WE have had very pearlous times and lost much but through devine providance is blessed with sufficent of the nessarys of life': A study of subject-verb concord in 18th-century Ulster
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This thesis investigates subject-verb concord (SVC) in varieties of Irish English in Ulster between 1741 and 1800. The quantitative study is based on the 4747 occurrences of SVC in personal correspondence in a subcorpus of the Corpus of Irish English Correspondence (CORIECOR) (McCafferty & Amador-Moreno in preparation). In general, studies of SVC in 18th-century Ulster are few. The studies are based on relatively small data sets, take few factors into account and do not test the statistical significance of the results. In order to fill the gaps in our knowledge about SVC in 18th-century Ulster, the present study tests the impact of several linguistic and extralinguistic factors found to affect the distribution of nonstandard verbal -s in past and present varieties in Ulster and beyond. While some results confirm those of previous studies, others add new insight into SVC during the early history of Irish English in Ulster. A key finding is the use of verbal -s in accordance with the Northern Subject Rule (NSR). The study further shows that verbal -s is sensitive to type of plural NP subject and subject heaviness. Interestingly, the NSR- related proximity to subject constraint is not found to operate in clauses with plural NP subjects in the 18th century data. Further, no correlation is found between verbal -s and the relative pronoun. These results have methodological implications for future research. Finally, the study shows that NSR is solid in areas where descendants of Scots settlers dominated, as well as in areas where descendants of English settlers were numerous. The geographic spread of the NSR adds support to the hypothesis that the NSR was introduced to Ulster during the 17th century by founding populations from Scotland as well as England. The study thereby contributes to our understanding of the emergence of this SVC system in Irish English.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
SubjectSubject-verb concordNorthern Subject RuleNSRVerbal -sHistorical linguisticsIrish EnglishUlster
- English 206
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