A multifactorial analysis of contact-induced change in speech reporting in written White South African English (WSAfE)

Haidee Kruger*, Bertus Van Rooy

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article presents a corpus analysis of changes over a period of two centuries in speech-reporting constructions in written White South African English (WSAfE), a native variety of English that has been in contact with Afrikaans throughout its history. The analysis is based on register-differentiated comparable diachronic corpora of WSAfE, its parent variety, British English (BrE), and the contact language, Afrikaans. Three related reported-speech constructions are analysed, focusing on changes in the relative frequencies of variants of each construction. These constructions show ongoing change, with similar trajectories of change for WSAfE and BrE in some cases, but divergent trajectories in others. In the latter case, WSAfE and Afrikaans converge on similar frequency distributions, which follow from an accelerated rate of change or a slowing down of the rate of change for particular features in WSAfE in comparison to BrE. Descriptive findings are supported by conditional inference tree modelling. The effect of frequency on reinforcing similar patterns of change in WSAfE and Afrikaans, as well as simplification through the levelling of register differences in WSAfE and Afrikaans are proposed as explanations. The study highlights the importance of converging norms in a multilingual publication industry as a site of contact.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-209
    Number of pages31
    JournalEnglish Language and Linguistics
    Volume24
    Issue number1
    Early online date29 Apr 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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