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Journal Articles English World-Wide Year : 2023

Necessity modal development in Singapore English


Spoken in a multilingual environment characterised by continuous contacts with other languages, Singapore English (SgE) is a singular object of study. Its modal system has also been developing in independent ways compared to inner-circle varieties, e.g. British English, its historical ancestor. Different approaches have attempted to explain such developments, including the substratist and the grammaticalisation approaches. The present paper explores both these approaches with the aim of examining the role that they may have in the development of the (semi-)modal verbs of necessity in SgE. Using some corpus analysis conducted on informal data, it will be shown why the substratist approach does not seem sufficient to explain the relatively frequent non-epistemic uses of must in SgE. It will be discussed how SgE must could be instead replicating older dynamic uses, typical of Middle English times (1100–1500 CE), according to a process known as replica grammaticalisation as recapitulation (Ziegeler 2014).


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hal-03988751 , version 1 (14-02-2023)



Carmelo Alessandro Basile. Necessity modal development in Singapore English: An investigation of substratist and contact-grammaticalisation approaches. English World-Wide, 2023, 44 (2), ⟨10.1075/eww.22019.bas⟩. ⟨hal-03988751⟩
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