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At 03:56 PM 3/10/99 GMT+0, And Rosta wrote:
>Tim Smith [quotes from a series of posts]:
>> [snip]
>
>As I mentioned in a couple of posts, I have been working on a British
>version of the non-creole version of Neo-Anglic. (I'll refer to it as
>"Breersh", because if you say that in a contemporary English English
>accent it sounds like it does in Breersh. [bRe:S], roughly.)
>
>In my case I have the phonology very thoroughly worked out, and am
>moving on to clause structure, dealing with similar issues and ideas
>to you. I have been assuming that the phonology pretty much runs its
>own course without external influence, and the phonological changes,
>plus the inherent momentum of the evolution of the grammar will lead
>the grammar to evolve in certain directions, but I also assume that
>in the area of syntax influence from America might influence Breersh
>syntax, both inhibiting and exacerbating certain changes, and also
>being a source of innovation. In lexis it would be even more a source
>of innovation, but I've not got to this yet. I have therefore of late
>been looking around to see whether anyone has an American counterpart
>of Breersh, in order for me to assess the likely nature of its
>influences on Breersh.

I'm not sure that what I have in mind for Neo-Anglic would count as an
"American counterpart" to your Breersh.  Even taking contemporary standard
English rather than a creole as a starting point, I wasn't thinking of this
as specifically American.  To the extent that I've thought at all about the
history leading to Neo-Anglic (which, as you can see, isn't much so far), my
thinking was that this is a development not from American English but from a
sort of "generic English" that has become a global lingua franca.  (I'm
assuming here that, unless some natural or man-made disaster brings about
the collapse of "civilization as we know it", the trend that has already
made English the lingua franca of the Internet, scientific conferences,
etc., will continue unabated for at least the next century or so.)  This
"world English" will resemble many regional lingua francas, such as Swahili
and Bahasa Indonesia, in that the great majority of its speakers will not be
native speakers but people who have learned it as a second language.  Thus
there will be a very large substrate influence from a tremendous variety of
different substrate languages, as well as a lot of "internal substrate"
influence from many non-standard varieties (regional, ethnic, etc.) of
English.  Also, to the extent that there is a "standard", it will probably
be a mix of American and British standards (American standard meaning the
vaguely Midwestern form used by network newscasters, and British standard
meaning RP).

In thinking about the grammar and phonology of Neo-Anglic so far, there are
really only three substrates that I've taken into account (and those only
rather vaguely): African-American Vernacular English, Southern American
English, and Jamaican English.  But there will have to be many more to make
it convincing.  As I mentioned in my reply to Matt's post, Indian English
(which I unfortunately don't know much about) should be a major influence,
since India probably accounts for the largest single bloc of non-native
English speakers.

>> But I think I had in mind all
>> along that this was just the beginning, and that once I had the grammar
>> down I'd start introducing more sound changes.
>
>First, I think that might be slightly backwards. Sound changes
>generally proceed impervious to grammar, but not vice versa, since
>sound change can erode old grammatically-significant contrasts and even
>introduce new ones.

You're probably right.  But the fact is that sound changes (and phonology in
general, for that matter) are not an area that I'm really well-versed in.
I've always been much more interested in grammar than in phonology.
Therefore my tendency is to decide what kind of grammar I want, and then see
if I can figure out what sound changes would tend to push the language in
that direction, rather than vice versa.

>Second, I imagine you can get a long way just be extrapolating from
>the current situation, provided you have an idea of the social
>history (i.e. the diachronic sociolinguistics) of Neo-Anglic. (I'm
>talking about the noncreole version here.) For example, is Neo-Anglic
>rhotic? Acrolectal AmE currently is, in the main, [cf. famous studies
>by Labov] while basilectal AAVE isn't: which is going to win?

In what I've written so far, I've assumed that it's non-rhotic, but that's
mainly because of the assumption that it was starting from a creole.  Every
English-based creole that I know anything about is non-rhotic, which
probably means that syllable-final /r/ is unusual cross-linguistically --
which in turn probably means that most of the "external substrate"
influences on Neo-Anglic will also be non-rhotic.  Given two "superstrates"
(acrolectal AmE and RP), one rhotic and one non-, I suspect that the
non-rhotic substrate influences will win out.  (But then I also have an
esthetic bias on this: even though I speak a rhotic dialect myself, I've
always sort of thought that, other things being equal, the non-rhotic
dialects "sound better".  Perhaps this is because I think of the American
retroflex /r/ as kind of an ugly sound, and I find other kinds of /r/
(alveolar trill or tap, uvular fricative) rather hard to pronounce except
before a vowel. Therefore all my conlangs so far lack syllable-final /r/.)

>>[snip my stuff about gender]
>
>Breersh has been through this issue. Ignoring the not-yet-known
>influences from "Maircan" (/RmEkn/, American), I think it has
>currently evolved to a stage where /xe^m/ (^ = breve), /x@/ and
>/dE^m/ (him, her, them) have their contemporary values, except that
>/dE^m/ can be used for singular human even when the sex is known.
>"He", "she" and "they" have reflexes in Breersh as (let us say, to
>please John Cowan) finite pronominal clitics. Each is compatible with
>a full NP or pronominal subject, but there are certain cooccurence
>restrictions prohibiting:
>
>    /xe^m/ + reflex of "she"
>    /x@/ + reflex of "he"
>    /dE^m/ + reflex of "she" or "he"
>
>/ji/ and /dE^m/ (you, them) also have singular and plural
>counterparts:
>
>    SG         PL
>    /jyn/      /j'ilO/   [' = unpredictable stress]
>    /dE^myn/   /dE^mlO/

This sounds plausible to me.

>> Using a creole as a starting point eliminated all this; since NO creoles,
>> AFAIK, have grammatical gender, I could just take it as given that this was
>> not an issue.
>
>HIm vs HER, though, is not really grammatical gender. It's just two
>pronouns semantically differentiated by the sex of the referent.

You're right.  What I really meant was that no creole that I'm aware of
makes the "him" vs. "her" vs. "it" distinction at all.  They all just have a
single third-person pronoun.

BTW, it sounds like you have a much better idea of the sociolinguistic,
cultural and historical background of Breersh than I do for Neo-Anglic.  I'd
be interested in hearing something about it.

-------------------------------------------------
Tim Smith
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Get your facts first and then you can distort them as you please.
- Mark Twain