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  • 2020GalianoPhD

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Forms and functions of second person plural forms in world Englishes: A corpus-based Study

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Liviana Galiano
Publication date2020
Number of pages301
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The present work is a corpus-based research on the plural forms of the second person pronoun you (2PL forms henceforth) which focuses on the similarities and differences among twenty varieties of English. The corpus (GloWbe) contains 1.9 billion words collected on the web in 2012. The 2PL forms I have analysed are the result of both morphological and analytic strategies of number marking: yous(e), yi(s/z), yus, you guys, you all and y(')all, you two, you three, you four, you ones and y(ou)'uns/yin(s/z), you lot and other you + NP-PL expressions. The aim of my research is provide an empirically informed description of the forms and functions of 2PL forms in contemporary English. This is done by combining the analysis of corpus data with the literature on 2PL forms as well as the relevant theories on language change.

The results show that there are two main geographically-related trends in the
use of 2PL forms: analytic strategies are preferred in the US, whereas morphological strategies are preferred in the European and Australian varieties of English. As far as the uses are concerned, 2PL forms were observed to perform other functions besides number-marking: they can work as possessive determiners and pronouns, singularreference emphatic markers, and attention-getting devices. The reanalysis of 2PL forms into markers of possession, the semantic bleaching evident in singular-reference 2PL forms, and the instances of phonological reduction observed in the forms y(‘)all and yin(s/z)) are seen as clues to on-going processes of grammaticalization. On the other hand, the significant involvement of 2PL forms in pragmatically charged contexts
(mainly expressing emphasis and politeness) and the similarity of some attentiongetting 2PL forms to pragmatic markers are seen as clues to the pragmaticalization of 2PL forms.

On a theoretical level, 2PL forms offer some insight on the processes of
grammaticalization, pragmaticalization and intersubjectification. In particular, an
alternative view of intersubjectification as a sub-process of pragmaticalization is
proposed. Pragmaticalization, in turn, is seen as a distinct, independent process from grammaticalization. The linguistic evolution of 2PL forms is also described from the 4 perspective of constructionalization (Traugott and Trousdale 2014), which solves the issues related to the definition of the boundaries between grammaticalization, pragmaticalization and intersubjectification. Finally, the strong pragmatic character observed of singular-reference suffixed 2PL forms is used to support the theory of morphopragmatics (Dressler and Barbaresi 2015, 2017).