Pronoun omission in high-contact varieties of English
Complexity versus efficiency
This paper considers pronoun omission in different varieties of English. It argues that omitted pronouns simplify structures if their referents are accessible in discourse, which explains the greater frequency of this grammatical feature in high-contact varieties of English, spoken in speech communities with a history of high numbers of second-language users. A corpus study of two high-contact varieties, Indian English and Singapore English, and a low-contact one, British English, is conducted in order to examine the distribution of omitted and overt pronouns. As expected, pronoun omission is more frequent in the high-contact varieties than in British English. Moreover, pronouns are omitted almost exclusively when they have highly accessible referents as antecedents, which is not a conventionalized feature of the grammars of Indian or Singapore English, where overt pronouns are the default choice when referring to antecedents.
Keywords: pronoun omission, complexity, efficiency, contact, varieties of English, Indian English, Singapore English, British English
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