Volume 38, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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This study examines the alternation between non-standard preterite and its standard counterpart in London English. A major component of the investigation centers on the comparison of variation in the speech of Anglo (British-heritage) and non-Anglo (migrant-heritage) youth. Rates of preterite vary markedly across different age cohorts and minority ethnic groups, foregrounding the importance of social factors as key determinants of variant use. By contrast, the internal conditioning of variant selection is not robust, as inferred from the paucity of significant linguistic effects. Similarities in variable patterning in elderly and adolescent Anglo speaker groups nevertheless suggest that shared structural affinities may be due to historical transmission. Conversely, comparison of Anglo and non-Anglo adolescents’ use of variation reveals fewer correspondences in the grammar underlying variable use. The results demonstrate that data from non-Anglo groups contribute to a fuller understanding of variation in an ethnically diverse metropolis.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): adolescents; come/came; London English; migrant-heritage speakers; variation
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