The main value of the MC and the BWC as corpora, I have argued, is that they give us a rare glimpse of unscripted and spontaneous vernacular language from periods which pre-date the widespread use of the sophisticated electronic spoken corpora we have now (see Chapter 2). In Chapter 5 we exploited this strength of the BWC in particular in order to focus on certain grammatical and phonological features typical of the dialect at that time. Many of these features, particularly grammatical features such as the cliticised form I’st or the pronouns thee and thou have fallen prey to the processes of dialect levelling to the point where they are now all but obsolete. In this chapter, we turn our attention from language change through dialect levelling to what might be seen as its polar opposite i.e. vernacular continuity. We focus on certain grammatical features in the MC and the BWC which have traditionally been regarded as non-standard or vernacular forms but which have, it appears, stood the test of time. The features in question are to be found in the MC and the BWC as well as in a number of present-day varieties of English. We will also see that these vernacular features can be found in our historical sources going back much further in the past than the MC and the BWC. The features which, I argue, have a fair claim to be what we might term vernacular veterans are:
Tails/right dislocation (see Chapter 4 for an introduction to this feature)
There’s + plural NP complement
Clause-final like.We examine each of these features in turn, seeking evidence from the MC and the BWC, from present-day corpora, and from historical sources.