An abundant harvest to the philologer’?
This article examines two early sources for nineteenth century South African English, Jeremiah Goldswain’s Chronicle and the Journal of Thomas Shone. Their writings provide evidence for the vernacular of the 1820s settlers and can be considered as representing different stages on the non-standard continuum due to their different social backgrounds. While Goldswain represents the prototypical semi-literate writer whose non-standard orthography offers insights into the settlers’ sociolect (e.g. /h/-dropping, hypercorrect /h/), Shone’s writing is to be found nearer to the standard end with only occasional examples of phonologically significant spellings. However, their use of non-standard grammatical features is remarkably similar. A detailed analysis of was/were variation reveals that the same linguistic constraints are in operation.