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date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The present chapter provides a comparative study of canonical tag questions in Hong Kong, Indian, and Singapore English on the basis of their respective spoken components of the International Corpus of English (ICE). These three postcolonial Asian Englishes represent different phases in the evolutionary model of variety-formation proposed by Schneider (2003, 2007). The present-day manifestation of their shared historical input variety British English is used as a basis of comparison. Differences across these four varieties in terms of forms, functions, and frequencies of tag questions are described and interpreted from a variational-pragmatic perspective. The findings reveal considerable intervarietal differences, with the variety that has furthest progressed in Schneider’s model, Singapore English, displaying preferences that diverge markedly from the patterns of use in British English. This suggests that a process of ‘pragmatic nativization’—in parallel to well-documented processes of structural nativization—can be observed in the development of New Englishes.

Keywords: postcolonial Asian Englishes, corpus linguistics, tag questions, variational pragmatics, pragmatic nativization, particles

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