Article published in:Corpus Approaches to Grammaticalization in English
Edited by Hans Lindquist and Christian Mair
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 13] 2004
► pp. 211–226
Life after degrammaticalisation
The present paper challenges the notion that grammaticalisation is opposed to lexicalisation, and that degrammaticalisation automatically entails lexicalisation. An equally plausible change of status of a former grammatical formative is for it to turn into a sociolinguistic marker. This point is made on the basis of the degrammaticalisation of present plural be in Standard English, and its subsequent reemergence as a sociolinguistic variable. Basilectal be was transmitted via the speech of transported London prisoners, among others, to the New World where it is now a prominent feature of African American Vernacular English. The data for this survey are taken from the Bridewell Court Minute Books, 1559–1625. The language therein provides evidence of the speech-community from which many of the earliest Virginia indentured servants originally came.
Published online: 22 June 2004