Laura Abalo-Dieste

Laura Abalo-Dieste is PhD student at Universidade de Vigo and member of the LVTC research group. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on fragmentary constructions as potential proxies for colloquialisation in British English.

“A corpus-based study of colloquialisation strategies in Present-Day British English”

Recent corpus-driven studies of language change have unveiled a shift towards informality in written British English, accounted by several sociocultural and linguistic phenomena. This paper focuses on colloquialisation, defined as the convergence of the norms of spoken and written language, via the spread of features typical of speech into writing. This paper assumes colloquialisation accounts for recent grammatical innovations. To prove this claim, a taxonomy of fifteen linguistic features has been compiled. Their frequencies are retrieved from the British National Corpus (two releases: BNC1994 and BNC2014). The results indicate: first, convergence in the style of speech and writing, reflected in the levelling of proportions of colloquial variants; second, linguistic features that involve predicates pave the way for colloquialisation (e.g. semi-modals), while those related to nominals point to decolloquialisation (e.g. nominalisations). Summing up, this corpus-based investigation validates the use of diachronic and stylistic variables to identify colloquialisation proxies in contemporary English.

Tamara Bouso

Tamara Bouso is a lecturer at the University of the Balearic Islands, and a member of the Research Unit for Variation, Linguistic Change, and Grammaticalization (VLCG). Her research interests include language variation and change, (Diachronic) Construction Grammar, and (de)transitivisation processes in the history of English.

She tried her damnedest to provide a usage-based characterisation of the SOC in contemporary American English”

Little attention has been paid to the English Superlative Object Construction (SOC). The historical grammarians Jespersen (1909–1949) and Poutsma (1914–1929) are the only ones who do touch on the SOC, and they do so in passing, relying on what seem to be the prototypical examples of the construction (e.g. She smiled her prettiest, She worked her hardest). This empirical evidence, though valuable for a first characterisation of the pattern, is insufficient to provide a detailed analysis of the form, function, frequency, and distribution of the SOC in Present Day English. Based on usage-based data from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA, Davies 2008), and using as a heuristic tool the theoretical framework of Construction Grammar (Goldberg 1995, etc.), it will be argued that the SOC qualifies as an intensifying comparative construction. Despite being low frequent and revealing a set of highly entrenched, lexicalized units (e.g. do [X] best, try [X] best, look [X] best, etc.), the SOC will be shown to be relatively productive, especially in informal registers (e.g. blogs and magazines) where the construction can be easily accommodated to serve emotive, conative, and phatic functions.


Davies, Mark. 2008. The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). Available online at
Goldberg, Adele E. 1995. Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jespersen, Otto. 1909–1949. A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles. 7 Volumes. Copenhagen: Munksgaard. Reprint, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1961.
Poutsma, Hendrik. 1914–1929. A Grammar of Late Modern English: For the Use of Continental, Especially Dutch, Students. 2 Parts. 7 Volumes. Groningen: P. Noordhoff.

Yolanda Joy Calvo Benzies

Yolanda Joy Calvo Benzies is a lecturer at the University of the Balearic Islands where she teaches English for Tourism. Her main research interests are the teaching of spoken English, ESP and the use of ICTs in the language classroom. She has published several articles in refereed journals (RAEL, Human Review, RAEI, Language Value, Odisea) and book chapters in Peter Lang, Springer, and Macmillan.

“‘Hello girlsss 😊,’ ‘It’s soooo beautiful 😍’ ‘Yes yes yes. *And how much does it costs? 💶’. Using WhatsApp in the Tourism ESP classroom: A linguistic analysis and didactic proposal”

In this paper, we will analyse the language used on WhatsApp by a group of Tourism ESP students while planning a once-in-a-life-time-trip. Attention will be paid to: a) text-messaging features (e.g., abbreviated forms, subject/vowel/consonant deletion, punctuation deletion or overuse), b) colloquialisms and informal ways of addressing someone, and, c) emojis, emoticons and GIFs. The results indicate these learners have perfectly adapted their language to the linguistic styles and formats of writing on social networks. The text-messaging features registered most frequently were overuse of sounds and both punctuation overuse and deletion. Furthermore, some instances of addressers like bro, darling, friend, bbys or girls were also recorded. Finally, their messages were constantly accompanied by emojis, which were mainly used as contextual cues or to express different emotions like happiness, excitement, or surprise. We will conclude our paper by providing and describing some ideas for using social networks in the language classroom.

Noelia Castro-Chao

Noelia Castro-Chao is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and a member of the Research Unit for Variation, Linguistic Change, and Grammaticalization (VLCG). Her main research interests are English historical syntax and language variation and change from the perspective of Construction Grammar.

“Modelling linguistic loss: A case study from the domain of clausal complementation”

Research on language change has formulated robust generalizations on the processes leading to the emergence of linguistic elements; however, the processes leading to their obsolescence and loss have hitherto received much less attention. Work by Kranich & Breban (2021: 1), as also earlier by Rudnicka (2019), constitutes an attempt to remedy this state of affairs by putting forward new methods for the study and understanding of linguistic loss. My presentation will contribute to this field by addressing the development of the formally adverbial subordinators till/until into complementizers during the Late Middle English and Early Modern English periods. Their status as complementizers was, however, short-lived, for in the course of Late Modern English till/until-clauses ceased to be found and were replaced by competing patterns with to-infinitives and for…to-infinitives. The talk concludes by discussing the motivations and broader implications of this process of loss of till/until-complements.


Kranich, Svenja & Tine Breban (eds.). 2021. Lost in change: Causes and processes in the loss of grammatical elements and constructions. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Rudnicka, Karolina. 2019. The statistics of obsolescence: Purpose subordinators in Late Modern English. Freiburg: Rombach.

Iria de-Dios-Flores

I am a psycholinguist fascinated by NLP. Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher at the USC Center for Intelligent Technologies (CiTIUS) and a member of the research unit Cognitive Processes and Behavior. My research is concerned with sentence processing and more specifically, linguistic dependencies, linguistic illusions, and the relationship between grammar and parsing. Lately, I got deeply interested in evaluating the linguistic capabilities of artificial language models.

“Experimenting with control verbs. From human sentence processing to artificial language models”

In this talk, I will present various psycholinguistic and computational experiments using control constructions such as (1), which involve an interpretative anaphoric relation between the null subject of the non-finite clause and one of the antecedents in the main clause: the subject or the object. What is interesting is that whether it is one or the other depends on certain lexico-semantic properties of the main clause verbs. For instance, promise is a subject control verb and order is an object control verb. Being at the interface between semantics and morphosyntax, these structures will be shown to be an interesting testing ground for analyzing the behavior of the human parser as well as for testing the linguistic capabilities of artificial language models during the resolution of complex long-distance dependencies.

Heidi Douglas

Heidi has a BA Honors in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds (UK) and an MA in Advanced English Studies from the University of Vigo. She is now beginning her PhD studies into English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), focusing on the attitudes of teachers and students in Spain towards ELF.

“Attitudes towards English as a Lingua Franca in Spain: A proposal”

In this presentation I provide an overview of the initial plans for my PhD investigation, building on a previous MA thesis. The general aim of the PhD is to study the attitudes of English teachers and students towards English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) in Spain, including universities and other teaching environments, as well as the resources available to teach ELF. Even if research on English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) has grown exponentially over the last 30 years, only recently has the impact of ELF on English language teaching been discussed, and studies on the topic include educational contexts in Asia and the Middle East almost exclusively. Starting with a brief summary of my MA results, I will then discuss specific areas of focus, the scope of the research, and the research methods, in the hope to gain insight and feedback.

Yolanda Fernández-Pena

Yolanda Fernández-Pena is Lecturer at the University of Vigo (Spain). Yolanda’s research focuses on the linguistic variation of verb number agreement with complex collective subjects, the characterisation of fragmentary utterances and the provision of agreement morphology and overt subjects in L2 English.

“Modelling the constructionalisation of why-fragments in recent diachrony”

This paper focuses on the constructionalisation of why-fragments, such as (1)-(3), in contemporary British English. The interest on these fragmentary utterances stems from the fact that, in addition to the their canonical meaning (i.e. that denoted by the equivalent complete why-question), they may convey two additional or ‘enriched’ interpretations: (i) a modal nuance, as in (1) (~‘Why should we deal with why-fragments once more?’) and (ii) a uniqueness interpretation, as in (2) (~’Why why-fragments and not another type of fragments?’). Based on data from the BNC1994 DS and Spoken BNC2014, a regression analysis confirmed an incipient level of constructionalisation of why-fragments: not only is their enriched interpretation more frequent in Spoken BNC2014 compared to BNC1994 DS but it is also associated with novel forms in the construction (i.e. with forms that differ from those of the correlates in the antecedent site, as in (4)).

  1. Why deal with why-fragments once more?
  2. Why this type of fragments again?
  3. Why not deal with Mad Magazine Sentences?
  4. A: round two’s coming [on one week’s time]PP
    B: why [not now]AdvP?

Claudia de la Iglesia Sanjuán

Claudia de la Iglesia Sanjuán holds a BA in Foreign Languages and an MA in advanced English studies. She is working on her PhD on accent distinction and language attitudes towards varieties of English. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, phonetics and phonology.

“Accent identification by Spanish university students of English”

This paper focuses on the ability of Spanish university students of English to identify six of its accents, namely Indian English (IndE), African American English (AAE), Jamaican English (JamE), Chicano English (ChcE), General British (GenBr) and General American (GenAm). The research questions addressed are two, 1) whether the students can successfully identify the two best-known accents – GenBr and GenAm – and four lesser-known accents – IndE, AAE, JamE, and ChcE –, and 2) whether there are any factors that wield some influence in their identification process. In order to answer those questions, I conducted an experiment which comprised a survey and a Verbal-Guise Technique in which the participants had to listen to six recordings of speakers of each accent and answer six multiple choice questions. The results show that GenBr, GenAm, AAE and IndE are more easily recognisable, and that the more proficient in English a participant is, the greater their success at identifying the accents. In other words, formal training in English language results in a higher capability to distinguish the phonological features of the different varieties of English.

David Lorenz

David Lorenz is a post-doctoral lecturer and researcher in English Linguistics at Universität Rostock, Germany. His main research interests are in cognitive approaches to grammar, mental representations of linguistic structures, and the connection of synchronic language use and diachronic change. The present paper is part of his current research project on synchronic-cognitive approaches to grammaticalization and constructionalization.

Could be, might be, maybe – potential for grammaticalization and potential for reduction”

This study investigates cases of potential grammaticalization, testing the synchronic connection of reanalysis and morphophonological reduction. In epistemic phrases of the type (it) could/might be, rates of omission of it are compared between different contexts. They are found to be highest in ‘critical contexts’ for grammaticalization, where the phrase can be reanalyzed as an epistemic adverbial, e.g. (It) could be this is correct (compare Maybe this is correct). This suggests that the connection between formal reduction and functional/structural aspects of grammaticalization holds even in the absence of diachronic change and irrespective of item frequency. The finding is further tested with a sentence shadowing experiment, in which participants repeat recorded input sentences. Shadowers may ‘restore’ missing elements or delete existing ones, e.g. the subject pronoun in ∅/it could be. The results confirm the corpus findings only partly, but also provide a more detailed view of gradient reduction.

Eva Piñeiro

Eva Piñeiro is currently working as teacher of English at the Seville School of Languages. Her main area of research is language contact and the use of loanwords in the mass media of the United States. She will shortly defend her PhD dissertation at the University of Santiago.

“Technology-related Anglicisms in the Hispanic digital press of the U.S.”

The objective of this corpus-based study is to explore a case of language contact between English and Spanish by focusing on the use of lexical anglicisms in the Hispanic digital press of the Northeast of the United States, with special attention to the field of technology. A total of 3,000 anglicisms have been analyzed and entered into a dataset according to a number of parameters, such as the type of borrowing, semantic field, frequency, inclusion in reference dictionaries, dictionaries of anglicisms and general corpora. The main features of technology-related anglicisms are examined, together with their socio-linguistic implications and their scope at the national and international level. Ultimately, the results of this paper will be considered with reference to other similar studies which have previously focused on the use of anglicisms in other Spanish-speaking areas around the world.

Pablo Vilas Santamaría

Pablo Vilas Santamaría has a BA in Foreign Languages and an MA in in Secondary School and Language Education. He currently holds a 3-year predoctoral contract and is writing his PhD on clausal verb complementation in World Englishes, under the supervision of Elena Seoane (UVigo) and Cristina Suárez-Gómez (UIB).

“A PhD in the making: Non-categorical morphosyntactic variation in World Englishes”

In this presentation I provide an overview of my PhD research, including methodological challenges and future steps. The general aim is to examine the intra- and extralinguistic factors that determine non-categorical variability in the clausal complementation patterns of the verb ADMIT in Inner Circle (IC) and Outer Circle (OC) varieties of English (e.g., She admits to stealing the bag or She admits that she stole the bag). With data from GloWbE, I compare the clausal complementation patterns of ADMIT in American and British English, and in Indian and Pakistani English. The selection and classification of data, now in process, will be central to the discussion, since from it stem the aforementioned challenges, concerning especially syntactic and semantic ambiguity. Some preliminary results regarding the potential predictors of syntactic variability, such as subject coreferentiality, will also be discussed, as well as future steps to hopefully shed light on the determinants of morphosyntactic variation in IC and OC varieties.