Abstracts: Spring 2018

Marina Terkourafi | Research ethics for ethnographic research: a best practices sharing session

Research ethics is becoming increasingly important but also increasingly scrutinized in the academic and publishing world. Yet, what this notion encompasses and how it is implemented can vary widely across disciplines and in different parts of the world. In this short presentation, we go over the notion of research ethics and how it can be best implemented in linguistic research conducted outside lab settings. We outline ethnographic methods of data collection and the various stages of ethnographic research, and indicate ways in which research ethics can affect decisions made before, during, and after the data collection process. We also briefly introduce recently purchased equipment available to borrow from the LUCL labs to conduct this type of research. This is a best practices sharing session, so participants will be invited to share their experiences conducting ethnographic research, and discuss possible solutions and improvements to current practices. (download PPT)

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade | Multilingual The Hague

The Hague is a city with more than 50% non-native speakers or speakers with a non-native Dutch background. It is, moreover, said to be the most segregated city of The Netherlands, which is not only evident in the traditional spread of the native Dutch population across the city (cf. the allegedly salubrious/insalubrious contrast reflected by zand “sand” vs veen “bog”) or the social distinction between being a Hagenaar or a Hagenees, but also in where in the city its immigrants or expats are located. Several immigrant groups – e.g. Moroccans, Poles – have a very low socio-economic status, which leads to high unemployment figures in these areas (e.g. Schilderswijk) as well as to an underestimate of their potential economic power. The Hague currently, for instance, has a Dutch-only policy, which not only ignores the present multilingual nature of its population but is in my view also seriously detrimental to the city’s multilingual status.

Exactly how many languages are currently being spoken in The Hague is not known. In 2001 Extra et al. reported the results of a survey among primary and secondary school children, which led to an overview of 88 so-called home languages in addition to Dutch. Since then, however, the sociolinguistic make-up of the city will have changed due to various recent socio-economic developments, and a new survey is called for (cf. Cynthia Groff’s Marie Curie project).

In the meantime, and as I will report on in this paper, I have been trying to make an inventory of the languages currently spoken in The Hague by tracing native speakers of as many different languages as possible. In doing so I have been drawing on my personal social network (first and second order contacts), and have been publishing brief accounts of the interviews I conducted in the local newspaper Den Haag Centraal since February 2016. The aim of these four-weekly columns (“De taal van Den Haag”; see also my Facebook page “Haagse Talen”) was to try and give a (positive) face to speakers of different languages in the city, and thus to contribute to a more nuanced view of the multilingual nature of The Hague among the general public.

All this has meanwhile led to the acceptance of my project “Spreuk op de Stoep”, jointly carried out with four Leiden students of linguistics, by the local government as one of the ways of enhancing the current entrance into the old city form railway station Hollands Spoor. Eventually, I aim to publish my findings in a monograph called Multilingual The Hague, for which I will draw on the various methods of describing and defining multilingual cities as carried out in the LUCIDE project (King and Carson 2016), which includes Utrecht but not The Hague.


Den Haag Centraal: http://www.denhaagcentraal.net/.

Extra, Guus, Rian Aarts, Tim van der Avoird, Peter Brouder and Kutlau Yağmur. 2001. Meertaligheid in Den Haag: De Status van Allochtone Talen Thuis en op School. Amsterdam: European Cultural Foundation.

King, Lid and Lorna Carson (2016). The Multilingual City: Vitality. Conflict and Change. Bristol/Buffalo/Toronto: Multilingual Matters.

Leonie Cornips | Bidialectal children in Dutch Limburg growing up in a standardized world: a cognitive, sociolinguistic and acquisitional perspective

In my talk, I will focus on the phenomenon of bidialectism from different angles. I will first discuss outcomes of cognitive research revealing that dialect speaking children between 5 and 8 years do not differ in acquisition of Dutch vocabulary from their monolingual peers (Francot et al, 2017) and that they out-perform them in the Sky Search task (Blom et al, 2017).

Second, I will discuss the results from a sociolinguistic, observational study (Morilles Morales, 2017) of how and why children and their teachers choose between Dutch and dialect in kindergartens. In contrast to speaking the standard language, speaking a dialect in the Netherlands where a standard language is omnipresent is never a social neutral practice. Language ideology informs language choice in different language practices such as playing, singing, eating, and instruction.

Finally, I will discuss that the findings in the cognitive study and in studies about acquisition of grammatical gender in Dutch by bidialectal children are in contrast with the language ideology in education that acquisition of dialect will hinder a native knowledge and mastery of Dutch by young children (Cornips and Hulk 2008, Cornips 2014). I will follow Woolard’s (2016) cognitive frame in order to understand why speaking dialect in a standardized world gives rise to tensions both in society as well in linguistic research.

Simanique Moody | Investigating Dialect Attrition in Bidialectal African Americans

Most African Americans in the United States grow up in environments where a range of English dialects are spoken, such as African American English, Mainstream American English, Southern White Vernacular English, and Latino English. As a result of direct and indirect contact, African Americans have varying degrees of proficiency in the language varieties that constitute their linguistic repertoire. Much of the research on bidialectalism in African Americans examines its impact in educational contexts and concludes that African American English differs significantly from Mainstream American English and that teachers are ill-equipped to bridge this linguistic (and often cultural) gap. There is little research, however, on dialect attrition in bidialectal African American adults in non-academic settings. This talk examines how African Americans view their bidialectalism and investigates how bidialectal African Americans who have been out of educational or other formal settings for over 10 years perform on dialect awareness tasks compared to African Americans who use Mainstream American English on a regular basis. This research contributes to a greater understanding of bidialectalism across the lifespan, particularly with regard to dialect attrition and bidialectal production and comprehension in adults.

Teresa Girolamo | The impact of child characteristics on teacher identification of SLI

This study examined how child characteristics associated with specific language impairment (SLI) impact identification by teachers in the United States.  An online survey was administered to 304 teachers nationwide, crucially featuring six vignettes, each featuring a different profile of a child with language impairment.  Results showed that teachers identified children at above-chance rates for additional services (beyond basic classroom instruction) and in-class intervention.  Yet they identified children for services outside the classroom and for speech-language pathology services at comparatively lower rates.  These findings have implications for understanding under-diagnosis of SLI and lay groundwork for future research.

Janet Fuller | ‘Ein Biodeutscher wie ich’: Discourses of National Belonging in German Newspaper Comments

At the end of the 2016, 22.5% of the population of Germany was classified as having a migrant background, and the integration of immigrants has become a focus of public discourse. In this presentation, I will discuss how commenters on articles in the German newspaper Die Zeit Online characterize immigrants, integration, and Germany identity. This Critical Discourse Analysis identifies discourses of inclusion and exclusion as well as looking at the use of particular terms for groups (Personen mit Migrationshintergrund ‘people with migration background’ and Biodeutsche(r) ‘biological Germans’) and how these terms acquire meaning and are used to hierarchically position members of these groups in terms of national belonging. Muslims in general, and Turks in particular, are discussed as the unintegrated Other, and the pervasiveness of these othering discourses is shown through examples where no labels are used but the reference is clear.

This analysis of media discussions of immigration and integration in Germany provides a view of not just the multiple discourses in circulation about national belonging, but also how these discourses are intertwined with linguistic resources. More broadly, this illustrates the incremental process of ideological shift through multiple discourses and how terminological developments are part of the discursive construction of social categories and their societal value.

Jill Jeffery | Writing Development and Education Standards in Cross- national Perspective

The importance of writing ability for academic and career advancement is increasingly a focus of education research and policy globally. In response to concerns regarding students’ writing skills (e.g., National Commission on Writing, 2003; 2005; Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, 2013), policymakers and curriculum designers have begun placing more emphasis on writing in nationwide academic standards (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2012; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). However, given the complexity of writing development as a contextual as well as an “individualistic and variable” activity (Graham, Harris, Kiuhara, and Fishman, 2017), representing the development of writing competence in standards that vary by grade level is challenging, and little is known regarding how educational systems vary in approaching this challenge. In response to calls for more worldwide writing research (Graham and Rijlaardsam, 2014), we undertake a cross-national examination of writing standards with the aim of informing policymakers, those in charge of the research and development of writing standards, and researchers interested in writing development, by comparing how three educational systems (in Denmark, Norway, and the US) have represented writing development in curricular standards. To that end, we ask, 1) How are grade-level distinctions articulated in standards for writing? 2) How are the developmental frameworks implicated in these distinctions related to theory and research on writing development? 3) How do these frameworks for writing development vary across educational systems?

Hannah De Mulder | Figuring out what they feel: The role of narrative fiction in understanding others’ mental states

“On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide—it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese—the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.” (Eugenides 1993, The Virgin Suicides)

The quote above is the first sentence of Eugenides’ novel The Virgin Suicides, and we are immediately sucked in: who is Mary, who is Therese and why did they commit suicide? This example illustrates a hallmark of narrative fiction: it is about autonomous intentional agents and their (inter)actions and in order to make sense of it, we must engage in advanced social-cognitive processing. In this way, exposure to narrative fiction provides us with social-cognitive training and thus can potentially be used as a tool to hone our abilities in this domain. In this talk, I will discuss various research projects that consider effects of exposure to different types of narrative fiction on the social-cognitive abilities of both adults and children.

John Edwards | The Perscriptivism of Language “Rights”

Discussions of language within and across settings – particularly where minority groups are involved – often touch upon issues of ethics, justice and rights in the most cursory way (if, indeed, at all). More frequent is a rather glib invocation of ‘rights’, accompanied perhaps by a mention of some linguistics declaration or other. Arguments then proceed, apparently on the basis that the existence of, and the consequent force behind, language rights can be assumed as real. There is no doubt that language rights are important, as are the principles from which they emerge, but matters of such centrality, matters that underpin linguistic perceptions and procedures (and sometimes policy), cannot simply rest upon the view that their existence is obvious and therefore need not be investigated. To be more specific: a right that is claimed but is not enforceable is not a strong pillar for either social or linguistic action. So, this talk is built around the clarification of a simple point: claims are not the same thing as rights.