Idioma: Español
Fecha: Subida: 2021-04-21T00:00:00+02:00
Duración: 20m 06s
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Fragmentary constructions as proxies for colloquialisation in Present-Day written English

Yolanda Fernández-Pena y Laura Abalo-Dieste (Universidad de Vigo)


The study of the growing orality or ‘colloquialisation’ (Mair 1997) of written English has
garnered scholarly attention in recent times (Leech et al. 2009; Collins & Yao 2013, 2017;
Baker 2017). With the advent of online communication and the consequent
accommodation of speech-like features and strategies into the written medium, the
boundaries between speech and writing have progressively become less well-defined.
Research thus far has identified a number of features that attest the colloquialisation of
Present-Day written English: contractions, get-passives, quotative like (Collins & Yao
2013; Iosef 2013), semi-modals (Collins 2008) or the new uses of the progressive (Levin
2013), among others.
A pervasive feature of spoken language, not tackled in studies of colloquialisation,
is the use of fragmentary constructions (or ‘fragments’) such as (1) and (2).
(1) Not too many adults here, but someone would report whichever way they went
[ICE-GB:W2F-015 #039:1]
(2) The Doulton nursery set was lovely, though. Too good to use. [ICE-GB:W2F-003
In fact, ‘fragments’, defined here as syntactically non-canonical or defective structures
with the propositional meaning of complete sentences, have been explored in terms of
their communicative function mainly in spoken registers (Merchant 2004; Weir 2014;
Bowie & Aarts 2016).
This study aims at discerning whether the occurrence of fragments in English can
be taken as a distinctive feature of colloquialisation not only of spoken language but also
of the written mode. To this end, this paper reports the results of a corpus-based analysis
of the use of fragments in Present-Day British English. Specifically, the data have been
retrieved from the spoken and the written components of the ICE-GB (Nelson et al. 2002)
by means of grammatically specified searches – i.e. with the ‘grammaticon’ and Fuzzy
Tree Fragment queries – intended to retrieve non-sentential constituents: i.e. free-standing
dependent clauses (PU,CL(depend) If only it would!), non-clausal (PU,NONCL What a
mess she was in) and detached (DEFUNC …, you know,…) constituents. The aim of this
investigation is thus to determine to what extent (if any) these fragmentary structures can
be taken as proxies for the colloquialisation of Present-Day written English.
Methodologically, this investigation involves the following stages. Firstly, explorations
in the ICE-GB grammaticon have led to a corpus-driven taxonomy of productive
fragments in written English, which comprises, among others, the following categories:
wh-exclamatives (e.g. what a nerd, what me worry), wh-interrogatives (how about
abolishing governments?, what price democracy?), Small Clauses (case over),
insubordination (That I should live to see this!, To think that...!), if- (if at all, if not
impossible), though- (though more directional), participial (compared with..., depending
on...), valency-defective (Hi to Simon) and coordinative constructions (one beer and I
leave). Secondly, the textual categories identified by the sampling structure of ICE-GB
( will be clustered in the
light of the distribution and frequency of the fragmentary expressions. Thirdly, the
fragment categories identified by the clustering technique as representative of only the
written mode, of only the spoken mode or of both written and spoken English will be
analysed qualitatively with the purpose of discerning correlations between the syntactic
structure of fragments and their specialisation as proxies for colloquialisation of written
Present-Day English.


Congreso Cilc 2021


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