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Grammatical innovations in Multicultural London English

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Giulia Bovolenta.

Recent years have seen growing interest in interdisciplinary research at the intersection of sociolinguistics and formal linguistic theory, sometimes called Sociosyntax (see e.g., Cornips and Corrigan 2005; Lingua special issue on formalizing syntactic variation (2010), vol 120.5). Recent research into urban multiethnolects in the UK (e.g., Cheshire et al 2011) has revealed unexpected syntactic properties in emerging varieties of English, particularly Multicultural London English (MLE). Research on MLE has so far been carried out in a variationist sociolinguistic framework (Cheshire et al 2011 a.o), but here I report on my research into grammatical innovations in MLE in a broadly generative framework. I focus on the new pronoun man, preposition+definite article drop (P-D-drop), and why…for interrogatives. I will present analyses for the three phenomena, and discuss how the study of grammatical variations picked up through sociolinguistic research can inform our understanding of the limits of the language faculty.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Linguistic Society series.

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