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Negation of lexical have in conversational English

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The lexical verb have may be negated in a very wide variety of ways, e.g. I don’t have (any) money/I haven’t any money/I haven’t got any money/I have no money/I’ve got no money. Previous research has shown that the choice of negation pattern distinguishes very clearly between American English (AmE) and British English (BrE). American speakers show a 90 per cent preference for I have no money, while British speakers show an overall preference for I haven’t got any money, though they also frequently use the other available patterns.

In this paper I examine the negation of lexical have in corpus data from Great Britain, New Zealand, India, Hong Kong, and Singapore. My initial hypothesis is that the three Outer Circle varieties (Hong Kong, India, Singapore) should tend to follow one or other of the two dominant “models,” that is, they should follow either the American preference or the very different British preference. In fact, the results do not support this hypothesis. The Outer Circle varieties are shown to form a very distinct group of their own, in terms of the negation of lexical have.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of English Language and Literature, University College London, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT, UK. Email:, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 May 2004

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