Contractions vs. full forms...

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Thu Apr 4 12:37:07 UTC 2002

>Yes, my buddy T. Daniel Seely and I worked on this problem years
>ago; gave a questionnaire, worked out a series of rules (including a
>variety of influential phonological ones, most prominently the
>restriction aginst any pronunciation  of the /r/ of contracted "are"
>following the final /r/ in "there" at least in /r/-ful dialects).
>Never published the dang thing.

It is hardly "nonstandard," at least in speech. Ahmed Al-Banyan and I
included a test sentence with "There's two men from..." at the
beginning in our study of the treatment of a number of grammatical
shibboleths by undergraduates in an article in a special issue
(Festschrift for Kari Sajavaara) of Studia Anglica Posnaniensia a few
years ago. Exact reference is not handy right now, but the test was
sensitive to style (written, formal, casual, etc...), and the results
pointed to the growing acceptance of such forms (and the surprising
rejection of what I thought were dead horses, e.g., "If I was...).


>)Can anyone direct me toward research concerning the grammaticality of
>contracted forms vs. full forms?  For example:
>There's two white cars in my yard.  vs. *There is two white cars in my yard.
>?I suggest that you're early tomorrow. vs. *I suggest that you are early
>Of course these are non-standard for "There are two white cars..." and "I
>suggest that you be..." but the contracted forms are also acceptable to my
>(and alot of people's) ears while the full forms are not.  So, yeah, has
>anyone worked on this before?
>Douglas S. Bigham
>Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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