Contact-induced variation in clausal verb complementation: the case of REGRET in World Englishes


  • Raquel P. Romasanta Universidade de Vigo Facultade de Filoloxía e Tradución Campus Universitario, E-36310 Vigo (Spain), +34 986 812 083, Spain



Clausal complementation, Language contact, World-Englishes, Substrate influence, Cognitive effects, Transfer


It has been argued that in language contact situations both transfer processes from the substrate languages (Thomason, 2008) and cognitive effects derived from the language contact situation itself (Schneider, 2012, 2013) can constitute important catalysts for language variation and change. Regarding the verbal complementation system, Steger and Schneider (2012: 172), for example, notice a preference for finite patterns over non-finite structures in World Englishes (WEs), that is, a preference for more explicit forms (hyperclarity and isomorphism). On the contrary, Schneider’s study (2012) does not confirm such a preference for more explicit forms in WEs in the competition between finite and non-finite patterns. This article intends to shed some light on the differences between the distribution of finite and nonfinite complementation patterns in WEs by exploring the complementation profile of the verb REGRET in two metropolitan varieties, British and American English, and comparing them to three geographically distant varieties with different substrate languages, historical contexts, and degrees of language contact: on the one hand, two ESL varieties, Hong Kong English and Nigerian English, and on the other, one ESD variety, Jamaican English, where contact is more pronounced. The main aim of this paper is, therefore, to investigate whether potential differences in the verbal complementation systems between varieties of English are product of cognitive processes derived from the language contact situation, a matter of transfer-induced change, or a combination of both.


Research for this paper was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (grant FFI2014-53930-P) and the Regional Government of Galicia (grant ED431C 2017-50).


Download data is not yet available.


Allsopp, Richard, ed. (1996): Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bernaisch, Tobias (2013): “The verb-complementational profile of offer in Sri Lankan English”. In Magnus Huber and Joybrato Mukherjee, eds., Corpus Linguistics and Variation in English: Focus on Non-Native Englishes: (17 October 2014). Helsinki: Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English.

Biber, Douglas, Stig Johansson, Geoffrey Leech, Susan Conrad and Edward Finegan (1999): Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.

Cuyckens, Hubert, Frauke D'hoedt and Benedikt Szmrecsanyi (2014): “Variability in verb complementation in Late Modern English: Finite vs. non-finite patterns”. In Marianne Hundt, ed., Late Modern English Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 182-204.

Davies, Mark (2012): “Examining recent changes in English: Some methodological issues”. In Terttu Nevalainen and Elizabeth C., eds., The Oxford Handbook of the History of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 263-287.

Davies, Mark and Robert Fuchs (2015): “Expanding horizons in the study of World Englishes with the 1.9 billion words Global Web-based English Corpus (GloWbE)”. English World-Wide, 36(1): 1-28.

De Smet, Hendrik (2008): “Functional motivations in the development of nominal and verbal gerunds in Middle and Early Modern English”. English Language and Linguistics, 12: 55-102.

De Smet, Hendrik (2009): “Analysing reanalysis”. Lingua, 119: 1728-1755.

De Smet, Hendrik (2010): “English ing-clauses and their problems: The structure of grammatical categories”. Linguistics, 48: 1153-1193.

De Smet, Hendrik (2013): Spreading Patterns: Diffusional Change in the English System of Complementation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

De Smet, Hendrik (2014): “Constrained confusion: The gerund/participle distinction in Late Modern English”. In Marianne Hundt, ed., Late Modern English Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 224–238.

Denison, David (2017): “Counterfactuals”. Paper Delivered at Santiago-Leuven-Edinburg Seminar Grammatical Variation and Change in English. KU Leuven, 3 April.

Deshors, Sandra C. (2014): “Towards an identification of prototypical non-native modal constructions in EFL: A corpus-based approach”. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 11(1): 19-50.

Deshors, Sandra C. (2015): “A constructionist approach to gerundial and infinitival verb complementation patterns in native and Hong Kong English varieties”. English Text Construction, 8(2): 207-235.

Deshors, Sandra C. and Stefan Th. Gries (2016): “Profiling verb complementation constructions across New Englishes: A two-step random forest analysis of ing vs. to complements”. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 21(2): 192-218.

Emenanjo, E. Nolue (1987): Elements of Modern Igbo grammar: A Descriptive Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fanego, Teresa (1990): “Finite complement clauses in Shakespeare’s English, Part 2”. Studia Neophilologica, 62: 129–149.

Fanego, Teresa (1992): Infinitive Complements in Shakespeare’s English. Santiago de Compostela: Servizo de Publicacións da Universidade.

Fanego, Teresa (1996a): “The development of gerunds as objects of subject-control verbs in English (1400–1760)”. Diachronica, 13: 29-62.

Fanego, Teresa (1996b): “The gerund in Early Modern English: Evidence from the Helsinki Corpus”. Folia Linguistica Historica, 17: 97-152.

Fanego, Teresa (1996c): “On the historical development of the English retrospective verbs”. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 97: 71-79.

Fanego, Teresa (1998): “Developments in argument linking in Early Modern English gerund phrases”. English Language and Linguistics, 2: 87-119.

Fanego, Teresa (2004a): “On reanalysis and actualization in syntactic change: The rise and development of English verbal gerunds”. Diachronica, 21: 5-55.

Fanego, Teresa (2004b): “Some strategies for coding sentential subjects in English: From exaptation to grammaticalization”. Studies in Language, 28: 321-361.

Fanego, Teresa (2007): “Drift and development of sentential complements in British and American English from 1700 to the Present Day”. In Javier Pérez-Guerra, Dolores González-Álvarez, Jorge Luis Bueno-Alonso and Esperanza Rama-Martínez, eds., “Of Varying Language and Opposing Creed”: New Insights into Late Modern English. Bern: Peter Lang, 161-235.

Fanego, Teresa (2010): “Variation in sentential complements in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English: A processing-based explanation”. In Raymond Hickey, ed., Eighteenth-century English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 200-220.

Fanego, Teresa (2016): “The Great Complement Shift revisited: The constructionalization of ACC-ing gerundives”. Functions of Language, 23(1): 84-119.

Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria (2004): National Policy on Education, 4thedn. Lagos: NERDC Press.

Fischer, Olga (1988): “The rise of the for NP to V construction: An explanation”. In Graham Nixon and John Honey, eds., A Historic Tongue: Studies in English Linguistics in Memory of Barbara Strang. London: Routledge, 67-88.

Fischer, Olga (1989): “The origin and spread of the accusative and infinitive construction in English”. Folia Linguistica Historica, 8: 143-217.

Givón, Thomas (1985): “Iconicity, isomorphism and non-arbitrary coding in syntax”. In John Haiman, ed., Iconicity in Syntax. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 187-219.

Green, Clarence (2017): Patterns and Development in the English Clause System: A Corpus-based Grammatical Overview. Singapore: Springer.

Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard (2016): The Structure of Modern Standard French: A Student Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Huddleston, Rodney, Geoffrey K. Pullum et al. (2002): The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hundt, Marianne (2016): “Error, feature, (incipient) change – or something else altogether? On the role of low-frequency deviant patterns for the description of Englishes”. In Elena Seoane and Cristina Suárez-Gómez, eds., World Englishes: New Theoretical and Methodological Considerations (Varieties of English Around the World G57). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 37-60.

Kachru, Braj B. (1985): “Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: The English language in the outer circle”. In Randolph Quirk and Henry Widdowson, eds., English in the World: Teaching and Learning the Language and Literatures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 11-30.

Loureiro-Porto, Lucía (Forthcoming): ICE vs GloWbE: A critical approach to big data as an alternative source for corpus compilation. World Englishes.

Los, Bettelou (2005): The Rise of the to-infinitive. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mair, Christian (2006): “Nonfinite complement clauses in the nineteenth century: The case of remember”. In Merja Kytö, Mats Rydénand and Erik Smitterberg, eds., Nineteenth-century English: Stability and Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 215-228.

Mair, Christian (2015): “Responses to Davies and Fuchs”. English World-Wide, 36(1): 29-33.

Matthews, Stephen and Virginia Yip (1994): Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar. London/New York: Routledge.

Miller, D. Gary (2002): Nonfinite Structures in Theory and Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mukherjee, Joybrato and Sebastian Hoffman (2006): “Describing verb-complementation profiles of New Englishes: A pilot study of Indian English”. English World-Wide, 27(2): 147-173.

Mukherjee, Joybrato and Stephan Th. Gries (2009): “Collostructional nativisation in New Englishes. Verb-construction associations in the International Corpus of English”. English World-Wide, 30(1): 27-51.

Mukherjee, Joybrato and Marco Schilk (2008): “Verb-complementation profiles across varieties of English”. In Terttu Nevalainen, Irma Taavitsainen, Päivi Pahta and Minna Korhonen, eds., The Dynamics of Linguistic Variation: Corpus Evidence on English Past and Present. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 163-181.

Mukherjee, Joybrato and Marco Schilk (2012): “Exploring variation and change in New Englishes: Looking into the International Corpus of English (ICE) and beyond”. In Terttu Nevalainen and Elizabeth C. Traugott, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the History of English. Oxford: Oxford University, 189-199.

Newman, Paul (2000): The Hausa Language: An Encyclopedic Reference Grammar. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.

Ogunmodimu, Morakinyo (2015): “Language policy in Nigeria: Problems, prospects and perspectives”. International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 5(9): 154-160.

Olavarria de Ersson, Eugenia and Phillip Shaw (2003): “Verb complementation patterns in Indian Standard English”. English World-Wide, 24(2): 137-161.

Ouhalla, Jamal and Ur Shlonsky (eds.) (2002): Themes in Arabic and Hebrew Syntax. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers

Patrick, Peter L. (2004): “Jamaican Creole: Morphology and syntax”. In Bernd

Kortmann and Edgar W. Schneider, eds., A Handbook of Varieties of English. Vol 2: Morphology and Syntax. Berlin: De Gruyter Mounton, 407-438.

Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik (1985): A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.

Rohdenburg, Günter (1995): “On the replacement of finite complement clauses by infinitives in English”. English Studies, 76: 367-388.

Rohdenburg, Günter (1996): “Cognitive complexity and increased grammatical explicitness in English”. Cognitive Linguistics, 7(2): 149-182.

Rohdenburg, Günter (2006): “The role of functional constraints in the evolution of the English complementation system”. In Christiane Dalton-Puffer, Nikolaus Ritt, Herbert Schendl and Dieter Kastovsky, eds., Syntax, Style and Grammatical Norms: English from 1500–2000. Frankfurt: Lang, 143-166.

Rohdenburg, Günter (2014): “On the changing status of that-clauses”. In Marianne Hundt, ed., Late Modern English Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 155-181.

Rudanko, Juhani (1998): Change and Continuity in the English Language: Studies on Complementation over the Past Three Hundred Years. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Rudanko, Juhani (2000): Corpora and Complementation: Tracing Sentential Complementation Patterns of Nouns, Adjectives and Verbs over the Last Three Centuries. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Rudanko, Juhani (2011): Changes in Complementation in British and American English: Corpus-based Studies on Non-finite Complements in Recent English. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Sapir, Edward (1921): Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.

Schneider, Edgar W. (2003): “The dynamics of New Englishes: From identity

construction to dialect birth”. Language, 79(2): 233-281.

Schneider, Edgar W. (2007): Postcolonial English: Varieties around the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schneider, Edgar W. (2012): “Contact-induced change in English worldwide”. In Terttu Nevalainen and Elizabeth C. Traugott, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the History of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 572-581.

Schneider, Edgar W. (2013): “English as a contact language: The ‘New Englishes’”. In Daniel Schreier and Marianne Hundt, eds., English as a Contact Language (Studies in English Language). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 131-148.

Seoane, Elena (2016): “World Englishes today”. In Elena Seoane and Cristina Suárez-Gómez, eds., World Englishes: New Theoretical and Methodological Considerations (Varieties of English around the World G57). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1-15.

Sheehan, Michelle and Jenneke van der Wal (2016): “Do we need abstract case?” In Kyeong-min Kim, Pocholo Umbal, Trevor Block, Queenie Chan, Tanie Cheng, Kelli Finney, Mara Katz, Sophie Nickel-Thompson and Lisa Shorten, eds., Proceedings of the 33rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project, 351-360.

Slobin, Dan (1980): “The repeated path between transparency and opacity in language”. In Ursula Bellugi and M. Studdert-Kennedy, eds., Signed and Spoken Language: Biological Constraints on Linguistic Form. Weinheim: Verlag Chemie, 229-243.

Slobin, Dan (1983): “What the natives have in mind”. In Roger Andersen, ed., Pidginization and Creolization as Language Acquisition. Rowley, MA: Newbury House, 246-253.

Steger, Maria and Edgar Schneider (2012): “Complexity as a function of iconicity: The case of complement clause constructions in New Englishes”. In Bernd Kortmann and Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, eds., Linguistic Complexity: Second Language Acquisition, Indeginization, Contact. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 156-191.

Strang, Barbara M. H. (1970): A History of English. London: Methuen.

Thomason, Sarah G. (2001): Language Contact: An Introduction. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Thomason, Sarah G. (2008): “Social and linguistic factors as predictors of contact-induced change”. Journal of Language Contact, 2: 42-56.

Vosberg, Uwe (2006): Die Große Komplementverschiebung: Außersemantische

Einflüsse auf die Entwicklung satzwertiger Ergänzungen im Neuenglischen. Tübingen: Narr.

Warner, Anthony (1982): Complementation in Middle English and the Methodology of Historical Syntax: A Study of the Wyclifite Sermons. London: Croom Helm.

Williams, Jessica (1987): “Non-native varieties of English: A special case of language acquisition”. English World-Wide, 8(2): 161-199.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Romasanta, Raquel P. 2017. “Contact-Induced Variation in Clausal Verb Complementation: The Case of REGRET in World Englishes”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 30 (December):121-47.