Epicentral effects on -ed/-t inflectional variation in Australasian Englishes 1850–2020

Pam Peters*, Adam Smith, Minna Korhonen

*Corresponding author for this work

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This research examines the possibility of epicentral influence of AusE on NZE, focusing on morphosyntactic variation over 170 years in verb inflections (-ed/-t) for the past tense/participles of a set of 12 verbs including burn, learn, spell, spoil. To obtain a diachronic perspective on them in Australasian Englishes we use historical data from 19th- and 20th-century corpora, and 21st-century data from the NOW corpus of online news. Most verbs show increasing use of -t forms in AusE from the 19th to 20th century, and an increase in NZE in the later 20th century, which could be construed as epicentral influence from west to east. But in 21st-century data from NOW, the -ed/-t balance shifts to -ed in both Australasian varieties for eight out of 12 verbs. The fact that -t usage on some remains higher in contemporary NZE than AusE suggests a kind of epicentral lag.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-461
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

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