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Noun phrase complexity in Nigerian English: Syntactic function and length outweigh genre in predicting noun phrase complexity

  • Mayowa Akinlotan and Alex Housen

Structural simplicity/complexity is an important variable with which New Englishes and native varieties are identified and conceptualised, but predicting such variation in complexity has received little attention in the literature. New Englishes, especially the outer circle varieties such as Nigerian or Indian English, differ in form and function from the inner circle varieties, such as British or American English, but the extent of such variation varies greatly and merits further investigation. According to Gorlach (1998), we should expect New Englishes to demonstrate simplification at the levels of morphology, lexis, and syntax. This has indeed been shown to be the case in some varieties, but it has also been shown that this variation differs according to different linguistic and non-linguistic factors. Most recently, Schilk and Schaub (2016) have shown how noun phrase (NP) structure can reveal the underlying structural simpification predicted in the New Englishes varieties. Brunner (2014) examined NP complexity across three New Englishes (British, Singaporean, and Kenyan English), explicating how grammars of the indigeneous languages in Singapore and Kenya influence NP simplicity/complexity.

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