Volume 31, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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In this paper I analyse variation in the use of past tense be in data from Morley, a suburb of Leeds, in the North of England, using both real-time and apparent-time data. Rather than concentrating on the traditional aspects of this variable, namely alternation between was and were, I identify four phonetic variants of the past tense be system. I propose that the community under consideration are adopting intermediate variants that, both in terms of perception and production, lie between the standard (British) realisations of was [wɒz] and were [wɜː]. A reallocation process has occurred between these two intermediate forms, along the lines of polarity. The inclusion of the intermediate forms of past tense be enables us to perceive previously unobserved patterns of variation with regard to this variable.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): British English; language variation; morphosyntactic variation; sociolinguistics
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