Exploring a recent grammatical change : A corpus-based investigation of the core modals will and shall and the semi-modal BE going to in newspapers and blogs written by Swedes
Abstract: The aim of this study is to investigate how the modal auxiliaries will and shall and the semi-modal BE going to are used to express futurity by individuals whose first language is Swedish. The study is corpus based, and the corpora used in this study consist of Swedish newspapers in English (SWENC) and material from blogs which are written in English by Swedes (BESC). These are compared with the press sub-corpora in F-LOB (the Freiburg-LOB Corpus of British English) and Frown (the Freiburg-Brown corpus of American English), which represent British and American varieties of English. The method is quantitative and the results are mainly presented in frequencies. The results show that all of the modals are used in SWENC and BESC. The core modal will is the most frequently used modal in all of the corpora and sub-corpora. The semi-modal BE going to is most frequently used in BESC and the second core modal shall is most frequent in SWENC. However, qualitative examination of shall revealed that the writers in SWENC use the modal differently from how it is used in F-LOB Press. This study shows evidence of variation in use of the modals which express futurity. The fact that the semi-modal BE going to exists in the Swedish material indicates that the process of grammaticalization continues in the Swedish form of English.
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