This diachronic study aims to investigate the shifts and mutations of Standard English in Trinidad & Tobago over time by analysing articles from the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian (formerly the Trinidad Guardian) from three different periods, roughly 30 years apart. These selected time periods reflect three very distinct periods in the history of Trinidad & Tobago, first as a British colony, then as a newly independent country, and finally contemporary Trinidad & Tobago, an increasingly important player in the Caribbean context and the American continent. These periods reflect shifting spheres of influence, as British authority recedes and the islands are increasingly influenced by the United States and other American countries via strengthening social and economic ties as well as the rising presence of American media.

The texts analysed in this project fall into one of two categories: reportage and editorials. They were taken from issues of the newspaper Trinidad & Tobago Guardian from the years 1938, 1968 and 2012. The corpora assembled comprise 120,000 words of reportage and 60,000 words of editorials for each year, for a total of 540,000 words. The articles selected are a minimum of 50 words in length and are all strictly about local news and issues, that is to say, they deal exclusively with events and people in Trinidad & Tobago, excluding articles written by foreign correspondents and international news agencies, such as Reuters. The data from the different periods are analysed for concordances and discrepancies in the use of, among other things, contractions, the passive voice and progressive aspect, relative clauses, modals and semi-modals and verbal complementation.



A matter of moment.

[…] The conference is expected to consider, among other things, a memorandum from the Trinidad Chamber of Commerce on the Palestine citrus fruit question. The problem involved is one of great importance to Trinidad, where grapefruit cultivation is a promising young industry, for it involves the possibility of Palestine competition becoming overwhelming if fruit from the Holy Land is given the free entry it is seeking in the United Kingdom market. […]

It is difficult to understand by what reasoning it could be claimed that Palestine citrus should enjoy in England equal facilities with the products of a British Colony, and it would be possible to write very strongly on this subject. Inasmuch as it is to come before the Fruit and Vegetable Conference next week we shall for the moment content ourselves, however, with hoping that it will receive adequate notice from the delegates. […]



Let's pull together - and redouble our efforts, says PM.

Amidst the festive spirit of Trinidad and Tobago's Independence anniversary, the Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams, has called on the country and its people to redouble their efforts, particularly in the industrial and economic field.

Both Port-of-Spain and San Fernando, the nation's two largest municipalities, have gone gay for independence as several business houses and Government buildings are bedecked with bunting and National flags.

Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister said:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Today is the Sixth Anniversary of our Independence. […]

Six years are a short time in the history of man, but, for Trinidad and Tobago, they mark the beginning of a journey on the road which can lead only forward. […]

In these six years we have established a national community which has been praised and envied by the world. We have almost completed two economic development programmes which have set in train nation-wide development. […]



Develop locally, sell globally.

[…] Chamber president Lennox Sirjuesingh described the current situation as "neocolonialism." Strong words for an accumulation of tastes, cultural laziness and enthusiasms for packaged, first world goods. While there are some aspects of Mr Sirjuesingh's arguments that merit some consideration, it remains unclear whether an effort to push paying customers into consuming more locally-produced product can work in 2012. […]

Today's local customer is a patron of Amazon, a viewer of dozens of channels of cable programming, complete with exciting advertisements for entirely attainable products and visits local malls stocked with an array of goods shipped in from countries all around the world. We have snacks from China and the <}><->Phillipines</-><+>Philippines</+></}>, milk from Germany and cornflakes from the USA.

[…] In short, globalisation has made the imperatives of buying local less clear cut than ever before. Changing local tastes now is no longer a matter of insisting on preferred attitudes but of seducing more sophisticated consumers into trying local products, both physical and cultural.


Markup symbols

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Hackert, S., & Deuber, D. (2015). American influence on written Caribbean English: A diachronic analysis of newspaper reportage in the Bahamas and in Trinidad and Tobago. In P. Collins (Ed.), Grammatical Change in English World-Wide (pp. 389-410). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.