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Subject-Operator Disagreement in English Existential Constructions: A Corpus-Based Analysis of American English and Hong Kong English [ALRJournal]
ALRJournal. 2020; 4(3): 1-12 | DOI: 10.14744/alrj.2020.36449

Subject-Operator Disagreement in English Existential Constructions: A Corpus-Based Analysis of American English and Hong Kong English

Chi Wui Ng
Department of English, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Attributed to disparate goals as well as tenets of prescriptive grammar and descriptive grammar, disagreement exists between the two in that prescriptive grammar rules may be violated in descriptive grammar; one concrete instance is subject-operator disagreement in English existential constructions. The present study aims at following up antecedent studies on subject-operator disagreement in English existential constructions produced by native English speakers, identifying any changes in patterns of subject-operator disagreement in recent years, and looking specifically into subject-operator disagreement in English existential constructions in Hong Kong English. A quantitative research design was exploited, and data of American English and Hong Kong English were collected from the Corpus of Contemporary American English and the PolyU Learner English Corpus respectively. It was discovered that subject-operator disagreement in English existential constructions was rare amongst American English speakers yet more frequent amongst speakers of Hong Kong English. Rarity of subject-operator disagreement in English existential constructions produced by American English speakers possesses a disposition to suggest that language use of those speakers is still influenced by the prescriptive rule of subject-operator agreement in English existential constructions while pervasiveness of subject-operator disagreement in English existential constructions produced by speakers of Hong Kong English indicates disparities between those speakersí language use and prescriptive rules.

Keywords: English existential constructions, Subject-operator disagreement, Corpus linguistics, American English, Hong Kong English

Chi Wui Ng. Subject-Operator Disagreement in English Existential Constructions: A Corpus-Based Analysis of American English and Hong Kong English. ALRJournal. 2020; 4(3): 1-12

Corresponding Author: Chi Wui Ng, Hong Kong
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