peter.trudgill at UNIFR.CH
Wed Sep 10 21:21:49 UTC 2003
There is an enormous body of literature on the invariant tag innit in
English English, The origin appears to be in London-based
Caribbean-influenced varieties, where it seems to have served
originally as a 'translation' of Caribbean English Creole 'no?".
It is worth noticing that such invariant tags are very common in
areas where English has a history of being learnt as a second
language e.g Welsh English invariant "isn't it?"; broad South African
English "is it?"; West African English "is it?", Indian English
"isn't it?"; Singaporean English "isn't it?/ is it?"
On English English:
Stenström, A-B & G. Andersen. 1996. More trends in teenage talk: a
corpus-based investigation of the discourse items cos and innit.
Synchronic corpus linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Krug, M. (1998). British English is developing a new discourse
marker, innit? A study in lexicalisation based on social, regional
and stylistic variation. Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik,
I GOES YOU HANG IT UP IN YOUR SHOWER, INNIT? HE GOES YEAH. THE USE
AND DEVELOPMENT OF INVARIANT TAGS IN LONDON TEENAGE SPEECH
Gisle Andersen, Department of English, University of Bergen
This paper investigates what seems to be a fairly recent innovation
in the London teenage vernacular - the invariant use of the
constructions 'innit?' and 'is it?'. Originally canonical questions
requiring person-, tense- and number agreement, these constructions
frequently occur as invariant tags in present-day adolescent speech.
Such a development has previously been attested in the Englishes of
Papua New Guinea, Singapore, South Africa etc, and a likely
hypothesis is that we are dealing with an aspect of language crossing
(cf Rampton 1995) in an ethnically diverse urban London.
In my presentation, I intend to outline the various syntactic and
pragmatic functions of the tags 'innit?' and 'is it?', and correlate
these linguistic findings with non-linguistic parameters such as
socioeconomic class, age and location, thus determining whether
sociological factors have a bearing on their distribution. Moreover,
I will attempt to characterise the processes of reanalysis involved
with reference to the theoretical framework of grammaticalisation.
Finally, I want to suggest certain other constructions which are
possible candidates for a similar development.
My study draws on data from The Bergen Corpus of London Teenage
Language (COLT), a 500,000-word corpus collected in 1993.
Professor of English Linguistics
Av. de l'Europe 20
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