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Verbal Zero

  • Laura RuppEmail author
  • David Britain
Chapter

Abstract

In Chapter  2 we probe verbal zero, which is the opposite of verbal –s: the absence of –s in the 3rd sing. (e.g. the boy walk_). We show that in both historical and contemporary uses, verbal zero typically emerges in varieties of English that have experienced language contact (e.g. English varieties in East Anglia and Tristan da Cunha, African American Vernacular English, and English as a Lingua Franca). We identify a new constraint on verbal zero which is the reverse of the Northern Subject Rule (NSR) and which we call the East Anglian Subject Rule (EASR). Specifically, in the EASR, the use of the morpheme –s is favoured by pronouns over nouns. We provide a formal syntactic account of the EASR and conclude that in verbal zero varieties, –s is a 3rd sg. agreement that has been imposed by standardisation.

Keywords

Verbal zero Language contact The East Anglian Subject Rule (EASR) East Anglia Tristan da Cunha African American Vernacular English English as a Lingua Franca Generative syntax 

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of HumanitiesVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of EnglishUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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