Edited by Alexandra U. Esimaje, Ulrike Gut and Bassey E. Antia
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 88] 2019
► pp. 186–204
Chapter 2.1. Evaluating explanations for past-time reference with unmarked verb forms in African Englishes
Previous research suggests that some varieties of English in Africa do not mark the past tense consistently with an inflectional suffix. Various explanations are offered for this state of affairs, including the option of the historical present tense, non-marking because the context already makes clear that the verb denotes a past event, phonological reduction, and limited English language proficiency. This chapter reports on a corpus analysis of spoken conversation in Nigerian English and Black South African English, which indicates that the non-marking of the past tense occurs in about one in every five contexts where an event in the past is represented. However, no convincing support is found for any of the explanations in the previous research on the topic.
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