Bilingualism

Pieter Muysken – Radboud University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

See Course Description

Languages change continuously, in part because their speakers also use other languages, language contact. I will discuss different ways of studying language contact, from the perspective of stability. Which aspects of language remain stable and under which circumstances is there stability? Which methodologies can be used to study stability and can they reinforce each other? How does stability relate to borrowability? Language contact can be studied at different levels of time depth and geographical scope:

* deep time contacts involving large areas, such as the Circum-Pacific or Eurasia

* historical time contacts involving countries and single languages, such as the history of English in Great Britain

* recent time contacts involving bilingual speech communities, such as the Puerto Rican community in New York

* instant time contacts in experimental settings with cross-linguistic priming of multilingual speakers

These different levels have yielded different and sometimes apparently contradictory results. Some deep time and instant time studies have suggested much less stability than historical and recent time studies. Are these contrasts real or an artifact of the particular study? How could they be explained? I will focus on recent results from our research with deep time relations in the Amazon region (time depth at least 5000 years), historical time depth relations in the Republic of Surinam (time depth about 500 years), studies on heritage languages in the Netherlands (time depth about 50 years), and priming experiments with Turkish-Dutch and Papiamentu-Dutch bilinguals (very limited time depth).

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