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British English is developing a new discourse marker, innit? A study in lexicalisation based on social, regional and stylistic variation
Emergence d'un nouveau marqueur du discours en anglais britannique : innit. Une étude de la lexicalisation basée sur la variation sociale, régionale et stylistique
Based on a number of spoken corpora, this paper proposes that a new discourse marker is emerging in standard British English. While many languages have invariable tags, English has so far preserved a complex tag question system, but there are incipient signs that this complex system is being transformed into a simpler one with a lexicalised invariant innit. My analysis is grounded in the theory of lexicalisation. Existing synchronic variation patterns are interpreted as evidence of different stages in the diachronic development of a lexico-grammatical item: the new invariant tag innit coexists with older, syntactically more transparent structures like is it not, isn't it, in't it and ain't it. To support my claim, I shall first provide theoretical and empirical arguments in favour of the spread of innit. These are to be followed by qualitative data largely from the Bank of English Corpus and the British National Corpus. The latter corpus will then serve as a source for quantitative data on social, stylistic and regional variation. It will be seen that both qualitative and quantitative analyses point unambiguously to the lexicalisation of innit. Beyond investigating the individual development of the English tag system, this paper will isolate a modern British dialectal isogloss and elucidate the roles of regional, socio-economic and age-related variation in language innovation
ISSN : 0171-5410
AAA. Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik A. 1998, vol. 23, n° 2, pp. 145-197 [bibl. : 2 p.3/4]
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