1st Edition

Reconciling Synchrony, Diachrony and Usage in Verb Number Agreement with Complex Collective Subjects

By Yolanda Fernández-Pena Copyright 2020
    226 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    226 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    *Winner of AEDEAN Leocadio Martín Mingorance Book Award on Theoretical and Applied English Linguistics (2021)*

    *Winner of ESLA Guadalupe Aguado Research Award for Young Researchers (2022)*

    *Winner of ESSE Book Award 2022 for Young Researchers in the category 'English Language and Linguistics*

    This book uses corpus-based methodologies to investigate the wide variety of factors behind verb number agreement with complex collective noun phrases in English.

    The literature on collective nouns and their agreement patterns spans an array of disciplines and approaches. However, little of the research conducted to date has focused on the influence of of-dependents on verb number with relational collective nouns, as in examples such as a bunch of or a group of. Drawing on data from two case studies – one based on the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA), and the other on the British National Corpus (BNC) and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) – Fernández-Pena uses statistical modelling to unpack the different morphological, syntactic, semantic and lexical dimensions of the variables affecting verb number agreement with complex collective noun phrases in English. This multidimensional analysis of the significance of of-dependents in the patterning and contemporary usage of collective nouns offers new insight into and understanding of both synchronic variation and diachronic change.

    This book is an essential read for scholars of English language variation and change, historical linguistics, corpus linguistics, and usage-based approaches to the study of language.

    1. Introduction  2. Complex collective subjects and verb number agreement in English: State of the art  3. Insights from diachrony: Reconciling form and meaning  4. Modelling variation in verb number agreement with complex collective subjects in Present-Day English  5. Concluding remarks and prospects for future research


    Yolanda Fernández-Pena is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English, French and German at the University of Vigo, Spain, and a member of the Language Variation and Textual Categorisation (LVTC) research group. She has published in international peer-reviewed journals, such as Corpora, Atlantis, RAEL: Revista Electrónica de Lingüística Aplicada and Varieng.

    "[Fernández-Pena's] contribution shows that the microscopic examination of a large number of possibly-interacting constraints at work in a very circumscribed domain may actually cast light on fundamental aspects of the general functioning of grammar...this is a very fine piece of scholarly work..." - Carlos Acuña Fariña, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, NEXUS

    "Fernández-Pena’s monograph on verb agreement with complex collective nouns is a welcome contribution to English linguistics. It presents new findings from a niche that has previously been overlooked...The findings will certainly inspire future studies in related fields." - Magnus Levin, Linnaeus University, Sweden

    "This book is an essential read for anyone interested in English binominals and agreement patterns. More generally, it will be of interest to students and researchers working in the field of language variation and change, corpus linguistics, and usage-based approaches to the study of language." - Lotte Sommerer, University of Freiburg, Germany