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Based on the systematic analysis of large amounts of computer-readable text, this book shows how the English language has been changing in the recent past, often in unexpected and previously undocumented ways. The study is based on a group of matching corpora, known as the 'Brown family' of corpora, supplemented by a range of other corpus materials, both written and spoken, drawn mainly from the later twentieth century. Among the matters receiving particular attention are the influence of American English on British English, the role of the press, the 'colloquialization' of written English, and a wide range of grammatical topics, including the modal auxiliaries, progressive, subjunctive, passive, genitive and relative clauses. These subjects build an overall picture of how English grammar is changing, and the linguistic and social factors that are contributing to this process.
Recent developments in contact linguistics suggest considerable overlap of branches such as historical linguistics, variationist sociolinguistics, pidgin/creole linguistics, language acquisition, etc. This book highlights the complexity of contact-induced language change throughout the history of English by bringing together cutting-edge research from these fields. Special focus is on recent debates surrounding substratal influence in earlier forms of English (particularly Celtic influence in Old English), on language shift processes (the formation of Irish and overseas varieties) but also on dialects in contact, the contact origins of Standard English, the notion of new epicentres in World English, the role of children and adults in language change as well as transfer and language learning. With contributions from leading experts, the book offers fresh and exciting perspectives for research and is at the same time an up-to-date overview of the state of the art in the respective fields.
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