Article published in:Corpus Interrogation and Grammatical Patterns
Edited by Kristin Davidse, Caroline Gentens, Lobke Ghesquière and Lieven Vandelanotte
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 63] 2014
► pp. 105–128
can and be able to in nineteenth-century Irish English
A case of ‘imperfect learning’?
This paper discusses the status of can and be able to in nineteenth-century Irish English in comparison to English English through means of a corpus study of personal letters. Analysis of the data reveals that the use of be able TO is conditioned by the combination of time reference and polarity in the English English data but not in the Irish English data. Thus, the data suggest that some writers of nineteenth-century Irish English failed to acquire the subtle differences between can and be able to present in English English. I propose that the increased use of be able to in nineteenth-century Irish English is the result of imperfect learning through perceived similarity (cf. Thomason 2001 and De Smet 2012).
Published online: 14 November 2014
2007 Electronic dictionary of the Irish language. <http://www.dil.ie> (11 November 2011).
Fennell, B.A. & Butters, R.R.
van Hattum, M.
Kirk, J.M., & Kallen, J.L.
McCafferty, K. & Amador-Moreno, C.P.
Milroy, J., Milroy, L., Hartley, S. & Walshaw, D.
Milroy, L., Milroy, J., Docherty, G., Foulkes. P. & Walshaw, G.
Ó Cuív, B.
Thomason, S.G. & Kaufman, T.
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