Tag Archives: Socio/LingAnth
6/26 If These Knishes Could Talk: The Story of New York Accents

Pizza and a Film

If These Knishes Could Talk: The Story of the New York Accents
A documentary by Heather Quinlan
June 26, 2013 7PM
Angell Hall, Auditorium C

Pizza served beginning at 7pm

6/29-30 Diachronic Syntax

June 29-30, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: David Lightfoot (lightd@georgetown.edu)

Click here for Workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Work on diachronic syntax has developed remarkably over recent decades, primarily through two impetuses: (i) seeking to explain change in I-language through changes in E-language and principles of language acquisition, and (ii) using search mechanisms linked to computerized corpora of partially parsed historical texts.  The workshop will be devoted to exploring these developments.  Both developments link work on sociolinguistic variation with the emergence of new I-languages and this will be an emphasis of the workshop.

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6/29-30 Workshop on Integrating the Study of African American English into Linguistics Curricula

June 29-30, 2013
2407 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Sonja Lanehart (Sonja.Lanehart@utsa.edu)

See Workshop Description

As institutions of higher learning place more emphasis on undergraduate research and education, there will be a greater demand for undergraduate courses that offer a wide range of experiences for students. General education requirements and integrative education initiatives call for expansion of approaches in undergraduate linguistics courses. In addition to introducing students to content and methods of analysis in the discipline, linguistics courses will also have to provide clear opportunities for students to use critical thinking skills in problem solving and carrying out assignments, address real world problems, and consider issues from multiple perspectives. This workshop focuses on integrating African American English (AAE) into linguistics curricula, moving beyond introducing isolated concepts related to the linguistic system and to the connection between language and society. It focuses on the integration of AAE into linguistics curricula as an entire course as well as a unit in a course from the perspective of three broad goals:

1. To integrate information about AAE with information from “formal” and experimental courses in linguistics
2. To provide explicit opportunities for students to apply critical thinking skills to problems in the study of AAE
3. To extend information about AAE to challenging questions, issues, and real world problems in areas such as “formal” approaches to the study of AAE and language acquisition in AAE-speaking communities and education

Part 1 of the workshop presents a general overview that considers definitions of AAE that are based on information about speakers, “unique” features, varieties of English and other languages, and linguistic systems. In addition myths, attitudes, beliefs, and ideology, as well as discourse and identity and the use of AAE versus appropriation of features are addressed in Part 1 of the workshop. Part 2 of the workshop considers the linguistic system, including current views about variation. Data, problem sets, and sources will be presented, and workshop participants will have the opportunity to develop and work through mini lessons on AAE.

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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7/06-07 Variation and Syntax: Where are we now, and where do we go next?

July 6-7, 2013
2353 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Jeffrey Parrott (jkparrott@gmail.com)

Click here for workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Alan Munn, Michigan State University
Jeffrey Keith Parrott, University of Copenhagen

Supported by the National Science Foundation BCS-1265444

Invited speakers:
David Adger, Queen Mary, University of London
Leonie Cornips, Meertens Institute, Amsterdam
Bill Haddican, Queens College, City University of New York
Cristina Schmitt, Michigan State University
Jennifer Smith, University of Glasgow
Sali Tagliamonte, University of Toronto

For at least the past two decades there has been a growing interest in the reconciliation of sociolinguistic variation and syntactic theory. These vital fields of inquiry have been estranged virtually since their inception, with longstanding disputes mainly centered on fundamental methodological and theoretical issues. However, recent work (e.g., Adger & Smith 2005; Adger 2006; Adger & Smith 2010; Nevins & Parrott 2010, among others) has demonstrated that variationist empirical methods are indeed well suited for investigating variable phenomena of relevance to syntactic theorizing, and furthermore that independently developing theories of syntax and its interfaces have become sufficiently articulated that plausible mechanisms of intra- and inter-individual variation can be proposed. Thus, the purpose of this workshop is not only to synthesize our current understanding of syntactic variation, but to stimulate future collaborative research beyond the conventional domains of either variationist sociolinguistics or theoretical syntax. For instance, application of both variationist empirical methods and refined theoretical concepts (e.g., Adger 2010; Parrott 2012) to the study of second- or first-language acquisition (e.g., Smith et al. 2007; 2009; Parrott 2009), multi-lingualism or -dialectalism, language/dialect attrition or death, heritage languages or dialects, or other emerging topics increases the potential for unification of an even greater scope. To such ends, the workshop is primarily aimed at students and young researchers and features three invited one-hour lectures and up to fourteen 30-minute talks, along with panel commentary, small group collaboration, and plenty of time allotted for general discussion.

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7/07 Examples in Revitalization Fieldwork – Anishinaabemowin in the Great Lakes

July 7, 2013, 10 am – 1 pm
2407 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Meg Noori (mnoori@umich.edu)

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This workshop will focus on the tools and techniques of language revitalization. The workshop will focus on Anishinaabemowin, an endangered North American language.  Used in several provinces and states in the US and Canada, Anishinaabemowin is the heritage language of over 200 native nations.  Although there are numerous dialects, it provides the structural core of language shared by Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Odawa people, also known as the Three Fires Confederacy.  For hundreds of years, the language has been written by traders, translators and teachers.  Despite its widespread history and level of literacy, Anishinaabemowin declined in use during colonization and only recently has the younger generation begun seeking ways to incorporate it into their daily lives.

Fieldwork in Anishinaabemowin requires a strong awareness of dialect similarities and differences as well as generational variance in use and support.  All contacts need to be placed in historical and cultural context in order to maximize the potential use of any linguistic data gathered.  We will talk about phonological, as well as ethnographic data.  We will also look at how to best capture important information while meeting both the linguists’ needs as well as the cultural and curricular needs of the community.

With a particular emphasis on song, ceremony and poetics, we will listen to lyrics from the early 1900s, mid 1900s and the present and attempt to document important linguistic and cultural detail.  Questions for discussion will include: What meta-data is important to gather about recordings?  How can data not volunteered be surmised and respected? What phonological elements vary and how does linguistic and folk representation of sound impact an archive? How can speakers and scholars combine their knowledge of morphological elements?

Lastly, we will talk about the politics of representation and preservation and explore some of the ways Anishinaabemowin is archived at the University of Michigan in Deep Blue, the Bentley Library, in linguistics and language curriculum and on www.ojibwe.net and Facebook.

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7/13-14 Globalization and the End of Linguistic Diversity: Historical, Legal and Sociolinguistic Aspects of Cultural Genocide

July 13-14, 2013
2353 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Viola Miglio (miglio@spanport.ucsb.edu)

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UNESCO considers the loss of cultural and linguistic diversity as serious a danger for future generations as the loss of bio-­diversity is for nature (2003, 8). The rate of language extinction has increased enormously over the past 200 years, and even more since the middle of the past century (Krauss 2007, Salminen 1993). Globalization is seen as the loss of relevance of national borders, especially through technical means, as such it can be seen as promoting intercultural contact. Globalization, however, also entails the support of first world economies, through the efficient export of goods from industrialized countries and the management of cultural diversity in terms of potential markets for the consumption of those goods -­‐ thus a ‘global culture’ means in fact a culture of consumption (Banerjee & Linstead 2001). As such, it is a threat to cultural and linguistic diversity and it can accelerate language attrition and death.

This workshop aims at examining the social, historical, political factors and legal practices that have led to the attrition and endangerment of a number of languages in Europe and other parts of the world. The situation of Basque, Breton, Friulian, and Gallo-­‐Italic languages will be analyzed in depth, highlighting the combined effect of language policy on the demographic, and socio-­‐cultural development of these language communities over the past 200 years. Part of the workshop will be devoted to studying policies and practices aimed at reversing language attrition, and comparing the European cases with Canada and the USA.

The legal history of linguistic rights shows that while the right to speak and receive an education in one’s own language has been recognized since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (1948), the everyday reality of such a basic human right varies widely from country to country, or even within countries. Particularly striking, moreover, is the fact that despite the variability inherent in the socio-­‐cultural conditions of different linguistic communities, the legal instruments of repression, the philosophical arguments that support it and the practices of marginalization that lead to ‘cultural genocide’ are very similar regardless of the time and place where they are applied. So are their sinister results.

These similarities arise out of the recognition that language is one of the supporting pillars of ethnic and cultural identity: by analyzing the role of language in this context, this workshop also conceives of ‘the study of language as a central component of human cultures, social action and perception,’ a theme highlighted by the 2013 LSA Institute.



Banerjee, S. B. and S. Linstead. 2001. Globalization, Multiculturalism, and Other Fictions: Colonialism for the New Millenium? Organization, vol. 8(4):683-­722.

Krauss, M. E. 2007. “Keynote -­‐ Mass Language Extinction and Documentation: The Race Against Time”. In Miyaoka, O., O. Sakiyama, and M. E. Krauss (eds.). The Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 3–24.  

Salminen, T. 1993-­‐9. UNESCO Red Book on Endangered Languages: Europe. http://www.helsinki.fi/~tasalmin/europe_report.html

UNESCO 2003 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in the Information Society (CI-­‐2003/WS/7)

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7/14 How the Brain Accommodates Variability in Linguistic Representations

July 14, 2013
Aud C, Angell Hall

Organizer Contact: T. Florian Jaeger (fjaeger@bcs.rochester.edu)

Click here for workshop website.

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Attitudes, Ideologies, Variation, and Change

Dennis Preston – Oklahoma State University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
1401 Mason Hall

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Research about beliefs about language and reactions to it has gone beyond interest in such matters for their own sake, and researchers have used internal, classificatory mechanisms related to attitudes and beliefs to explain both the deployment of linguistic resources and the paths of language change. This course will examine historical and current trends in the study of attitudes and ideologies with reference to their role in more structured accounts of language variation and change. We begin with Hymesian ethnographic studies and social psychological approaches to attitude as developed by Lambert et al. Early uses of ideology and attitude in variationist studies will also be noted, and the continuation of the Hymesian tradition by linguistic anthropologists will be discussed. The course next elaborates on two recent turns — indexicality, as developed by Silverstein, and accounts of variability in linguistic theory, as suggested in attempts to build variable OT representations and the attaching of sociocultural information to forms in exemplar theory. The course also evaluates trends in both discoursal and experimental investigations. In the first, we look at content analyses, at linguistic anthropologists’ use of interaction in extracting ideologies from actions, and at more recent attempts to link attitudinal and ideological content to form in critical discourse analysis as well as proposals to link form and attitude by means of pragmatic analyses. Finally, we investigate task-based and experimental procedures in identifying and interpreting attitudes and ideologies, ranging from overt tasks such as those used in work on perceptual dialectology, including very recent uses of georeferencing techniques, to matched-guise and experimental response settings that seek to expose respondents’ unconscious reactions. We will look carefully at the design of experiments that relate attitudinal and ideological factors to structural elements, including techniques developed in social psychology in implicit research design. We conclude with an overview of the cognitive foundations of attitudinal and ideological processing, touching on acquisition, change, and deployment.

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Bilingual Mixed Languages

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

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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

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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

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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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Computational Modeling of Sound Change

James Kirby – University of Edinburgh
Morgan Sonderegger – McGill University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

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Decades of empirical research have led to an increasingly nuanced picture of the nature of phonetic and phonological change, incorporating insights from speech production and perception, cognitive biases, and social factors. However, there remains a significant gap between observed patterns and proposed mechanisms, in part due to the difficulty of conducting the type of controlled studies necessary to test hypotheses about historical change. Computational and mathematical models provide an alternative means by which such hypotheses can be fruitfully explored. With an eye towards Box’s dictum (all models are wrong, but some are useful), this course asks: how can computational models be useful for understanding why phonetic and phonological change occurs?  Students will study the growing and varied literature on computational and mathematical modeling of sound change that has emerged over the past decade and a half, including models of phonetic change in individuals over the lifespan, phonological change in speech communities in historical time, and lexical diffusion. Discussion topics will include the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches (e.g.simulation-based vs. mathematical models); identifying which modeling frameworks are best suited for particular types of research questions; and methodological considerations in modeling phonetic and phonological change. For this course, some background in probability theory, single-variable calculus, and/or linear algebra is helpful but not required.

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Ethnolinguistic Repertoires in American English

Elaine Chun – University of South Carolina
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

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This course explores the relationship between the English language and ethnicity in the United States by merging anthropological understandings of race and ethnicity with sociolinguistic methods of description and analysis. In doing so, it introduces students to both traditional and current models of language and ethno-racial identity. Specifically, the course explores sociolinguistic assumptions that may equate “race/ethnicity” with “non-whiteness,” that overlook the inherent relationships between racial categories, and that treat race as isolatable dimension. It will also question conceptions of ethno-racial language as an objective set of features by considering how language is a sociocultural set of practices and resources that produce meanings, identities, and ideologies.

The course will introduce students to a range of ethnolectal models that have been traditionally adopted as well as the problems and politics inherent in them. In particular, it will explore sites across the United States that complicate traditional models, including communities in which groups defy easy categorization in a black-white racial paradigm, cases in which speakers use features associated with racial outgroups, and speakers who simultaneously index gendered, classed, and racialized meanings. The course will additionally emphasize the real-world relevance of studying language and race, namely be considering racist and anti-racist language practices in institutional and media contexts.

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Individual Differences in Sound Change

Jeff Mielke – University of Ottawa
Alan Yu – University of Chicago
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2407 Mason Hall

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One of the great mysteries of linguistics is the so-called actuation problem, first articulated in Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog 1968, and still largely unanswered to this day. The question is what causes the inception of language change, if the linguistic conditions favoring particular changes are always present? Previous studies on sound change have mainly focused on group effects, that is, effects observed in a population as a whole. Recent work has drawn on interspeaker variation for a solution to the actuation puzzle. The main impetus for considering individual differences in the context of sound change comes from the need to build a linking theory that bridges the gap between the emergence of new linguistic variants and their eventual propagation.

This course will explore sources of individual linguistic differences, and the role they may play in the initiation and propagation of sound change.  Idiosyncratic variation provides an opportunity to understand the limits and flexibility of the human capacity for language, and to better understand the observed properties of natural languages, which are systems that must be shared by individuals who differ from each other in important ways.  We will focus on three types of individual-level factors that have been implicated in language variation and change, namely covert linguistic/phonetic differences (e.g., differences in lexicon, articulation, and cue weighting), social-attitudinal matters, and neuro-cognitive factors.

Students enrolling in this course should have at least one course in phonetics and/or phonology.

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Institute Spotlight Thursday

Join us for this week’s Spotlight Thursday featuring Walt Wolfram!

Walt Wolfram is the 2013 Institute’s American Dialect Society Professor, a sociolinguist, and the William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University. He is the director of the North Carolina Language and Life Project, an organization that focuses on research, graduate and undergraduate education, and outreach programs related to language in the American South. He has published over 20 books and 300 articles, and was an early pioneer in the study of African American English, conducting some of the earliest fieldwork on the variety in Detroit in 1969.

He is responsible for articulating the principle of linguistic gratuity which encourages linguists to give back to the communities they collect data from, and is also active in disseminating the fruits of sociolinguistic research to the public sphere. Last week we also featured his comments about the importance of the 1973 Linguistic Institute, the last Institute that was held at the University of Michigan.


Language Contact

Sally Thomason – University of Michigan
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2336 Mason Hall

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Because language contact is a fact of life for most of the world’s people and all of the world’s nations, it is hardly surprising that it often plays a major role in language change.  This course will begin (Week 1) with a survey of historical, social, and political settings of language contact (when, where, and why do languages come into contact?) and with a consideration of this question: when two languages come into contact, is one of them doomed to vanish within a few decades?  These background discussions will serve as an introduction to the main focus of the course: contact-induced language change.  The main topics that will be covered in Week 2 are social and linguistic predictors of the effects of language contact (together with a discussion of why they can never be expected to yield deterministic predictions); the effects of contact-induced language change on the structure of the receiving language; and criteria for establishing contact as a cause of a language change (and how to react when the criteria can’t all be met).  In Week 3 we will consider mechanisms of contact-induced change and linguistic areas as a special problem for the study of contact and change, and in Week 4 we’ll focus on mixed languages (pidgins, creoles, and bilingual mixed languages) and contact-induced changes in some (not all) dying languages.

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Language Ideology

Susan Gal – University of Chicago
Judy Irvine – University of Michigan

Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2306 Mason Hall

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“Language ideologies” are the conceptualizations people have about the languages, speakers, and discursive practices in their purview. Both embedded in practices and reflexive of them, language ideologies are pervaded with political and moral interests, and are shaped in a cultural setting. To study language ideologies is to explore the nexus of language, culture, and politics – to examine the representations, whether explicit or implicit, that construe language’s role in a social and cultural world and that are themselves acts within it. This course considers current topics and debates in the study of language ideologies, such as: what should we mean by “ideology”? What is ideological in conceptions of “language” itself? In what ways are language ideologies positioned, with respect to distributions of power and resources? What are the sites of language ideologies – the practices and scenes in which they are enacted (and revealed)? What is the role of language ideologies in organizing social identities, groups, boundaries, and activities? How do language ideologies influence linguistic and social change? We will consider these questions in the light of case materials representing a wide range of ethnographic, historical, and linguistic circumstances.

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Language Variation and Thought

John A. Lucy – University of Chicago
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2407 Mason Hall

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This course will explore research on the significance of natural language variation in shaping human thought.  The first unit of the course provides essential background by introducing historical and conceptual perspectives on the relation of language and reality that continue to shape our understanding of language variation and by surveying early work in anthropology (Boas, Sapir, Whorf) and psychology (Brown, Lenneberg, Carroll) linking language variation to thought.  Classic topics involving lexical forms denoting “color” and “snow” will be discussed critically.  The second unit reviews and contrasts prominent contemporary approaches from within anthropological linguistics, including both structure-centered approaches (Lucy et al.) and domain-centered approaches (Levinson et al.), as well as several influential approaches within psychology (Slobin, Boroditsky).  The discussions will highlight both continuities and innovations with respect to earlier work.  The third unit will review recent research extending these approaches to new populations including the deaf, young children, bilinguals, etc.  These approaches not only offer avenues to exploring underlying mechanisms but also open up ways of theorizing the centrality and trade-offs of relying on language in human thought.  The final unit will explore variations in the cultural and institutional regimentation of language-thought relationships, first in the areas of standard language as promulgated through education and literacy, and then within the research enterprise itself in areas involving practical translation, including comparative linguistic research.  Readings will be drawn from many fields but will emphasize classic works that emphasize comparative, developmental, and critical approaches and provide a foundation for further research.  Class time will be divided between general orienting lectures on theoretical issues and close discussion of key empirical works.

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Pidgins and Creoles: Social and Cognitive Aspects

Marlyse Baptista – University of Michigan
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2333 Mason Hall

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Some of the most compelling questions in the field of pidgins and creoles consist in identifying the linguistic sources and cognitive forces that shape a given creole: why does a particular creole look and sound the way it does? Where do its linguistic properties come from? What are the original populations and languages that contributed to its genesis?  This investigation ultimately hopes to shed light on two major cognitive questions:  how does the mind pull together linguistic materials from distinct sources to form a creole? What is the nature of the cognitive processes involved in creole formation?  In exploring some of these queries, this particular course will focus on the processes of convergence, relexification and grammaticalization and will contrast, regarding the latter point, general theories of grammaticalization (Lehmann, 2002; Hopper & Traugott, 2003; Fischer, 2007) with their generative (Van Gelderen, 2004) and usage-based (Tomasello, 2005; (Boyer & Harder, 2012) counterparts.  Comparing these approaches will allow us to gauge how each framework accounts for specific aspects of creole grammars and to assess their contribution to our understanding of how creole languages develop.   Besides its focus on cognitive issues in creole formation, other major topics in this course will include:

1) Socio-historical contexts of creole genesis, how a distinct history of population contact results in distinct structural outcomes;

2) examination of the morpho-syntactic properties of a set of creole languages;

3) contributions of L1 and L2 to the emergence of creole specific features.

Students enrolling in this class should have taken and introductory course in linguistics.

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Sentences and the Social: Representing Syntactic Variation

Julie Boland – University of Michigan
Lauren Squires – Ohio State University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2333 Mason Hall

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Knowing the grammar of your language entails understanding how meanings map to syntactic structures, but these mappings are not strictly one-to-one.  We know, for example, that “Chris gave the book to Kim”  and “Chris gave Kim the book” are semantically equivalent and interchangeable. Likewise, we know “That car don’t run” is semantically equivalent to “That car doesn’t run,” but the two expressions are not interchangeable because the former is sociolinguistically marked. In this class, we explore the intersection of syntactic variation and sentence processing. Our approach assumes that knowledge of syntactic alternants, and of the social patterning of those alternants, is incorporated into our mental representations of grammar. As such, this knowledge should also be reflected in psycholinguistic theories. We will consider current theorizing that bears on this topic, and its limitations. Readings and discussion will address the following set of issues:

1. How do children deal with syntactic variation in the input?

2. How do adults represent and acquire syntactic variants that they themselves don’t use?

3. What is the role of language variation in sentence processing?

4. How do/can current models of linguistic competence and processing accommodate syntactic variation?

This course will be taught seminar-style, with students leading some of the discussions. The readings will focus on recent experimental research using a variety of online and offline methodologies. Students will work together to develop research proposals, which they will present to the class and write up as a final paper.

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Sociocultural Discourse Analysis

Barb Meek – University of Michigan
Susan Philips – University of Arizona
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:20 pm
2325 Mason Hall

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The purpose of this course is to provide training in discourse analysis that focuses on how culture is manifest in discourse practices.  Recordings of socially occurring speech render relatively ephemeral speech in a material and permanent form that gives it cultural reliability and repeatability not available in data collected through other anthropological/ethnographic research methods such as participant observation and note taking.  Topics include: 1) Research design.  When is recording useful, appropriate, and ethical; what kinds of activities will be recorded and how much material in hours will be recorded? 2) Transcription, translation and computer entry of recordings.  How to choose what to transcribe and how much to transcribe; in-field versus after-fieldwork transcription and translation; selection of transcription formats and software for coding data.  3) Analysis based on recordings, transcripts and coding of transcripts. Using the comparative method, identification of relevant units of interaction and their internal sequencing; comparison of multiple instances of the same units of interaction; comparison of multiple kinds of units of interaction and forms of talk; relating discourse analysis to other kinds of data concerning forms of local knowledge in order to make claims for sociocultural processes greater in scale than the discourse data.  4) Analysis of linguistic structures crucial to the interactional constitution of cultural processes, e.g. mood/modality; agency; evidentiality.  This will be a hands-on course involving analysis of data provided by the instructors.  This approach can serve scholars interested in how culture and language are mutually constituted through not only socially occurring speech, but also in interviews, in written records and in the media.  The planning and implementation of research in linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, sociolinguistics, and language change can be strengthened by greater knowledge of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of discourse analysis.

Some experience with linguistic analysis/description is preferred, but not required.

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Gerry Docherty – Newcastle University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-7:30 pm; last 2 weeks of Institute only (July 8, 10, 15, 17)
2427 Mason Hall

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Sociophonetic research focuses on the implications for theories of speech production, speech processing and phonological acquisition of the presence of a rich array of social-indexical information inextricably woven into the substance of speech. Research in recent years has shown how this social-indexical channel can be sensitively controlled by speakers, is readily interpretable by listeners, and accessible to language-learners, and findings such as these are starting to have a significant impact on our understanding of different aspects of the speech chain, not least in respect of what we understand as an individual’s “phonological knowledge”. Sociophonetics is also concerned with the application of methods and theories from different areas of phonetic research to the theories and models of phonological variation and change which have arisen most notably from work within variationist sociolinguistics.

This course begins with an evaluation of the factors which have led to such a rapid and really quite sudden convergence of interest in sociophonetics from a number of different directions over the past 15-20 years. It then focuses on the research questions which define the sociophonetics research community, discussing key studies in the field, methodological innovations, and theoretical insights. The material covered will include empirical studies of speech production, perception, and acquisition, the development and application of new experimental methods for investigating sociophonetic questions, and an evaluation of the theoretical innovations associated with this rapidly developing field of research. The course will round off by considering the methodological and theoretical challenges which are likely to shape the next stage in the development of sociophonetic research.

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Sociophonetics of Gender and Sexuality

Rob Podesva – Stanford University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2330 Mason Hall

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This course examines the role of phonetics in the construction of gender and sexuality.  We begin with the premise that phonetic material carries a range of social meanings that themselves are constitutive of gender and sexuality.  Our goals are to review techniques for acoustically quantifying the phonetic characteristics of vowels, consonants, prosody, and voice quality, with an emphasis on those that are used to distinguish speakers on the basis of gender or sexuality; survey classic and current literature on the sociophonetics of gender and sexuality; and unpack the ideological processes that enable language users to forge indexical connections from phonetic forms to gender and sexuality.  In addressing this last issue, we will consider a range of issues, including the following: sounding gay, and as a point of contrast, sounding lesbian; the role of phonetics in constructing transgendered identity; intragender phonetic difference; and the pathologization of young women’s voices in the media, with a focus on the creaky voice (or vocal fry) phenomenon.

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Standard English, Prescriptivism, and Language Ideology

Anne Curzan – University of Michigan
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2407 Mason Hall

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The prescriptive-descriptive binary, a commonplace in most introductory linguistics textbooks, can make it seem like prescriptivism lies outside the purview of serious linguistic study. This course puts prescriptivism at its center, as an important sociolinguistic factor in the development of Modern English as well as a key challenge to linguists in engaging the public in dialogue about linguistic diversity. In this course we will briefly cover the rise of standardization and Standard English in the history of English, and discuss the ways that morality—discourses of good and bad, right and wrong, pure and corrupt—has become entangled with grammar over the past three centuries. The course will tackle the definitions of Standard English and prescriptivism, as well as the nature of standard language ideology and authority. We’ll read a few key theoretical pieces as background and then address: (a) evolving attitudes about the prescriptive authority of usages guides and dictionaries; and (b) “grammar teaching” and Standard English in the educational system. At the end of the course, we will examine recent debates in the national media about language and “correctness” to think through how linguists can most productively engage in public discussions about language given the prescriptive language ideologies in widespread circulation.

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Syntactic Variation: Sentences and Utterances

Ralph Fasold – Georgetown University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2333 Mason Hall

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This course will explore how inherent variability, as asserted by linguistic variation scholarship, can be understood with respect to variation in syntax. We will limit ourselves to what Suzanne Romaine has referred to as “pure syntactic variables”, as opposed to morphosyntactic/ morpholexical, morphophonemic and pure phonological, variables.  The approach to syntax that we will assume is the Minimalist Program (MP) of Noam Chomsky. Relating variation in “pure syntax” to the MP is more daunting than it might at first seem, because MP theory and variation theory are not about the same thing.  MP syntax is about sentences.  Variation analysis is about utterances.  Sentences are abstractions; utterances are observable events. One cannot, strictly speaking, write or speak a sentence, only an utterance approximating one. The course will propose that we need separate approaches to sentences and utterances.  Both contribute to the understanding of language, but are fundamentally separate.

We will take up in detail four cases of “pure” syntactic variation: 1) the alternation among which, that and zero in relative clauses as studied by Tagliamonte et al (2005), 2)  the variation between pronouns and reflexives that exists even where the classic binding theory forbids it, 3) variation in word order in Dutch verb clusters as researched by Barbiers (2005), and 4) the alternation between preposition stranding and pied-piping of WH-noun phrases. The second and third cases emerge from my own research.

The approach will be in-class lectures augmented by Powerpoint slides.  There will be two out-of-class assignments, in which students will be asked to search an online corpus for examples that support or challenge the analyses of reflexives and pied-piping presented in class. The assignments will call for a discussion of how the examples relate to the presented analyses.

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Testimonial Tuesday!

Join us each Tuesday for testimonials from past Institute attendees!

“The 1973 Linguistic Institute at Ann Arbor helped launched the
current “era of sociolinguistics,” inspiring many to pursue a career
dedicated to examining the social life of language. It is only fitting
that we return 40 years later to reexamine the critical role of
language in society. I expect it to be just as inspirational.”

-Walt Wolfram


The Development of Sociolinguistic Competence in Children

Alicia Wassink – University of Washington
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2325 Mason Hall

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This course introduces students to sociolinguistic research exploring a related set of issues at the intersection of child language acquisition research and research into sociolinguistic variation:

What is the timing of the emergence of sociolinguistic variation in children?  In particular:

How does the timing of the production of variation relate to other universal milestones of language development? When do children begin to show perceptual awareness of variation in the linguistic forms produced by others? What do we “know” about the types of social categories children conceptualize and employ in their social lives?

We begin with Dell Hymes’ notion of communicative competence, establishing a basis for understanding the abilities comprising sociolinguistic competence (systemic potential, appropriateness, occurrence, feasibility).  From there, we explore classic linguistic literature regarding milestones of child language acquisition.  We then examine key research focused upon the emergence of variability in children: 1) the history of language variation studies targeting children and preadolescent children, 2) systematic variability in childrens’ output (production), 3) variability in input to children, 4) evidence for language change in second dialect acquisition. We will look at one particular family of models, exemplar models, that seem promising for modeling of the mapping of linguistic form to social meaning in the mind because they can accommodate the types of findings described in the literature we have explored.  We will consider in particular, how and whether metalinguistic commentary from children (their “talk about talk”) might provide insights into the social categories they perceive, and the evolution of linkages between these categories and linguistic forms over time in the exemplar space.

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The Third Wave in Sociolinguistics

Penelope Eckert – Stanford University
Kathryn Campbell-Kibler – Ohio State University

Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 pm
2306 Mason Hall

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Sociolinguistic variation is most widely known for its correlations with broad social categories, particularly as it represents the spread of linguistic change through and across communities. These patterns, however, are the tip of the variation iceberg. Variation offers up a robust social-semiotic system capable of indexing the full range of a community’s social concerns, and of changing with those concerns. The Third Wave approach to variation is based in the understanding that the social-indexical potential of variation is central to the social functioning of language. This course will examine the social meaning of variation up close, and trace the relation between local meaning and the formation of abstract social categories. Topics will cover the nature of stylistic practice, the role of variation in social change, the sources of variables, and the range of indexical functions of variation from affect to stance to persona construction.

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