Subject and object pronoun use in Bequia (St Vincent and the Grenadines)

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This chapter examines the use of pronouns in Bequia English, considering the quantitative distribution of subject and non-subject pronoun forms in subject and object position in the spontaneous speech of 18 speakers from three villages. We contrast the case-based Standard English pronominal system with a system in which pronoun forms are not distinguished in subject and object. While some dialects of British English exhibit “pronoun exchange” similar to the patterns found in Caribbean English, the distribution in Bequia more clearly reflects norms attested in the Caribbean since the late 18th century, rather than that of English dialects. Quantitative analysis shows that the distribution of nonstandard subject and non-subject pronouns is to a large extent correlated and that co-occurrence patterns, while largely idiosyncratic, show some tendency to differentiate villages on the island.* Keywords: variation; pronouns; Bequia; quantitative sociolinguistics


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