The present perfect in Nigerian English

Valentin Werner, Robert FUCHS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article offers an analysis of present perfect (PP) use in Nigerian English (NigE), based on the Nigerian component of the International Corpus of English (ICE). First, we analyze variable contexts with the Simple Past (PT; determined by temporally specified contexts) as one of the main competitors of the PP, and thus assess the PP-friendliness of NigE in contrast to other varieties. We further provide an alternative measure of PP-friendliness and test register effects in terms of normalized and relative PP and PT frequencies. Our results indicate an overall reduced PP-friendliness of NigE and show internal variability in terms of PP frequencies in different variable contexts. As regards register effects, NigE does not show less variability of PP frequencies compared to British English (BrE). However, the distribution of the PP across registers in NigE does not follow the British pattern where certain registers are particularly PP-friendly. We discuss potential determining factors of the low frequency of the PP in NigE, and conclude that neither substrate influence nor general learning mechanisms on their own can comprehensively account for it. Instead, we suggest that historical influence from Irish and perhaps (at a later point) American English, in conjunction with general learning mechanisms, may be responsible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-153
Number of pages25
JournalEnglish Language and Linguistics
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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