South Pacific Englishes – Unity and diversity in the usage of the present perfect
The outer circle varieties of English in Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands show similarities as well as differences, due among other things to the Melanesian and Polynesian substrate influence. Possible candidates would be a preference for conversion (<i>to broom the room</i>) or the special usage of invariant tags (Mugler & Tent 2004: 778; Lynch & Mugler 1999: 10). Another possible source for the unity and diversity of South Pacific Englishes is the fact that – due to geographical, political and economic reasons – New Zealand English may in some of the islands supersede the former prestigious American and British varieties as a model for the national standard. This paper discusses the extent to which we can talk about different varieties of Fiji English, Samoan English and Cook Island English, and which features rather call for a ‘Pan-Pacific English’ perspective. To test the unity and diversity of these new varieties of English the internet was used to create a corpus of editorials and letters to the editor collected from newspapers representing the different outer circle varieties in question. The focus will be on the usage of the present perfect. The paper discusses the results as a first step towards a general description of ‘South Pacific Englishes’ as well as the suitability of the www as a source for such a study.