Erlewine, Michael Yoshitaka, 2018.
“A syntactic universal in a contact language: The story of Singlish already.”
Manuscript, National University of Singapore.
This paper investigates the syntax and semantics of Singlish (Colloquial Singapore English) sentence-final already and its development in the contact ecology of Singapore. Bao 2005 identifies the Mandarin Chinese sentence-final particle le as one substrate source which lends its syntax and semantics to Singlish already. I follow and refine this view, and further show that the syntax of already differs subtly from that of its substrate cognates: Singlish sentence-final already unambiguously scopes over the entire clause, whereas its substrate cognate particles le/liau/laa are in a clause-medial position. I propose that this difference can be explained through a process of reanalysis forced by the interaction of a syntactic universal, the Final-over-Final Constraint, together with independent differences between Singlish and its substrate Chinese languages.