light of such empirical facts, it is argued that models of grammar conceptualizing the syntax-phonology interface as a unidirectional mapping are not tenable.

Gentlemen before Ladies? A Corpus-Based Study of Conjunct Order in Personal Binomials

September 2013


242 Reads

The present study focuses on word order patterns in English personal binomials and argues that conjunct order in this binomial type is partly subject to other factors than those shown in earlier research on binomials in general. On the theoretical level, mixed-gender personal binomials are discussed as linguistic instantiations of dominance and difference thinking in relation to gender. On the empirical level, the article presents an in-depth study of personal binomials in the written component of the BNC. The factor with the highest impact on conjunct order is found to be lexical gender. Moreover, the modifying influence of a range of other factors is tested. Among these are factors that have proven relevant in earlier research on word order in binomials (phonology, orthography, conjunct frequency) as well as factors that have so far not or only sporadically been tested (lexical field, morphology, sex of author, target audience sex). Finally, the findings are related to more recent theoretical discussions of the relationship between language and gender.

The Normative North and the Stigmatized South Ideology and Methodology in the Perceptual Dialectology of California

March 2008


126 Reads

As part of a larger perceptual dialectology study of linguistic diversity within California, this article focuses on a survey of Californians regarding the evaluation of language use within the state. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of two open-ended survey questions regarding where Californians “speak the best” and “speak the worst” reveals that Southern California is stigmatized by a majority of respondents as having the worst speech within the state and Northern California is valorized as having the best speech, due to the perceived differential access of speakers to educational opportunities. A small but socially significant “political correctness effect” also emerges, whereby some respondents indicate reluctance to evaluate others' linguistic varieties. The findings demonstrate both the need for greater attentiveness to ideological issues in research design and the importance of combining different theoretical and methodological traditions in the study of language ideologies and attitudes.

The Object Called “Language” and the Subject of Linguistics

September 2007


5,881 Reads

The trajectory of linguistics in the coming decades is likely to be shaped by how it formulates its object of study (whether as language or as some narrowly defined aspect of language) and by the corresponding breadth or narrowness with which it articulates its own epistemic project within the twenty-first-century-academy. This article discusses two epistemic projects that have shaped linguistics in the previous century, both of which survive in rather distinct institutional zones of the academy today. I diagnose some of the assumptions underlying the narrower conception of linguistics in the first of these traditions. I argue that the “linguistic turn” within the academy is, by contrast, oriented to the study of language more broadly understood. This creates difficulties for any narrowly conceived linguistics, difficulties which a broader vision of language as an object of study—and of any discipline that studies it—must strive to overcome.

Figure 3: FTF used for the retrieval of causative constructions with have (ICECUP 3.0) 
TABLE 5 Status and Nature of the PATIENT with Get and Have 16
Causative Get and Have So Close, So Different

June 2003


7,379 Reads

The study presented here centers on the causative verbs get and have. Within the framework of frame semantics and on the basis of corpus data, it is shown that the two verbs have a number of features in common but also present important differences. In addition, this study is an illustration of how the cognitive theory of frame semantics can be combined with a corpusbased approach.

The Social Stratification of /r/ in New York City

December 2012


24,057 Reads

This study, conducted among 169 participants in June 2009, is a methodological replica of Labov’s original study of the social stratification of /r/ in three New York City department stores. Results of the 2009 study are compared with Labov’s original survey and Fowler’s replica. Although the distribution patterns of /r/ remain the same as for the two previous studies in terms of stylistic, social, and phonological variables (word-final vs. preobstruent), there have been significant increases in the overall percentages by some 10 to 20 percent, and there are important differences in terms of the age distribution: the 2009 study suggests that lower-middle-class younger speakers use the [r]-less variant considerably less than older speakers, contrary to Labov’s original survey. In addition, although African American informants use less word-final /r/ than whites, especially in preobstruent position, they nevertheless follow the general pattern of stylistic and social differentiation according to the store, suggesting that African Americans are moving toward greater integration within the New York City speech community.

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Momentary Stays, Exploding Forces: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach to the Poetics of Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost

May 2009


640 Reads

In this paper, I explore how a cognitive linguistic approach can help to identify, and articulate a poet’s poetics and thus contribute to an explanatory account that distinguishes one poet’s poetics from another. I have chosen as my examples the poetry of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson because the former is considered to have a very clear poetics and the latter not. I show that in fact Dickinson does have a clearly defined if subtle poetics, and that it is very different from Frost’s. Whereas Frost's poetics is structured by the image schemas of PATH and BALANCE, Dickinson's poetics is structured by the image schemas of CONTAINER and CHANGE. First I outline Frost’s and Dickinson’s theories of poetry with some examples and then compare two poems that reveal the distinction between their poetics.

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Collaboration on Corpora for Regional and Social Analysis

September 2006


132 Reads

Compilers of corpora that document regional and social languages and varieties of languages have different needs and goals, and yet we also face common problems, and we should have an interest in collaboration. In this paper, we set forth our intention to begin such a collaboration. We begin by exploring the parameters of our various corpora. We then explore issues of access and analysis, whether public or private, whether for general audiences or for specialists. Finally, we assert that it is indeed possible, practical, and desirable for us to apply common methods to our common problems, and we propose specific recommendations.

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