A blog dedicated to English grammar, usage and phonetics/phonology, and errors by proficient users (because they teach us more than typos and badly written signs by the semi-literate)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Weak Forms of Function Words
Online discussion forums are a rich source of authentic language data, particularly where linguistically insightful misspellings and other errors are concerned.
In the above extract, the poster (an American) writes would of when he means would have. This misspelling would probably be rather baffling to non-native speakers of English or to speakers of new varieties of English (e.g. Singaporean), but it is very common among ‘traditional’ native speakers such as the British, Canadians and Americans. In these traditional native varieties of English, the function words of and have have identical weak forms — /əv/ — hence the confusion in spelling. However, this misspelling does not arise in Singapore English and other newer varieties of English since they do not generally use weak forms of function words.
Similarly, this extract suggests that the poster (British) rhymes you’re (the spelling needed in the first instance) with your. Again, this is because in British English are has the weak form /ə/ — so both you’re and your are pronounced /jʊə/ or /jɔː/. Likewise, this does not arise in Singapore English since it generally avoids weak forms.