Quantitative data as a clue to auxiliary contraction processes

Laurel MacKenzie


This paper is a quantitative corpus study of the variable contraction of English auxiliaries (e.g. John has ~ Johns been there all day). I examine auxiliaries after non-pronoun subjects, and find the following. First, auxiliaries often surface in an intermediate form, one which loses its initial consonant, but retains a reduced vowel (e.g. [?z] for has). After proposing an analysis of these forms, I examine the effect of subject weight on contraction, finding that contraction occurs less often after longer subjects. Finally, I discuss the implications of these findings for where contraction must be situated in the grammar.

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