R.Some posts before, you asked me to provide examples of different types concord that might possibly be characterisitc of AusE. Here they are (copied from Newbrook, 2001*)
As noted, AusE (and New Zealand English), in both print and speech, permits
both singular and plural concord with the names of sports teams. English
English permits only plural concord here (though singular concord is common
with the same words understood as club names). See Newbrook (1992: 5–6,
1993: 54); and see below on AmE. The usage is associated with the Australian
preference for singular concord with collective common nouns such as
team, government etc; here, however, English English does permit the singular,
although it is apparently less common in England than in Australia.
Australian style guides generally do not refer to this specific phenomenon.
They usually acknowledge that either type of concord is possible with
team etc. often suggesting that the choice involves the precise sense intended
(e.g. Renton 1994: 102; but see also pp. 124–125); some (e.g. Peters
1995: 31) refer to the prevalence in Australia of singular concord. Peters does also draw attention to the possibility of plural concord with team names,
which is interesting but represents a somewhat odd focus given the dialectal
This phenomenon may be instantiated by (17) and (18); only the latter is
standard (or usual) in England, both are quite normal in Australia.
(17) North Melbourne is playing well.
(18) North Melbourne are playing well.
Yes, 18 is common in AusE
More distinctively Austral(as)ian is the use in this context of singular pronouns
and nouns. Item (19) is quite possible in Australia; compare the English
English and alternative Australian version, (20).
(19) North Melbourne, which was the premier in 1996, is winning its
(20) North Melbourne, who were the premiers/champions in 1996, are winning their matches easily.
19 seems less likely than 18 to me. Newbrook may be right, but it sounds strange to me. (Maybe it's a Melbourne thing).
AmE favours singular verbal concord (Trudgill and Hannah 1994: 72) but
sometimes avoids singular nominal concord even to the extent of switching
number between adjacent clauses to avoid a singular pronoun:
(21) Detroit is winning, aren’t they?
In contrast, AusE sometimes (although not very frequently) switches to singular
number in such circumstances, or even within a clause, for instance where
a grammatically plural team nickname is used as subject:
(22) The Kangaroos [= North Melbourne] must improve its percentage.
No, I've never heard this. Do you have any examples from newspapers, etc? Kangaroos is definitely plural and would use "their", in my experience. In a small survey of Australian newspaper reports taken from ACE, the form
Collingwood (referring to cricket and Australian Rules football teams) appeared
with singular concord (verbal and/or nominal) on 19 occasions and
with plural concord on three. There were no cases here of mixed concord. In a
comparable sample of British reporting the form Liverpool (referring to the
soccer team) was always grammatically plural (25 tokens).
You also asked me what I meant by the use of superlatives followed by 'since.' Again, the same source..:
It has been noted (Newbrook 1992: 10–14, 1993: 51) that the construction
involving a superlative adjective + since (etc.), has, in addition to its more
widespread sense (which is also common in Australia), a second interpretation
which is very familiar to Australians and is perceived by most as quite
uncontroversial. However, it appears to be particular to Austral(as)ia; at any
rate, no instance has yet been found elsewhere, and most non-Australasian
judges seem to find the usage almost incomprehensible at first. Elsewhere, the
item following since in this construction is always described as having the
quality expressed by the superlative to a higher degree than the item actually
described by the superlative, as in the cricket example (34). The most usual
contexts are sports and weather reports, where quantitative records are common.
(34) His score of 200 was his highest since he made 250 in 1995.
The new mark of 200 is here the closest approach to the old mark of 250 that
has been achieved since the latter was reached, but not an improvement upon
it. The old mark may or may not have been the cricketer’s best ever score; for
instance, he may have made 300 in 1990, but that may no longer be deemed
relevant to his current scoring.
In Australian reporting, however, it is very common for this construction
to be used (in some instances) to report (a) the passing of an old mark, which
(b) typically is the standing record — as in (35), where the player’s old mark
of 175 is usually understood as being his best ever score prior to this new score
(35) His score of 200 was his highest since he made 175 in 1995.
Elsewhere, this would be expressed with a completely different construction,
for instance as (36).
(36) His score of 200 was a personal best, beating his previous record of
175 set in 1995.
This phenomenon is, of course, very specific indeed, and appears not to have
attracted the attention of any other commentators.
You could say, "His score of 120 was his highest since his 134 at Lords last summer", even if he had achieved 300 a few years ago. This simply means he is back in form again since a slump after the Lords test.
Finally, reversed relative clauses punctuation:
There is some evidence (Newbrook 1992: 17–19, 1993: 53) that some Australians
(at least in Victoria) have learned from secondary school teachers a
reversed form of the traditional rule determining the presence or absence of
commas before and after relative clauses. This evidence involves the reports
both of the students themselves and of mature university students who are
current or former teachers. This is likely to involve ad hoc advice from
individual teachers, since the relevant curriculum does not seem to address such
matters and any textbooks consulted would give the traditional rule (if any).
This traditional rule prescribes commas both before and after non-restrictive
relative clauses (37) and the non-use of commas around restrictive relative
(37) Joanne and Jane, who had finished, left the hall.
(38) Any students who have finished may leave the hall.
There is, of course, considerable variation in this respect more generally.
Many writers of English (everywhere) sometimes use only one of the two
potential commas, which was at one time quite normal in written English but
which has more recently been deemed non-standard. This usually involves
restrictive relative clauses (which are much the more common), and most
usually (though by no means always) involves the use of the second comma
(39) Any students who have finished, may leave the hall.
The more specifically Australian pattern (if genuine) is represented by (40)
(40) Joanne and Marie who had finished left the hall.
No, I'd have to disagree on this.This is wrong everywhere
(41) Any students, who have finished, may leave the hall.
I'm sure some Australians get this wrong, but it's not familiar to me as something that Australians do more than others.
Those for whom this is a consistent pattern are obviously liable to interpret
sentences such as (42), encountered in reading, with a restrictive sense,
whereas if the writer has followed the traditional canon the sense is intended
as non-restrictive. Conversely, they may take (43) as non-restrictive, whereas
it is probably intended as restrictive.
(42) All the students, who had finished, left the hall.
(43) All the students who had finished left the hall.
The style manuals (e.g. Hudson 1993: 356; Renton 1994: 44, 48) mostly
rehearse the traditional rule, acknowledging that it is not absolute. Peters
(1995: 650) points out that some non-restrictive relative clauses, whose sense
is less obviously parenthetical, do not seem to require the commas so urgently;
although this proviso obviously does not apply to all non-restrictive relatives.
For more discussion, see Newbrook (1992), and for more on variation in
relative clause punctuation more generally see Newbrook (1988, 1992, 1997,
1998a) and references listed there.
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