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Assignment 6: Syntax of English Dialects


Rajesh Bhatt, Kaden Holladay & Sherry Hucklebridge

1. Negative Concord a. Negative Concord is a syntactic phenomena found in many but not all varieties of English. Explain in words what negative concord is.

b. Name a variety of English that has negative concord and a variety of English that lacks negative concord.

c. The following sentences are from varieties of English that have Negative Concord. Give paraphrases of these without using Negative Concord.

(1) a. I ain’t never been drunk.

b. Nobody ain’t doin’ nothing’ wrong.

c. I don’t never have no problems.


2. Null Copula The null copula refers to a phenomena found in certain varieties of English – in situations where Mainstream American English would have a form of the copular verb be, these varieties don’t.

(2) a. Mainstream American English: He is fast in everything he does.

b. Another American English: He [] fast in everything he does.

a. Name a variety of English that has the null copula phenomenon.

b. The null copula phenomenon is restricted in interesting ways. In the vari- ety of English with the null copula that we discussed in class, the null copula can only appear in places where the copular verb in Mainstream American English can appear in a contracted form of is/are i.e. ’s/’re. Use this metric to determine which of the following instances of the null copula are actually acceptable in this variety. Indicate acceptability/unacceptability in each case and explain the logic behind your assessment.


(3) a. He [] driving to Keene. (with the meaning: he is driving to Keene) (contracted form: he’s driving to Keene.)

b. I [] driving to Keene. (with the meaning: I am driving to Keene) (contracted form: I’m driving to Keene.)

c. Yesterday Tom [] sad because he missed his family. (with the meaning: yesterday Tom was sad because he missed his family) (no contracted form exists)

d. Today Mina [] happy because it’s a nice day. (with the meaning: Today Mina is happy because it’s a nice day) (contracted form: Today Mina’s happy because it’s a nice day.)

e. I’m only happy when you [] happy. (with the meaning: I’m only happy when you are happy) (contracted form: I’m only happy when you’re happy.)

f. I’m only happy when you []. (with the meaning: I’m only happy when you are) (no contracted form exists; ‘I’m only happy when you’re’ is un- grammatical)


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