Patterns of Verbal -s in the Varieties of English Today

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The occurrence of the verbal ending -s with non-3rd person singular subjects is a frequent phenomenon in varieties of English worldwide. It has been attested to fulfil a wide range of functions in addition to its Standard English use as a person-number marker. This paper is to characterize the various factors which condition the use of nonstandard verbal -s. It will discuss their areal distribution and give an account of the frequency with which each of the conditioning factors is attested. Based on this characterization, a group of core constraints will be isolated, the specific character of which will be shown to have facilitated their stability, endurance and spread.

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