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Detail of contribution

Auteur: Dagmar DEUBER

Co-Auteur(s): Stephanie HACKERT, LMU Munich, Germany

American influence across Caribbean Standard Englishes

Abstract/Résumé: Previous research has shown that English in Jamaica and the Bahamas, two former British colonies in the Caribbean, shows a significant influence from the American standard variety, especially in the area of lexis (Mair 2002, 2009; Bruckmaier and Hackert 2011). Similar observations have been made for Anglophone countries in Africa and Asia as well (e.g. Igboanusi 2003; Trüb 2008; Schneider 2011). Given differences in the data base and methodology of these different studies, it is, however, difficult to assess whether there is a similar degree of American English influence across World Englishes, testifying to a trend towards the emergence of an International English in which certain forms and constructions traditionally associated with American English have gained general currency, or whether there are divergent degrees of American English influence. If the latter should be the case, this could be related to different degrees of participation in global markets and affairs dominated by the United States as well as to bilateral relations with the United States of different strength. In the Caribbean, the influence of the United States is generally important today, but the Bahamas has for a long time maintained especially close relations with its neighbour (see e.g. Hackert and Huber 2007), and the US Virgin Islands remain politically associated with the United States, to name just two cases of a particularly strong relationship. The present paper aims to systematically investigate the question of degrees of American influence on World Englishes with a focus on the Caribbean, though comparisons will also be drawn with varieties outside this region. A range of countries and dependent territories in the Anglophone Caribbean including not only Jamaica and the Bahamas but also Trinidad and Tobago as well as various smaller ones such as the US and British Virgin Islands will be taken into consideration. The analysis will be based on corpora of newspaper language of a size of approximately 200,000 words each compiled from online newspapers and will investigate orthographic, lexical, grammatical and stylistic features, e.g. –our/-or and –re/-er spellings, word pairs like transport/transportation or mobile phone/cell phone, the mandative subjunctive and linguistic indicators of informality such as contractions that are particularly favoured in American English (Leech et al. 2009).