American Earlier Black English: Morphological and Syntactic Variables

By Edgar W. Schneider | Go to book overview

3.
The linguistic structure of Earlier Black English

3.1. Subject concord of finite main verbs

3.1.1. The forms of Earlier Black English

The use or nonuse of the verbal -s morpheme was analyzed quantitatively and without any reference to individual informants, for this feature is inherently variable in every idiolect. In the study, 1,349 present=tense verbs were recorded and analyzed, that is, the relative proportion of -s- and -0-forms was determined for each of the grammatical persons. In addition, the influence of the preceding and following phonological environments as variable constraints was examined. The preceding contexts distinguished are vowels (V), sibilants (S), other consonants (C), and the three English verbs that have irregular formation patterns of the inflected present tense form, do, have, and say (cf. Fasold 1972: 122). As following environments, vowels (V), consonants (C), and pause (#) are taken into consideration. First, a few illustrative examples from the corpus (underlining is mine in all examples):

(1) How-some-ever I is got 'long first rate I reckon 'cause you know I owns my own place . . . an' has my own meat (Ark 2: 117)

(2) I members de first shoes I ever had. (Mo 6: 122)

(3) where Miss Annie . . . live now. (Miss 6: 61)

-65-

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