Since/Because Alternation: Insights from Clause Structures in Nigerian English

Keywords: since/because alternation, syntactic alternation, rationality clauses, clause structure, structural variability


The choice between since and because allows language users to provide rationality which is part of the cognitive functions of language. Different conditions have been shown to explicate this alternation, with little attention paid to the clausal weight. The present paper shows how expression of rationality is alternated between choosing a since or because, since both have the semantic capacity to do so, in certain contexts. The study uses a simple measurement method to show the extent to which clausal weight relates to this alternation. Relying on corpus data from a well-known variety representing Nigerian English, the present study shows that the choice between since and because is related to a number of factors such as the type of text producing the usages. With 1074 usages showing such interchangeable usages extracted from academic and media text types in written Nigerian English, it is shown that, at least in the variety under examination, the choice of since over because as a rationality expresser is scarce, and that overall pattern can be predicted on the basis of certain contexts including clausal weight and ordering pattern. The scarcity of since as a rationality expresser is perhaps a reflection of interference from the local languages, which do not have semantic equivalents.

Author Biography

Mayowa Akinlotan, Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt

Mayowa Akinlotan, PhD, is a research fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and conducts research at the Catholic University of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, Germany. He is also currently a research scholar at the Linguistics Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, USA. He has published extensively on syntactic structures of varieties of English, using basic and advanced corpus methods of linguistic analysis.


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How to Cite
Akinlotan, M. (2021). Since/Because Alternation: Insights from Clause Structures in Nigerian English. English Studies at NBU, 7(2), 167-186.