20 March 2012

Plural -s

I am currently doing some analysis of the grammar of Brunei English, based on the recordings of 53 UBD undergraduates (38 female and 15 male) being interviewed by me for 5 minutes each, a total of nearly 4.5 hours of speech.

One feature I have found (as expected) is variable usage of the plural -s suffix on nouns. Sometimes, -s is found when standard English would not have it, and at other times it is absent when it would be expected in standard English.

However, these cases are actually quite rare. In the 20 interviews I have analysed so far, there 249 cases where the -s suffix appears as expected, 13 cases where -s occurs unexpectedly, and just 8 cases where it is omitted in an environment where it would normally occur in standard usage. This means that over 90% of the usage is standard.

In fact, the non-standard instances can mostly be grouped into three categories:
  • occurrance of -s on logically plural nouns, such as furnitures and informations
  • omission of -s after one of, such as 'one of my brother' and 'one of the language'
  • occurrence of -s on the end of in-law, such as 'my brother-in-laws' (rather than the standard 'brothers-in-law')
I will discuss each of these separately in subsequent posts.