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Pluralized non-count nouns across Englishes: A corpus-linguistic approach to variety types

Gerold Schneider

Gerold Schneider is a computational linguist and corpus linguist. He is currently senior lecturer (Privatdozent) and postdoc staff member at the Institute of Computational Linguistics and permanent staff member (scientific programmer and senior lecturer) at the English Department of the University of Zurich. He studied English, Computational Linguistics and General Linguistics. He developed a large-scale syntactic parser for English as part of his doctoral degree. His habiliation deals with the connections between Text Mining, theoretical linguistics and psycholinguistics. He likes to apply computational linguistic methods to various linguistic fields and to Digital Humanities.

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, Marianne Hundt

Marianne Hundt is Professor of English Linguistics at Zürich University. Her research interests range from grammatical change in contemporary and late Modern English to varieties of English as a first and second language (New Zealand, British and American English; English in Fiji and South Asia) and language in the Indian Diaspora. She has been involved in various corpus compilation projects and is the co-coordinator of the International Corpus of English. She has also explored the use of the world-wide-web as a corpus and for corpus building. She is the author of New Zealand English Grammar, 1998, co-author of Change in Contemporary English, 2009 and co-editor of English World-Wide (since 2013).

and Daniel Schreier

Daniel Schreieris Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Zurich. His research interests include varieties of English around the world and sociolinguistics. He is author of several books on English in the South Atlantic, has published some 60 articles and has served as co-editor of English World-Wide (2013–2019).

Abstract

This corpus-based study of pluralized non-count nouns (informations, advices, etc.) uses collocation-derived measures (determiners vs. bare noun and mass quantifiers) to extract potential candidates of non-count nouns in a bottom-up approach from the British National Corpus (BNC), allowing the detection of grammatical categories from distributional features. We then use this token list to retrieve data on pluralization of non-counts from nine annotated components of the International Corpus of English (ICE). While the distinction between count and non-count nouns is gradient rather than categorical, it is still possible to distinguish between standard and non-standard pluralization of non-counts. Qualitative analyses of our data show that non-standard pluralization of non-count nouns is regularly attested in second-language varieties, including previously unrecorded types; however, it is also occasionally found in first-language varieties. We discuss implications of our corpus results for common explanations of pluralized non-count nouns, such as substrate influence, language learning effects and historical input. By combining a bottom-up corpus-based approach with fine-grained qualitative analyses we can provide a more nuanced view of pluralization of non-counts across ENL and ESL for the investigation of World Englishes.

About the authors

Gerold Schneider

Gerold Schneider is a computational linguist and corpus linguist. He is currently senior lecturer (Privatdozent) and postdoc staff member at the Institute of Computational Linguistics and permanent staff member (scientific programmer and senior lecturer) at the English Department of the University of Zurich. He studied English, Computational Linguistics and General Linguistics. He developed a large-scale syntactic parser for English as part of his doctoral degree. His habiliation deals with the connections between Text Mining, theoretical linguistics and psycholinguistics. He likes to apply computational linguistic methods to various linguistic fields and to Digital Humanities.

Marianne Hundt

Marianne Hundt is Professor of English Linguistics at Zürich University. Her research interests range from grammatical change in contemporary and late Modern English to varieties of English as a first and second language (New Zealand, British and American English; English in Fiji and South Asia) and language in the Indian Diaspora. She has been involved in various corpus compilation projects and is the co-coordinator of the International Corpus of English. She has also explored the use of the world-wide-web as a corpus and for corpus building. She is the author of New Zealand English Grammar, 1998, co-author of Change in Contemporary English, 2009 and co-editor of English World-Wide (since 2013).

Daniel Schreier

Daniel Schreieris Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Zurich. His research interests include varieties of English around the world and sociolinguistics. He is author of several books on English in the South Atlantic, has published some 60 articles and has served as co-editor of English World-Wide (2013–2019).

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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2018-0068).


Published Online: 2019-07-24

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