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Variety and Variability

A Corpus-based Cognitive Lexical-semantics Analysis of Prepositional Usage in British, New Zealand and Malaysian English

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Imran Ho-Abdullah

Research into varieties of Englishes around the world has received much attention from scholars. This book offers a new perspective from a cognitive inter and intra lexemic analysis of prepositional variations in Malaysian English and contrasts them with similar prepositions in New Zealand and British English. Based on corpora data from the three varieties, the author provides usage types analysis of the prepositions at, in and on. The analysis exploits cognitive approaches to prepositional polysemy and gives a motivated account of prepositional variations across varieties. The book offers a wealth of corpus based linguistic data and explanation to our understanding of variations in prepositional usage in different varieties of English. The distributional frequencies of various usage types are provided to illustrate the variation.

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1. Variety and Variability 1

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1 CHAPTER 1 Variety and Variability 1.0 Introduction In its report on English as a World Commodity, the Economist Intelligence Unit (1989) noted that the global spread of English is unprecedented in several ways: firstly, in terms of its depth of penetration into various languages and cultures; secondly, in the range of functions which the language has acquired; and thirdly, in the increasing numbers of users of English, particularly non-native users (McCallen 1989:1). Similarly, Ankerl (2000:245) has noted the Anglo-American hegemonic ‘englobing’ of the world. The spread of English as an inter- national language has given rise to many varieties of “New Englishes” (Pride 1982), each with its unique collection of sociolinguistic and linguistic features (Bailey & Görlach 1982; Kachru 1982; Pride 1982; Cheshire 1991; Quirk 1995; Crystal 1995; Greenbaum 1996, Schneider 2003, Mesthrie & Bhatt 2008). As with most objects of study, the proliferation of different varieties of English has brought about the need for some sort of categorisation scheme to allow us to better understand and study the phenomenon. Though linguists / socio-linguists are by no means in agreement as to how this is best done, most of them, for one reason or another, distinguish between native speakers’ varieties (such as American English, British English, Canadian English, New Zealand English) and non-native speakers’ varieties (such as Indian English, Caribbean English, Singaporean English). Others have argued for a three-way distinction. For instance, Kachru (1985, 1994) categorises speakers of English world-wide as belonging to one of three concentric circles...

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