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

Raquel P. Romasanta


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.


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


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