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Zero articles in Indian Englishes

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Abstract

The omission of articles where British or American English require either a definite or indefinite article is a typical feature of Indian English (IndE). Sharma (2005b) found that substrate influence played a role for the use of indefinite one in IndE, whereas pragmatic functions (givenness and modification) played a role in the use of zero articles (see also Sedlatschek 2009, 227). Definite the and indefinte a are also omitted by Fiji Indians in Fiji (Mugler & Tent 2008) and those who have moved to a secondary diaspora in places like New Zealand or Australia. Sharma (2005a) investigated the use of articles by first-generation immigrants from India in the US. Her study shows that zero articles are a feature that is retained in the diaspora context, even by speakers who are otherwise close to using standard, native-like English. The data for this paper come from fieldwork in Fiji (spontaneous conversations) and sociolinguistic interviews conducted in the Fiji Indian Diaspora in Wellington, New Zealand. Recordings from the secondary diaspora include both first- and second-generation migrants, and the study thus investigates whether zero articles are retained in the speech even of people who acquired their English in a predominantly English-speaking environment. The study also aims to link the use of zero articles to informants’ construction of identity in the secondary diaspora.

References

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