Edited by Alexandra U. Esimaje, Ulrike Gut and Bassey E. Antia
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 88] 2019
► pp. 356–372
Chapter 3.2. African corpora for standards in African academic English
Case studies on prepositions
This contribution proposes to replace the traditional native-speaker model at African universities with a sophisticated and stratified corpus model of nation-, university- and department-specific usage. It illustrates that the long-discussed realistic “national standard” may be possible – at least for restricted domains at advanced levels such as postgraduate studies. A qualitative and quantitative analysis of prepositions and their variation in three case studies shows that there is some flexibility in preposition usage: cases where different preposition choices can be explained by equally valid cognitive principles, cases where the addition of prepositions may be acceptable because this adds explicitness (which may be preferred in non-native contexts) and cases where prepositions may appear redundant since there is no choice and no semantic opposition. Although sociolinguistic values and attitudes may be necessary complements to linguistic frequency analyses, a careful corpus-linguistic study of prepositional choices irrespective of standardised native conventions is the basis for all discussions of new functional standards for African English.