Morphosyntactic variation in spoken English as a lingua franca interactions

Revisiting linguistic variety

Authored by: Beyza Björkman

The Routledge Handbook of English as a Lingua Franca

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138855328
eBook ISBN: 9781315717173
Adobe ISBN:


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It is now well known that in ELF settings, we have complex language contact situations with high linguistic heterogeneity. The linguistic diversity present in ELF settings naturally reflects itself in several areas, including variation in morphosyntactic use. While the conventional wisdom has been that non-standardness is associated with a speaker’s L1, ELF research has shown repeatedly that this variation cannot be fully explained by speakers’ L1 backgrounds (see e.g. Björkman, 2013a; Ranta, 2013), and that there are too many non-standard forms shared by a wide spectrum of L1 backgrounds, which in turn can be considered as candidates for commonalities. ELF research has revealed several trends in ELF syntax, such as reducing redundancy (e.g. Björkman, 2010; Ranta 2013) (e.g. ‘not marking the plural on the noun’), and creating extra explicitness (e.g. ‘unraised negation’, ‘double comparative and superlatives’). When it comes to morphology, similar trends have been observed (Björkman, 2010), namely non-standard word forms with semantic transparency (e.g. discriminization, levelize), analytic comparatives (e.g. more narrow, more cheap), and finally non-standard plural forms (e.g. how many energy, how much litres).

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