The Typology of Asian Englishes
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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Recent research has aimed to integrate the investigation of vernacular universals in native English dialects with variation in postcolonial varieties of English and cross-linguistic typology (Chambers 2004; Kortmann 2004). This article assumes that any search for universals in bilingual varieties must include an assessment of the grammatical conditioning of features and a comparison with the relevant substrates. Comparing Indian English and Singapore English, I examine three proposed candidates for English universals (Kortmann and Szmrecsanyi 2004), all of which show some presence in the two varieties — past tense omission, over-extension of the progressive, and copula omission. Past tense omission is found to be genuinely similar in the two varieties and accounted for by typological parallels in the substrates, whereas progressive morphology use and copula omission are found to be divergent in the two varieties and accounted for by typological differences in the substrates. All three variable systems are explicable as substrate-superstrate interactions, tempering claims of universality in both distribution and explanation.


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