Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/17710
Title: Copula deletion in Colloquial Singapore English
Authors: CHANG QIZHONG
Keywords: Copula, deletion, colloqial, singapore, english, optional
Issue Date: 7-Aug-2009
Source: CHANG QIZHONG (2009-08-07). Copula deletion in Colloquial Singapore English. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In this thesis, we aim to show the distribution and behaviour of the copula in Colloquial Singapore English (CSE). The copula is omitted in several contexts in CSE; however, its omission is often described as `random¿ or `optional¿ in the literature. Copula deletion in CSE is a probabilistic phenomenon (i.e. there is no one context where copula deletion is obligatory). We show that Labov¿s account of copula deletion in Black English Vernacular (BEV) ¿ which is based on the assumption that deletion is an extension of the process of copula contraction in an ordered set of phonological rules ¿ does not perfectly explain all the CSE facts. We then turn to compare CSE with one of its substrate languages, Chinese, in terms of copula behaviour. Ho (1993) shows the similarities between Chinese and CSE in terms of copular constructions and claims that Chinese has a profound influence on CSE. However, the nature of this influence is not clear. We show that the influence from Chinese is due to the transfer of certain language properties and the interaction of copula functions. We see that Chinese influence on CSE is responsible for transferring the property of Topic Prominence to CSE. Also, the function of the copula in Chinese to denote Emphasis, Focus and Contrast is transferred to CSE. The strongest evidence for this is Copula Floating in CSE, which is identical to what is found in Chinese. Lastly, the copula function of being a morphological feature carrier is not present in Chinese; likewise, it is not always present in CSE. We show that the copula¿s behavior in CSE is not the result of simply mimicking either StdE or Chinese on the surface; instead, it is determined by the feature strengths of a set of `universal¿ copula functions. Inherent in our characterization of the copula¿s functions in language is a refutation of the hypothesis that the copula is semantically empty. We suggest that the copula is simply a feature carrier; however, it does not only carry features that we are used to (such as tense, number and person), it also carries features such as Affirmation, Negation, Emphasis, Focus and Contrast. We argue that copula deletion is not something unique to CSE, nor should it always be a natural conclusion for language contact varieties. Copula Deletion will always be a probabilistic, non-absolute phenomenon in CSE because of the conflict between influence from the superstrate and the substrate, as well as natural variation in the language.
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/17710
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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