"I've always spoke(n) like this, you see": Participle leveling in three corpora of English


Some English verbs use distinct forms for the preterite (I broke the door) and the past participle (I’ve broken the door). These verbs may variably show paradigm leveling, where the preterite form is used in place of the participle (I’ve broke the door). We contribute the first detailed variationist study of participle leveling by investigating the phenomenon in three corpora: Switchboard, a corpus of 10-minute telephone conversations between American English speakers (Godfrey & Holliman 1997); the Philadelphia Neighborhood Corpus, a corpus of sociolinguistic interviews with Philadelphians (Labov & Rosenfelder 2011); and the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English, a corpus of sociolinguistic interviews with residents of the North East of England (Corrigan et al. 2012). We find a striking degree of similarity between the three corpora in the constraints on variation. The general picture is of socially-evaluated variation affected by both syntactic and paradigmatic factors.

NWAV 48, University of Oregon (poster)