Vol. 27:2 (2006) ► pp.111–145
Anti-deletions in an L2 grammar
A study of Black South African English mesolect
This paper offers a unified account of the syntactic “deviations” found in a second language variety of English, viz. Black South African English (BlSAfE). Most writing on the topic has been content to supply lists of non-standard features which are thought to be diagnostic of the variety. This paper aims to characterise the syntax of the variety via its recurrent properties, rather than as a superset of unrelated features. In this regard I use the cover term “anti-deletion” for three relatable properties: (a) restoring a feature that tends to be deleted in modern standard English, e.g. the infinitive marker to in She made me to go; (b) retaining, rather than deleting elements that are known to be deleted in some (non-standard) varieties of English, e.g. retention rather than deletion of the copula; and (c) inserting additional grammatical morphemes into the standard English structure, e.g. cross-clausal double conjunctions like although… but. The concept of an anti-deletion allows one to characterise one of the two systems that underlie BlSAfE, the other being the standard syntax of the Target Language (TL). More generally, the notion of “anti-deletion” can be used fruitfully in characterising the syntax of individual second language varieties of English on a continuum.
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