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

Abstract

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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F. Aarts 1971. ‘On the distribution of noun-phrase types in English clause-structure.’ Lingua, 26, 281–93. doi: 10.1016/0024-3841(71)90013-1

E. Berlage 2014. Noun Phrase Complexity in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/cbo9781139057684

D. Biber , S. Conrad & R. Reppen 1998. Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

T. Brunner 2014. ‘Structural nativization, typology and complexity: Noun phrase structures in British, Kenyan and Singaporean English.’ English Language and Linguistics, 18, 2348. doi: 10.1017/S1360674313000269

N. Gisborne 2003. ‘Relative clauses in Hong Kong English.’ World Englishes, 19, 357–71. doi: 10.1111/1467–971X.00184

A. H. Jucker 1992. Social Stylistics: Syntactic Variation in British Newspapers. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

F. A. Kperogi 2015. Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World. New York: Peter Lang Inc Publishers.

M. Schilk & S. Schaub 2016. ‘Noun phrase complexity across varieties of English: Focus on syntactic function and text type.’ English World-Wide, 37(1), 5885.

B. Szmrecsanyi & L. Hinrichs 2008. ‘Probabilistic determinants of genitive variation in spoken and written English: A multivariate comparison across time, space and genres.’ In T. Nevalainen , I. Taavitsainen , P. Pahta and M. Korhonen (eds.), The Dynamics of Linguistic Variation: Corpus Evidence on English Past and Present. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 291309.

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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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