An analysis of irregular verb usage in Lumbee English

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Hatch, Leah Joy. “An analysis of irregular verb usage in Lumbee English.” Project (Master of Education). North Carolina Central U, 1998. 36 pages.


This study used interviews with 38 Lumbee speakers, who were divided into three age categories, to record the frequency of five nonstandard irregular verb categories. These verb categories (regularization, preterit as participle, participle as preterit, unchanged base word, and different irregular forms) are also found in African American English and Appalachian English. Hatch observed that younger speakers use these irregular verb forms less often than older speakers, showing change in the dialect and presaging loss of the dialect as time goes by. She also notes that not all Lumbee speakers use irregular verbs.

Hatch describes the process of listening to 23 taped interviews with Lumbee speakers (the tapes were created by the North Carolina Language and Life Project at North Carolina State University) and coding, on a specially created form, information about the speaker's sentences containing irregular verbs.

Hatch notes as limitations of her study the small sample size (23 participants) and the fact that the interviewees aged 16-23 were in school at the time of the interviews, so their tapes were 30-40 minutes shorter than tapes of the other age groups. Hatch summarizes the significance of her study: “It provides a reference list of Lumbee English irregular verbs which is an avenue in distinguishing developmental errors that are the result of natural cognitive and physical maturation, from dialectal differences, which are culturally correct and acceptable, from disorders that can be targeted for treatment” (p. 23). Readers should be aware that both the thesis and the bibliography contain numerous errors resulting from insufficient proofreading.

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