Abstracts: Fall 2019

Dick Smakman (Leiden University)
Second-Language Sociolinguistics: Globalising pronunciation norms for learners

At the Leiden English department, we ask students at the beginning of the year what type of English they would like to learn, pronunciation-wise. Being highly traditional students (lovers of Anglophone language and literature), most of them prefer to sound British, and a smaller group wants to sound American. In the past few years, however, a growing group of students is indicating that they do not want to sound like a specific native speaker but like someone with an international outlook. Some indicate that they don’t like the stereotypical images that come with standard English from England or the US and prefer to sound authentic, with a mixed accent and non-disturbing features of their native tongue. This group of students has been growing, and the diversity of our students is also changing. There is also a group of students whose second language is almost like a first language because of their international background. Finally, there are students whose L1 pronunciation influence is so dominant that trying to change it is not realistic and leads to embarrassment. No longer can we offer all students a course on how to sound less Dutch and more British/American, with a type of accent that fits all social settings.

This new group of students (diverse, with non-traditional pronunciation aims) is like to continue to grow, and as teachers we have choices to make. Not only are our students changing, the ideologies of our staff are also developing, including the awareness that teaching students a specific accent has many drawbacks and does not fit the realities of a globalising world. The question is what to teach this group of students. The added challenge in English Language and Culture departments is that there are certain academic goals, besides practical ones. The idea now is that students develop their own type of English, learn to understand and interpret their fellow students’ pronunciation, understand sound production, and that they need to know about the sociolinguistic realities of L1 and L2 English accents. In this talk, I will elaborate on the importance and difficulties of teaching second-language pronunciation in post-modern times and about how an actual pronunciation model may still be used in order to meet the demands of diverse groups of learners with equally diverse pronunciation goals.

Bente Ailin Svendsen (University of Oslo)
Citizen sociolinguistics as science and as methodology – critical perspectives

The objective of this paper is to discuss citizen sociolinguistics (Rymes & Leone 2014; Svendsen 2018) as science and as methodology, and the extent to which and how it represents a feasible approach within sociolinguistics. Citizen science (hereafter, CS) involves citizens in doing research, and has at least a 200 years tradition within natural sciences, dating inter alia back to Linné’s engagement of lay people in his work on the typology of animals and plants in the mid-18th century (Kullenberg & Kasperowski 2018). Within lexicography, citizen engagement has over the years played a vital role e.g. in the production of Oxford English Dictionary. Within sociolinguistics, there are two related but slightly different conceptions of citizen sociolinguistics where Rymes and Leone (2014: 16) define citizen sociolinguists as ‘people who use their senses and intelligence to understand the world around them. Citizen sociolinguistics, then, is the study of these understandings.’ According to Svendsen (2018: 139) on the other hand, as well as SturtzSreetharan et al. (2019) and Agostini et al. (2019), ‘citizen sociolinguistics requires the inclusion of non-professionals in doing sociolinguistic research, in collecting data, in registering them, analyzing and interpreting them relative to the level of citizen involvement and collaboration, the research questions and design of the CS- project.’ Based on a Norwegian citizen science-project where all pupils in the Norwegian school were invited to be language researchers, this paper presents some of the data the citizens collected. Moreover, it discusses the advantages and challenges of citizen sociolinguistics, and finally it raises questions whether CS has the potential to answer some of the recent calls for democratization of research (e.g. Horizon 2020: SwafsS; EU draft FP9) and contribute to solve some of the grand societal challenges of today.

References:

Agostini, Gina, Cindi SturtzSreetharan, Amber Wutich, Deborah Williams and Alexandra Brewis. 2019. Citizen sociolinguistics: A new method to understand fat talk. PLoS ONE 14(5): e0217618.

European Commision. 2019. Citizen Participation in FP9: A model for mission and work programme engagement.

EU Research. 2017. Scoping paper for Horizon 2020 work programme 2018–2020: Science with and for society. (Accessed 18 July 2017).

Rymes, Betsy and Andrea R. Leone. 2014. Citizen sociolinguistics: A new media methodology for understanding language and social life. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 29: 25–43.

SturtzSreetharan, Cindi L. Gina Agostini, Alexandra A. Brewis and Amber Wutich. 2019. Fat talk: A citizen sociolinguistic approach. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 23:3, 263 – 283.

Svendsen, Bente Ailin. 2018. The dynamics of citizen sociolinguistics. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 22 (2): 137- 160.

Frits van der Kuip (Fryske Akademy) en Pieter Duijff (Fryske Akademy / Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Friese taalplanning. Welk Fries?

Een uitspraak van de recent benoemde burgemeester Sybrand van Haersma Buma van de gemeente Leeuwarden typeert de Friese taalsituatie. Als Fries heeft hij er geen enkel probleem mee zich in sociale communicatie in het Fries uit te drukken, maar als hij zich in zijn werk in het Fries moet uiten, gaat hij onderuit. De oorzaak van zijn onzekerheid is voor een niet onbelangrijk deel terug te brengen tot twee oorzaken. Ten eerste is de dominante onderwijstaal in Fryslân het Nederlands. Het onderwijs in het Fries is ondanks wettelijke verplichtingen uiterst minimaal. Ten tweede is het Nederlands in nogal wat domeinen de dominante taal in het Friese taalgebied. Het Fries is – vooral buiten de grotere centra – bovenal een gesproken taal. Het gevolg hiervan is dat de Friese woordenschat veel hiaten vertoont. En ten gevolge van de dominantie van het Nederlands leent de Fries in zijn Fries gaandeweg meer uit het Nederlands. Dit leengedrag beperkt zich niet tot de woordenschat, maar komt evengoed op andere taalniveaus voor.

In de negentiende eeuw, toen het Fries nagenoeg geheel een spreektaal was, is een begin gemaakt met het ontwikkelen van een Friese standaardtaal. Deze standaardtaal functioneert bijna alleen als geschreven taal, met toch ook wel enige ruimte voor dialectvariatie. Door traditie en door taalbeleid heeft deze standaardtaal langzamerhand vastere vormen aangenomen. In onze bijdrage zullen wij aandacht besteden aan de ontwikkeling van de standaardtaal zoals deze er nu uitziet. Wij zullen ook ingaan op de afstand tussen de schrijf- en spreektaal. De standaardtaal wordt maar door een beperkt aantal bewuste schrijvers van het Fries gebruikt. Een nog kleiner aantal Friezen spreekt min of meer deze standaardtaal. De vraag van de samenstellers van moderne taalhulpmiddelen, de vraag van onszelf, is welke vorm van het Fries in deze hulpmiddelen moet worden gegeven. Wij weten dat door de dominante positie van het Nederlands het heel lastig is de Friezen een genormeerde standaardtaal of geïsoleerde elementen in deze taal in het gesproken Fries te laten gebruiken, zelfs in hun geschreven taal is er discussie over de norm.

Fryske taalplanning. Wat Frysk?

In útspraak fan de resint beneamde boargemaster Sybrand van Haersma Buma fan de gemeente Ljouwert typearret de Fryske taalsituaasje. As Fries kin er him poerbêst mei it Frysk rêde yn sosjale kommunikaasje, mar as er him yn syn wurk yn it Frysk útdrukke moat, sil er dat net oprêde. De oarsaak fan syn ûnwissigens is foar in wichtich part werom te bringen ta twa oarsaken. Yn it foarste plak is de dominante ûnderwiistaal yn Fryslân it Nederlânsk. It ûnderwiis yn it Frysk is nettsjinsteande wetlike ferplichtingen uterst minimaal. Yn it twadde plak is it Nederlânsk yn in hiel soad domeinen de dominante taal yn it Fryske taalgebiet. It Frysk is – benammen bûten de gruttere sintra – foaral in sprutsen taal. It gefolch dêrfan is dat de Fryske wurdskat nochal wat hiaten hat. Troch de dominânsje fan it Nederlânsk lient de Fries yn syn Frysk geandewei mear út it Nederlânsk. Dat lienen beheint him net ta de wurdskat, mar komt op oare taalnivo’s likegoed foar.

Yn de njoggentjinde iuw, doe’t it Frysk suver folslein in sprektaal wie, is in begjin makke mei it ûntwikkeljen fan in Fryske standerttaal. Dy standerttaal funksjonearret hast allinnich as skreaune taal, mei dochs ek noch wol wat rûmte foar dialektfariaasje. Troch tradysje en troch taalbelied hat geandewei dy standerttaal fêstere foarmen oannaam. Yn ús bydrage sille wy yngean op de ûntjouwing nei de standertaal fan no. Wy sille ek neier yngean op de ôfstân tusken de skriuw- en sprektaal. De standerttaal wurdt mar troch in beheind tal bewuste Fryskskriuwers brûkt. In noch lytser tal minsken praat min ofte mear de standerttaal. De fraach fan de gearstallers fan moderne taalhelpmiddels, it fraach fan ússels, is wat foarm fan it Frysk oft yn dy helpmiddels werjûn wurde moat. Wy witte dat troch de dominantens fan it Nederlânsk it hiel dreech is en lit Friezen in noarmearre standertaal of isolearre eleminten yn dy taal yn it sprutsen Frysk brûke, sels yn harren skreaune taal is diskusje oer noarm.

Peter Slomanson (Tampere University)
Explaining infinitival negation in a new contact language

The presence of explicitly-marked infinitival complements in Sri Lankan Malay (SLM) has been regarded as a radical contact language property, given the complete absence of such a construction from other Malay/Indonesian varieties. This fact and the way the construction interacts with negation require explanation. SLM negation markers are all derived from Malay forms, but their functions with respect to tense and finiteness contrasts reflect contact with Sri Lankan languages. One such form, jang(an), specifically marks negative non-finite verbs, including those that are infinitival. Explanations ought to demonstrate a logical path from the item’s semantic interpretation in Malay to its function in SLM. In previous accounts, jang(an) has been treated as a simple functional extension of what in Malay/Indonesian is conventionally described as a negative imperative marker, also jang(an). This overlooks the question of whether precursors to the infinitival construction in SLM might be found in non-imperative negative constructions in Malay/Indonesian with similar semantic interpretation. These precursors are not difficult to find in colloquial usage, based on available corpora. In a revised analysis based on this finding, the introduction of a finiteness contrast yielding infinitival status for specific complement and adjunct clause types involves a single feature whose introduction is less radical and more economical than in previous accounts. It follows logically from the syntax and semantics of the original construction, while still accommodating a general characteristic of the Sri Lankan linguistic area and discourse culture.

Heike Wiese (Humboldt-University of Berlin)
Multilingualism as normalcy: exploring the gamut of language use

Multilingualism acts as a motor of linguistic developments, and accordingly, multilingual communities can afford us a privileged view onto ongoing tendencies of language variation and change. However, in order to make full use of this opportunity, it is not enough to measure multilingual language use against the yardstick of a putative monolingual standard language. Rather, we need to look at the gamut of speakers’ repertoires, which means taking into account both formal and informal registers and, crucially, doing so for multilinguals and monolinguals alike.

In my talk, I address the methodological challenges for such an enterprise, and in particular the importance to elicit data that is representative of speakers’ natural behaviour in different communicative situations, and discuss set-ups to overcome this challenge. I show that looking at matching repertoire data from multilinguals and monolinguals can reveal interesting similarities of noncanonical patterns, often with quantitative advantages for multilingual communities that make them particularly valuable as a domain of study.

By way of example, I discuss evidence from the domain of noun phrases, drawing on findings from current projects on heritage speakers’ linguistic repertoires, urban contact dialects (especially Kiezdeutsch), Namibian German, and language use at a multilingual Berlin street market.

Tom Hoogervorst (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies)
Translanguaging practices, vulgar language, and metalinguistic comments in late-colonial Indonesia

What can colonial-era texts tell us about these phenomena? What analytical tools do we have to study them? In an attempt to address these questions, I call attention to a semi-digital corpus of vernacular Malay texts from the former Netherlands Indies. The authors of these novels, newspapers, poems, advertisements, and theatre plays predominantly came from Indonesia’s Chinese minority, although other Malay-literate communities were among their readers and writers too. Unlike the elitist “standard Malay” literature – which was promoted by the colonial government and aimed to “improve” the intellectual level of the Indonesia’s subjects – the so-called “Sino-Malay” literature was commercial, popular, and unapologetically hybrid. To the chagrin of language purists, Sino-Malay texts were deeply translingual, incorporating elements from Javanese, Sundanese, Dutch, English, French, Mandarin, and Hokkien (the Sinitic variety many Chinese-Indonesians originally spoke).

Several factors prompted writers to explore their linguistic repertoire to the fullest. The use of multiple languages – including in the same texts – served as a strategy to attract readers from different plurilingual backgrounds, such as local-born Chinese, middle-class Eurasians, and indigenous elites. This obviously came with economic benefits, as journalism had developed into a flourishing enterprise from the mid-nineteenth century. This led to a conscious rejection of top-down efforts to force the Malay language into a prescriptive straitjacket, as colonial administrators and indigenous literati would have it. Language-mixing also ensured linguistic creativity and playfulness. Word choice – including the use of pronouns, translingual puns, and swearwords – was crucial to produce popular writings. Spelling played an important role as well. Printed in the Latin rather than Arabic-derived alphabet, Sino-Malay texts could represent the accents and other linguistic peculiarities of individuals in meticulous detail. The authors and texts thus provide instances of linguistically encoded manifestations of humour, irreverence, and selfing and othering in a language variety no longer in use.

Biodata

Tom Hoogervorst is a researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV). His research interests include historical linguistics, language contact, and youth language, with a focus on Indonesia and Malaysia. He is currently finishing a book on the language history of Indonesia’s Chinese minority. He has also published on loanwords and their importance to understand cultural contact in the Indian Ocean World.

Heike Pichler (Newcastle University)
Observing the course of discourse-pragmatic change in synchronic data: innit in Multicultural London English

Since its emergence in the late fifteenth to early sixteenth centuries, the system of British English question tags, illustrated in (1)-(3), has been characterized by complex but stable and robust formation rules (Childs 2016; Hoffmann 2006; Pichler 2013; Tottie & Hoffmann 2009). However, in contemporary London English, this complexity is giving way to uniformity. Innit, as in (4), is rapidly ousting other tag forms from the system. In order to elucidate the mechanisms driving this dramatic change, I build on previous work that has examined individual variants (i.e., innit and weren’t it, as in (5)) in isolation, and quantified their distribution across selected predictors (Andersen 2001; Cheshire & Fox 2009). I include in the variable context all negative-polarity question tag variants (N=2395) extracted from the socially stratified Linguistic Innovators Corpus (collected in inner- and outer-London in 2005-2006; Kerswill et al. 2007), which allows me to: (a) situate ongoing changes in the use of individual variants in relation to the broader system in which they occur; (b) operationalize multiple measures of grammaticalization for quantitative analysis; and (c) explore which of these changes are internally-motivated or contact-induced.

  1. Oh, I missed out, me, didn’t I?
  2. But runner beans are our favourite, aren’t they?
  3. London can be posh, can’t it?
  4. Cos we rob them, innit?
  5. Cos I stopped bunning, weren’t it?

The quantitative data analysis confirms the gradual but rapid nature of the change described above. Within just two generations, a system dominated by a wide range of tag variants whose occurrence is strictly conditioned by syntactic-semantic factors, as in (1)-(3), is being supplanted by the invariant use of innit, as in (4), via a system of functionally-conditioned variation between variants, including invariant weren’t it. This rapid and large-scale reconfiguration of the system is made possible because innit – due to its reanalysis as a single unit – undergoes both decategorialization and semantic-pragmatic context expansion; it spreads across syntactic-semantic contexts and increases its functional versatility. Based on new cross-dialectal and cross-linguistic evidence, I propose that the emergence and ongoing grammaticalization of innitwere caused by an internal force, namely contact-induced grammatical replication. Multi-ethnic friendship groups and everyday mundane mobilities are enabling factors in the social and special diffusion of innovative innit uses beyond the multi-ethnic London boroughs where these innovations originate.

References

 

Andersen, Gisle. 2001. Pragmatic Markers and Sociolinguistic Variation: A Relevance-Theoretic Approach to the Language of Adolescents. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Cheshire, Jenny & Sue Fox. 2009. Was/were variation: a perspective from London. Language Variation and Change 21(1): 1-38.

Childs, Claire. 2017. Variation and change in English negation: a cross-dialectal perspective. Unpublished PhD thesis, Newcastle University, UK.

Hoffmann, Sebastian. 2006. Tag questions in Early and Late Modern English: historical description and theoretical implications. Anglistik 17(2): 35-55.

Kerswill, Paul, Jenny Cheshire, Sue Fox & Eivind Torgersen. 2007. Linguistic Innovators: The English of Adolescents in London: Full Research Report. ESRC End of Award Report, RES-000-23-0680. Swindon: ESRC.

Pichler, Heike. 2013. The Structure of Discourse-Pragmatic Variation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Tottie, Gunnel & Sebastian Hoffmann. 2009. Tag questions in English: the first century. Journal of English Linguistics 37(2): 130-161.