Detecting historical continuity in a linguistically diverse urban area

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The paper explores the problems involved in detecting historical continuity in new (post-colonial) forms of English emerged in settings marked by complex linguistic and sociocultural heterogeneity. In doing so, it describes the relationship between modern Singapore English and one of its historical input varieties, Irish English, in the area of the present perfect marking. Working through the methods and the model for contact-induced change employed in the quantitative branch of sociolinguistics, the study shows which indicators should be considered the right type of evidence for establishing historical continuity between New Englishes and earlier forms of English. The paper also argues for a careful examination of the details of the historical context accompanying the emergence of a new form of language in a linguistically diverse urban area as they oftentimes demarcate the exact role played by a given superstrate.


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