Register variation in spoken British English
The case of verb-forming suffixation
The aim of this paper is to identify the effect of register variation in spoken British English on the occurrence of the four principal verb-forming suffixes: ‑ate, ‑en, ‑ify and ‑ize, by building on the work of Biber et al. (1999), Plag et al. (1999) and Schmid (2011). Register variation effects were compared between the less formal Demographically-Sampled and the more formal Context-Governed components of the original 1994 version of the British National Corpus. The pattern of ‑ize derivatives revealed the most marked register-based differences with respect to frequency counts and the creation of neologisms, whereas ‑en derivatives varied the least compared with the other three suffixes. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of these suffix profiles in the context of spoken language reveal markers of register formality that have not hitherto been explored; derivative usage patterns provide an additional dimension to previous research on register variation which has mainly focused on grammatical and lexical features of language.
Keywords: register variation, derivational morphology, spoken language, verb-forming suffixation
Published online: 31 May 2018
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