Postcolonial Literature and World Englishes: A Corpus-Based Approach of Modes of Representation of the Non-Standard in Writing
Keywords:Non-standardised Varieties, Representation of Language in Literature
The present study investigates the representation of non-standardised varieties of English in literary prose texts. This is achieved by creating and annotating a corpus of literary texts from Scotland, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. The analysis addresses two major topics. Firstly, the extent of representation reveals clearly distinct feature profiles across regions, coupled with varying feature densities. Feature profiles are also relevant to individual characters, as certain traits such as social status, ethnicity, or age can be signalled by linguistic means. The second topic, accuracy of representation, compares the features observed in literary texts with descriptions of the actual varieties, and suggests that representations of varieties may differ from their real-life models in the sense that highly frequent features may be absent from texts, while less frequent but more emblematic ones, or even invented ones, may be used by authors to render a variety of English in their texts.