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Fecha: Subida: 2021-04-13T00:00:00+02:00
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Orthographic variation in English: a contrastive study on the distribution of word-final (...)

Marta Pacheco (Universidad de Málaga)


The history of the English language is one of orthographic variation, first due to the lack of standardisation of earlier periods –which was put to an end in the Early Modern period–, and later because of the deepening of its orthography –especially, after the completion of the Great Vowel Shift– (Cook, 2004; Rogers, 2005; Stenroos & Smith, 2016). These qualities of the writing system have exceptionally led to the emergence of different orthographic styles, such as British English and American English (henceforth BrE and AmE, respectively) (Cook, 2004: 178). BrE and AmE have been considered different varieties since the nineteenth century, after the publication of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). In light of the expansion of English worldwide and of the newly acquired speakers and functions of the language, these labels have often been used as umbrella terms, referring also to the spelling conventions of those varieties with a historical or cultural link either to the United Kingdom or to the United States. However, recent research (Gonçalves et al. 2018; Pacheco-Franco, in press) has shown that American forms are also occurring in varieties that ought to follow BrE spelling conventions, which points to Americanisation as an ongoing process in orthography.
These findings aside, the input for studies like these often comes from Computer-Mediated Communication (or CMC), which raises the following questions: Are these findings specific to language online? Will the same results be found in corpora representing offline, written English? The purpose of the following paper is, therefore, to ascertain whether the phenomenon of Americanisation is limited to the online medium or whether it is widespread instead.
Given that the investigation at hand is at a preliminary stage, the only items under study will be the word-final pairs -our/-or, -ize/-ise and -re/-er, which are amongst the most widely localized distinctions. The data will be handled by comparing the quantitative results drawn from the overlapping varieties included in the GloWbE (Davies, 2013) and the ICE corpora. The findings, though tentative, evidence that most varieties of offline English continue to follow the unmarked norms, whereas English online shows an ongoing tendency towards the American standard. These quantitative data will in turn be analysed from a number of perspectives, the core being the theory of textual registers as put forward by Biber and Egbert (2016, 2018) and Biber (2019). Their classification of texts into a continuum headed by spoken language at one end and written language at the other will provide a framework for the interpretation of the data above. This leads one to expect that the closer a particular register is to spoken language –as it occurs with English online (Crystal, 2011)–, the more variation and innovation is to be found. Analyses of language-internal factors like linguistic simplification and of sociolinguistic concepts such as group cohesion (Coulmas, 2016) are also due to fully understand the issue in question.


Congreso Cilc 2021


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Serie: CILC2021: Corpus y variación lingüística / Linguistic variation and change through corpora (+información)