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Syntax of English and Non-Standard Dialects Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Apr 9th, 2021

Patterns for the formation of reflexive pronouns in non-standard English dialects

Tallerman argues that speakers of non-standard dialects follow certain rules of logic (4). For instance, speakers of northern dialect of British English developed a logic pattern to form reflexive pronouns. More so, it is possible to note that this dialect has more regular pattern to form reflexive pronouns. It is necessary to have a closer look at the formation of reflexive pronouns. Thus, reflexive pronouns denote that somebody will do something on his/her/etc. own (with his/her/etc. own self). Therefore, it is but natural that these pronouns can be formed with the help of possessive pronouns (my, his, her, its, our, your, their) + self. This is why there are such forms as hisself in the northern dialect of British English. Interestingly, there is one more form theirself which is “a gender-neutral singular pronoun”, rather than a plural pronoun as speakers of this dialect often use they and their to refer to a person without pointing at actual gender (Tallerman 10).

It is quite difficult to state that ‘more logical’ is better as language is a very specific entity which is in constant change. However, people tend to look for reason in everything, so when it comes to language, changes should comply with rules of logic. People use their language so it is natural that they should understand it perfectly well and logic helps people in understanding various rules.

Comparative forms of adjectives in non-standard English

The change is also taking place in formation of comparative forms of adjectives. For instance, speakers of some dialects may say

This is an older hat than that one.

This is a funnier hat than that one.

In Standard English comparative form of adjectives is formed with the help of the suffix –er, if the word consists of less than two syllables, and it is formed with the help of the word more if a word consists of more than two syllables. However, in some dialects there is a universal pattern (as in case with tag questions when init is used in all cases) (Tallerman 9). Likewise, speakers use the word more irrespective of the number of syllables. Interestingly, the suffix is still added if the word consists of one or two syllables. Notably, the suffix –er is not added to words containing more than two syllables. Perhaps, speakers of those dialects do not see the point in making long words longer.

Grammatical differences of subject and object in Malay and English

Saya sayang dia

I love he/she

‘I love him/her’

In (1) both the object and the subject are represented by personal pronouns in Malay, whereas in English object is changed (Objective form of the personal pronoun is used him, not he).

Dia saying saya

He/she love I

‘He/she loves me’

In (2) the verb does not change, the same form as in (1) is preserved. Again, the subject and the object are in the same form in Malay, but in English the object is represented by an Objective form of the personal pronoun. Basically, the word order influences greatly the meaning of the phrase as there is no grammatical difference between the object and the subject.

Kawan saya doctor

friend I doctor

‘My friend is a doctor’

In (3) in the English sentence the possessive pronoun my is used, whereas in Malay personal pronoun is put after the noun to denote that an object refers to some person.

Buku ini mahal

book this expensive

‘This book is expensive’

In (4) the demonstrative pronoun this is placed after the noun in Malay, but in English pronouns are always placed before the noun.

Buku-buku itu murah

book-book those/the cheap

‘Those/the books are cheap’

In (5) the demonstrative pronoun those is also placed after the noun in Malay, whereas in English the pronoun is placed before the noun.

Maria membeli sepasang kasut untuk saya

Maria bought pair shoe for I

‘Maria bought a pair of shoes for me’

In (6) the object is represented by the personal pronoun I in Malay, whereas in English it is represented by the Objective form of this personal pronoun, me.

Malay distinguishes the subject for the object with the help of the word order. In English there are different forms for the subject (nominative personal pronouns) and the objects (objective forms of personal pronouns). Therefore, the word order is less important in English.

Work Cited

Tallerman, Maggie. Understanding Syntax (Second Edition). Oxford: University Press, 2005.

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IvyPanda. (2021, April 9). Syntax of English and Non-Standard Dialects. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/syntax-of-english-and-non-standard-dialects/

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"Syntax of English and Non-Standard Dialects." IvyPanda, 9 Apr. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/syntax-of-english-and-non-standard-dialects/.

1. IvyPanda. "Syntax of English and Non-Standard Dialects." April 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/syntax-of-english-and-non-standard-dialects/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Syntax of English and Non-Standard Dialects." April 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/syntax-of-english-and-non-standard-dialects/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Syntax of English and Non-Standard Dialects'. 9 April.

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