This study offers an account of the Present Perfect and its usage in worldwide varieties of English. It is based on corpus data from the International Corpus of English (ICE), which is assessed both quantitatively and qualitatively. It follows up on two broad desiderata in Present Perfect research, namely (i) to extend the knowledge of this grammatical area beyond the traditional British/American English paradigm, and (ii) to provide a systematic account of language-external effects such as modes of discourse, macro-genres and text categories.
Occurrences of the Present Perfect are automatically extracted from part-of-speech tagged corpus files. Representative samples of the occurrences are then manually annotated for various factors (such as semantics, Aktionsart, temporal adverbials, sentence type, preceding tense, etc.) so that the distributions and the relative importance of these factors can be analyzed. In addition, the impact of alternative (non-standard) surface forms that may express a Present Perfect notion is considered.
Measures of similarity between the various varieties of English under investigation are established (e.g. with the help of multidimensional aggregational methods such as cluster analyses and phylogenetic networks) and findings are related to a number of general models of World Englishes, whose descriptive adequacy for this particular area of grammar is tested.
In Early Modern English, double comparatives were often encountered in both spoken and written language. The present article investigates the redundantly marked comparative "worser" in relation to its irregular, but etymologically justified, counterpart "worse". My aim is to examine the diachronic development of the form as well as its distribution in the written language of the 16th and 17th centuries. Two detailed corpus studies are used to reveal the set of parameters underlying the variation between "worse" and "worser", which include system congruity, semantics, and standardization effects. However, the focus here is on the tendency to maintain an alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables, known as the Principle of Rhythmic Alternation. This prosodic principle (which has been argued to be particularly influential in English) turns out to be responsible for most of the results obtained in the analysis of the corpus data.
The present contribution investigates the motivations underlying a tendency for phonological phrases in English to start with upbeats, i.e., unstressed syllables. The empirical part consists of two case studies based on a corpus of Early Modern English prose, and focusing on the variable use of the preposition _of_ introducing nominal complements of _(un)worthy_ and objects of gerunds, respectively. The counts provide quantified evidence indicating that the upbeat phenomenon is not only a corollary of the need for a function word signaling the beginning of a new phrase, but also a rhythmically motivated preference that exerts an influence on the presence or absence of a grammatical marker in phrase onsets. The phonological requirement for an upbeat thus has consequences for the syntactic makeup of phrases. In light of such empirical facts, it is argued that models of grammar conceptualizing the syntax-phonology interface as a unidirectional mapping are not tenable.