Tag Archives: Bilingualism
7/06 Sociolinguistic and Linguistic Issues Involved in Heritage Languages

July 6, 2013
2407 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: A.M. Backus ( A.M.Backus@uvt.nl), Pieter Muysken (p.muysken@let.ru.nl)

See Workshop Description

Workshop on Sociolinguistic and Linguistic Issues

Involved in Heritage Languages

LSA Institute, July 6, 2013

Organizers: Ad Backus and Pieter Muysken

In order to be able to order enough coffee and snacks, and not too much, please send an email to p.muysken@let.ru.nl if you aim to take part in the workshop, and do so before Thursday.


9.00     Introduction

9.20       Presenting the planned heritage languages book chapter by chapter + discussion

We are currently writing an introductory textbook on Heritage Languages and want to go through the projected contents with you, in a focus group-like setting. You are, after all, representative of the audience we are writing the book for.

10.40     Coffee and snacks, provided by the Traces of Contact grant to Pieter Muysken of the European Research Council

Presentations (15 minutes plus discussion)

11.10     Sandhya K. Narayanan (University of Michigan). Living in a zone of contact: Linguistic and anthropological directions to investigate the Quechua-Aymara “language boundary”

11.30     Eva Bosch Roura (Universitat de Barcelona). First names and the perception of linguistic identity: an ethnolinguistic analysis of the most popular names in Catalonia in 2008

11.50     Nicholas Emlen (University of Michigan). The circulation of discourse markers in a trilingual Andean-Amazonian community

12.10               Lunch outside

13.30               Belem G. López and Jyotsna Vaid (Texas A&M University). Speed of Translation Verification and Motivations for Code-Switching: Does Language Brokering Make a Difference?

13.50               Tridha Chatterjee and Marlyse Baptista (University of Michigan). Contact effects from English onto Bengali:  The Case of Copular Predicates.

14.10               Chloé Diskin (University College Dublin). Sociolinguistic Issues and Migration in Ireland: A Study of Polish and Chinese Speakers of Irish-English

14.30               Discussion in subgroups

Group discussions, monitored and assisted by us, in which we discuss the issues briefly described below, all of them relevant to the study of Heritage Languages from some perspective. If you have other suggestions for subgroup discussion themes, please email or tell one of us.


Issues for the subgroup discussions:

  1. What is the effect of globalization and cyclic migration in heritage languages and their study?

We have gotten used to the three generations rule, stating that most immigrant communities shift from their ancestral language to their new language in the course of three generations. In modern times, with its easy and cheap possibilities for communication and travel, this may not be the automatic result of immigration anymore. Also, new influences in the languages may travel back and forth.

  1. Compare the position of heritage languages in different countries. What other names are found in the languages of these countries and in the research literature?

The term ‘Heritage Language’ is especially popular in North America. It is unclear to what extent the term is synonymous with approximate equivalents in European and other settings, such as ‘immigrant varieties’, ‘minority languages’ and ‘community languages’. Also remember that names are very interesting, often more than mere labels.

  1. What are the most important cognitive processes involved in the formation of heritage languages as a separate group?

Heritage Languages look different from their ancestral variety, as they have undergone various contact-induced changes. These can take the form of direct foreign influence (lexical borrowing, loan translation, grammatical interference) as well as indirect effects of contact, or of not being in touch with the norms of the homeland or ancestral variety anymore: attrition and imperfect acquisition are terms that have been used for these processes.

  1. What grammatical features of heritage languages can be studied cross linguistically?

For contact linguists, it is of interest to know whether there are aspects of grammar that are particularly vulnerable to outside influence in contact settings, and others that are particularly robust. Is it possible to compare, for example, argument structure, case marking, TAM inflection or word order across heritage languages?

  1. Should heritage languages be treated any differently from the traditional native languages of a specific country?

Heritage languages can be the result of language shift and language loss in immigrant languages or in indigenous minority languages. In terms of creating socio-political support, there seem to be good reasons for supporting indigenous minority languages more than immigrant languages, but to what extent does that hold true?

15.15               Presentation and discussion of the subgroup results

16.00-17.00     Closing discussion


Living in a zone of contact: Linguistic and anthropological directions to investigate the Quechua-Aymara “language boundary”

Sandhya K. Narayanan, University of Michigan

This short presentation will build an argument for future study investigating the socio-historical and linguistic nature of Quechua-Aymara contact. Current literature on the linguistic situation in the Andes has identified Quechua and Aymara speakers co-existing together predominantly in the areas surrounding Lake Titicaca (from the department of Puno, Peru to the department of La Paz, Bolivia); and also extending to the regions north of the department of Potosi, Bolivia. However, the exact nature of Quechua-Aymara contact has not been fully addressed in the linguistic or anthropological literature concerning speakers of both languages within these regions.

In addition to briefly reviewing the literature that provides foundation for this research, this talk will go more specifically into the ways that ethnographic research of Quechua and Aymara speakers surrounding Lake Titicaca can help elucidate the specific social situations that contribute (or could have contributed) to the particular language contact effects that have been noted and hypothesized in the literature. Finally, this talk will hopefully raise questions and general discussion about the current social and linguistic state of speakers living in what is today a trilingual contact zone (Quechua-Aymara-Spanish), which still remains relatively undocumented.


First names and the perception if linguistic identity: an ethnolinguistic analysis of the most popular names in Catalonia in 2008

Eva Bosch Roura, Universitat de Barcelona

Anthroponyms are linguistic items that carry a heavy symbolic load. Thus, a first name links its bearer to a certain ethnolinguistic identity, which is both transmitted and perceived, in part, through this anthroponym. This communication explores the relationships between language, anthroponymy, and identity, to analyse the linguistic ideologies that they may disclose. We do so through ethnolinguistic surveys in which informants where asked to assign a linguistic identity to a speaker only by means of his or her first name. Data shows important differences in the perception that the two main linguistic communities in Catalonia have, not only of their most popular names, but also of linguistic identity itself. The differences are accounted for in terms of the ideologies of authenticity and anonymity.


The circulation of discourse markers in a trilingual Andean-Amazonian community

Nicholas Emlen, University of Michigan
In a small community on the Andean-Amazonian borderland of Southern Peru, Spanish, Quechua, and Matsigenka are spoken. There is significant contact-induced variation among each of the languages, though these effects are unevenly distributed both among the community members and among interactional contexts. In this talk, I will present data on the circulation of discourse-marking strategies among the three languages and discuss some of the social implications of these changes.


Speed of Translation Verification and Motivations for Code-Switching: Does Language Brokering Make a Difference?

Belem G. López and Jyotsna Vaid, Texas A&M University


Language brokering refers to the practice of informal translation prevalent in many immigrant or refugee communities whereby children are called upon to serve as linguistic and cultural intermediaries on behalf of family or community members. Previous work on this topic has primarily addressed sociocultural and psychological correlates of brokering experience, e.g., in relation to parentification, stress, self-efficacy, academic attainment, acculturation, etc. (see Morales & Hanson, 2005, for a review). Research in our lab has sought to extend inquiry into the impact of brokering by exploring long term cognitive, linguistic, and affective repercussions of language brokering experience. Our studies have typically used a quasi-experimental approach in which we compare the performance of proficient bilingual adults with prior brokering experience (“brokers”) with bilinguals without such experience (“non-brokers”).  Tasks we have  studied to date include ambiguity detection, sound segmentation, plausibility judgments, and category exemplar generation (see Vaid & López, in prep.; Vaid, Milliken, López & Rao, 2011). Here we present findings from two additional domains: translation verification and code-switching. In the former case we hypothesized that brokers would be significantly faster than non-brokers at translation verification of idiomatic expressions, reflecting their prior experience as informal translators. In the latter study we hypothesized that brokers might be more likely than non-brokers to report engaging in code-switching for social/interpersonal reasons (e.g., to show solidarity, to make someone feel more comfortable, or to show closeness) than for  expressive or other reasons. Participants in both studies were Spanish-English speakers recruited from a large university in central Texas. In both studies our expectations were confirmed. We suggest that studying heritage language users from the perspective of differences in the extent of prior informal translation experience provides a way of systematically examining psycho- and sociolinguistic repercussions of variation within bilingual communities instead of foregrounding comparisons between bilinguals and monolinguals.


Contact effects from English onto Bengali:  The Case of Copular Predicates

Tridha Chatterjee and Marlyse Baptista, University of Michigan


The presence of the British in India dates back to the early 1600s and ended with Independence in 1947.  Not surprisingly, the English language has had and continues to exert much influence on Indian languages, particularly after British English was established as a language of instruction in Indian schools in the second half of the 19th century. While studies like Kachru (1979) and Bhatia (1982) have examined the influence of English on Hindi, no study has investigated how English has impacted other major languages like Bengali.  The objective of this paper is to fill this gap by examining specific grammatical modules where such influences may be detected.  This study provides a diachronic and synchronic overview of copular predicates in Bengali.

Methodologically, we examined a portion of a Bengali play Nil Darpan published in

1860, prior to the dominance of English in education.  We compared the use of copulas in this play to their use in both monolingual and bilingual speakers of Bengali, based on field work corpora.

We noted the presence of Bengali copulas ach, chilo and thaka in both the play and the speakers in our corpora.  Bengali is SOV and a copula like ach appears sentence-finally:


1.              e               ghɔr-er                    moddhe                 bhut       ach-e

This         house-LOC           inside                      ghost     exist.PRS-3P.PRS

There are ghosts inside this house. (BP)


In addition to the copulas mentioned above, our monolingual and bilingual Bengali corpus data also show evidence of another copula like element hocche ‘be-PRS.PROG-3P’ occurring mostly in equational sentences containing two NPs. The examination of thirty pages of the 1860 play reveals a distribution of 24 equational sentences without the occurrence of any copula whatsoever. All these 24 sentences have the structure ‘NP NP’, as seen in (2). There is not a single occurrence of a ‘NP be NP’ structure in the portion of the play we studied.


2.              Tini                            di:n-er                     rokkhok

2sg.HON                poor-GEN              keeper

He/She  (is) the keeper of the poor.           (BP)


In contrast to the 1860 play, the modern Bengali corpus data reveals 15 occurrences of equational sentences with the ‘NP be NP’ structure.  In modern Bengali the copula in equational sentences is not obligatory but can certainly be overt, as shown in (3).


3.              Tar           baba                        ho-cch-e                                  ei              bisshobiddaloy-er            oddhapok

3sg.GEN  father                   be-PRS.PROG-3P                this         university-GEN                    professor

His/her father is a professor at this university (Thompson 2010)

The occurrence of this copula within NP + NP structure in modern Bengali, which is unattested in the

1860 play shows that this construction is possibly a result of English influence, where the copula is obligatory.  In addition to the fact that this copula can occur, it is important to note that it occupies the same position as the English copula, unlike other Bengali copulas that occur sentence-finally. The

presence and distribution of hocche in modern Bengali combined with its absence from the play may be interpreted as evidence that this construction may be the result of English influence on Bengali, due to longstanding contact between the two language.


Sociolinguistic Issues and Migration in Ireland: A Study of Polish and Chinese Speakers of Irish-English

Chloé Diskin, University College Dublin, Ireland

Taking a sociolinguistic approach to Second Language Acquisition, this presentation examines language variation and change among adult speakers of English as an L2. It looks at Polish and Chinese migrants who came to Dublin during the economic boom years and poses the question whether these migrants, having not been exposed to Irish-English previously, can acquire this variety. If so, which features do they use and why?

It has been shown that the fluency with which a non-native speaker uses discourse-pragmatic markers in the L2 is an indication of their level of integration into the speech community (Sankoff et al. 1997). A relationship between language and ethnicity has been established in works such as D’Arcy (2010).

This presentation will firstly discuss the acquisition and use of discourse-pragmatic markers (like, you know and I mean) and quotatives by L2 speakers of Irish-English. It will discuss the rate, type and function of use of these features as compared to a native speaker sample. Initial analyses have shown that there are marked differences, which may not all be explained by differences in language proficiency.

Secondly, it will examine qualitatively the views of recently-arrived migrants towards Irish-English and aim to ascertain whether acquisition of the variety is viewed as a key aspect of integration. It will also look more generally at the link between language and identity and the participants’ views of transnationalism and cosmopolitanism within a post-industrial migration context.

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Bilingual Mixed Languages

Felicity Meakins – University of Queensland
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2427 Mason Hall

See Course Description

Bilingual mixed languages are the result of the fusion of two identifiable source languages, normally in situations of community bilingualism. As recently as the 1990s, the existence of these languages had often been denied or labelled as cases of code-switching, adstrate influence or borrowing (see e.g. Greenberg 1999). Nonetheless they were brought to the attention of contact linguistics by Thomason and Kaufman (1988) as a legitimate form of contact language. Since then a number of edited volumes, papers and monographs have drawn together substantial amounts of data from various languages which have been identified as being ‘mixed’. This course focuses on a number of these languages including Angloromani (England), Bilingual Navajo (US), Gurindji Kriol (Australia), Helsinki Slang (Finland), Light Warlpiri (Australia), Ma’á (Tanzania), Media Lengua (Ecuador), Mednyj Aleut (Bering Strait) and Michif (Canada). Topics to be covered in this course include the socio-historical and structural origins and features of mixed languages; linguistic innovation and continuity in mixed languages; and the relationship of mixed languages to other forms of language contact such as code-switching, borrowing, metatypy and creolisation. A number current issues will also be covered including whether mixed language phonologies are stratified; whether mixed languages can be considered autonomous language systems; and how to characterise variation in mixed languages.

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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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Ad Backus – Tilburg University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2407 Mason Hall

See Course Description

In this course, we’ll explore the phenomenon of codeswitching, both for its own sake and for what it can tell us about language in general. Overall, codeswitching and contact-induced change will be confronted with the usage-based approach to linguistic competence, providing what could be called a usage-based contact linguistics.

Code-switching is the use of overt material from two or more different languages. It is very common in the speech of bi- and multilinguals the world over, and has attracted the attention of all kinds of linguists, from different sub-branches and  different theoretical persuasions. The class will provide a brief historical overview, in order to map the various contributions to the understanding of the phenomenon, and assess to what degree the study of code-switching is a coherent field (or not).

The usage-based approach will be shown to be relevant for the study of codeswitching and contact-induced language change because it has the potential to unite various strands of CS research that are up to now not much in contact, locked as they are in different corners of the discipline, and studied through different theoretical lenses. To do this, it will be necessary to study codeswitching in conjunction with other contact phenomena, primarily loan translation and grammatical interference, and to do so on both synchronic and diachronic planes. Traditionally, codeswitching is looked at from a self-contained purely synchronic point of view only; the course will explore to what degree a diachronic perspective can enrich both the account of the phenomenon itself and of its embedding in general linguistics. Seen this way, the study of codeswitching allows new windows on the essence of language.

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