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Structural nativization in Ghanaian English (Brato)

Over the last 30 years there has been an upsurge in research on postcolonial Englishes not least because of the inception of the International Corpus of English (ICE; Greenbaum 1991). These corpora have been designed to allow for a synchronic comparison of Englishes around the world and have since been widely used to study variation on the different levels of linguistic description within and across varieties. Recently, ICE corpora have also been used to test assumptions laid out by Schneider (2003, 2007) in his model of the dynamics of the evolution of postcolonial Englishes, e.g. by comparing data from ICE corpora of varieties which have progressed to different phases (Mukherjee & Gries 2009) or by taking an apparent-time approach to test developments within one variety (Fuchs & Gut 2015).
It is only very recently that scholars have begun compiling historic and diachronic corpora of postcolonial Englishes to describe and explain the linguistic history of these varieties in real time. One such corpus is the Historical Corpus of English in Ghana (HiCE Ghana), a 600,000 word-corpus of Ghanaian English (GhE) from the period 1966-1975. The corpus was compiled with the same basic design as the written-printed sections of the Ghanaian component of ICE.
The two corpora are currently being used to analyse some of the key features laid out in Schneider’s model to uncover how GhE has changed over the last two generations and to which degree the Dynamic Model can account for the patterns found in this variety.
First analyses of the vocabulary of GhE (Brato 2016) show that large-scale lexical expansion has taken place (as predicted by Schneider), but at the same time the corpus data suggests quite different patterns to those outlined by Dako (2003) in that English items are much more predominant than previously suggested. Furthermore, unlike argued by Schneider, it seems that affixation and compounding only play a subordinate role. By far the most commonly found word-formation process is semantic shift, in which an existing English word takes on a new meaning. Further analyses will focus on verb phrase grammar (progressives, perfect, verb complementation) as well as collocations and various aspects of the noun phrase.

Brato, Thorsten. 2016. "Lexical expansion in Ghanaian English: A real-time analysis". ICAME 37. Hong Kong, 27/05.
Dako, Kari. 2003. Ghanaianisms: a glossary. Accra: Ghana University Press.
Fuchs, Robert & Ulrike Gut. 2015. “An apparent time study of the progressive in Nigerian English”. In Peter C. Collins (ed.), Grammatical change in English world-wide. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 373–387.
Greenbaum, Sidney. 1991. “ICE: The International Corpus of English”. English Today 7, 3–7.
Mukherjee, Joybrato & Stefan T. Gries. 2009. “Collostructional nativisation in New Englishes: Verb-construction associations in the International Corpus of English”. English World-Wide 30, 27–51.
Schneider, Edgar W. 2003. “The dynamics of New Englishes: From identity construction to dialect birth”. Language 79, 233–281.
Schneider, Edgar W. 2007. Postcolonial English: Varieties around the world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  1. Faculty of Languages, Literature, and Cultures
  2. Department of English and American Studies

English Linguistics

Dr. Thorsten Brato

Dr. Thorsten Brato

Room PT 3.2.80

Office hour: please contact me by email to arrange a (Zoom) meeting