The fate of the local in light of the global

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This paper investigates variation in the use of past tense preverbal markers <i>bin </i>and<i> did</i> by two generations of speakers in Bequia. Preverbal markers<i> </i>have been characterised as socially stigmatised indexing rural dialects, speakers&#8217; lower socioeconomic status, or older age. Results of the quantitative multivariate analysis in two of the Bequia communities, Hamilton and Paget Farm, point to differences in the use of <i>bin </i>between older and younger speakers showing that adolescents in Paget Farm<i> </i>have recycled the form and are using it significantly more than<i> </i>their grandparents, as well as their peers in Hamilton. I suggest that the increase of preverbal <i>bin </i>in Paget Farm can be considered as a<i> </i>response of adolescents in this community to the recent socio-economic transformations on the island. I<i> </i>argue that the new socio-economic landscape has led to a change in the social meaning of <i>bin </i>from a stigmatised rural form to a marker of local authenticity. This is important considering<i> </i>the social and linguistic judgements surrounding this community which is assigned little symbolic power according to the socio-economic criteria which usually constitute the linguistic marketplace. The study demonstrates that to interpret the patterns of variation between creole and standard variants the effects of globalising processes need to be considered next to local ideologies. Keywords: social meaning of variation; tense marking; language and identity; globalisation


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