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Conference Information

Full Title: New Historical Perspectives on Non-Dominant Speakers as Agents of Contact-Induced Language Change

Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Start Date: 04-Aug-2016 - 04-Aug-2017
Contact: Petros Karatsareas
Meeting Email: click here to access email
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Meeting Description: Since the publication of Weinreich’s (1953) seminal work, the accepted view in the study of language change has been that contact-induced innovations are introduced into a given language by bi-/multilingual speakers, that is, speakers who have competence in two or more linguistic systems. It is now well-known that bi-/multilinguals may allow for one of their languages to influence the lexicon and/or the grammar of their other language(s) or, put differently, for one of their languages to borrow lexical and/or grammatical material and patterns from their other languages (this has variably been referred to as ‘interference’ or ‘transfer’, after Weinreich, 1953). Given the right sociolinguistic circumstances, borrowings can subsequently spread not only among other bi-/multilingual speakers but also among monolingual speakers of the language undergoing the change (Moravcsik, 1978; Thomason & Kaufman, 1988; Fisiak, 1995; Aikhenvald & Dixon, 2001, 2006; Field, 2002; Johanson, 2002; Jones & Esch, 2002; Myers-Scotton, 2002; Clyne, 2003; Winford, 2003; Heine & Kuteva, 2005; Matras & Sakel, 2007; Matras, 2009; Hickey, 2010).

In spite of its fundamental importance in the study of contact-induced language change, the very notion of bi-/multilingual speaker remains inadequately incorporated into most theories that have been developed to date. With a few notable exceptions (van Coetsem, 1998, 2000; Winford, 2005; Matras, 2009), many frameworks seem to use the term in a surprisingly loose manner and in its most basic sense (i.e. as someone who speaks two/many languages). This approach, however, does not profit from recent psycholinguistic research which highlights the multitude of different linguistic outcomes that bi-/multilingual acquisition (including attrition) can have. This recent research has also shown that different types of bi-/multilingual speakers can result from the interplay of such factors as the order in which the two (or more) languages are acquired, the age of acquisition in each language, and the amount and type of input that speakers receive in each language, all of which can vary in different sociolinguistic settings of bi-/multilingualism: simultaneous child bilinguals, sequential child bilinguals, adult L2 learners, child L2 learners, heritage speakers, L1 attriters (e.g. Li, 1994; Montrul, 2008, 2016; Meisel, 2011; Meisel et al., 2013).

The aim of this workshop is to address this shortcoming by incorporating insights from the most recent advances in the study of bi-/multilingual acquisition into diachronic accounts of historical cases of contact-induced language change. Our focus is on changes that were brought about by (types of) speakers who were not dominant in the language undergoing change. Consider, for example, the innovations that Turkish-dominant speakers introduced into the grammar of the Cappadocian Greek dialects (see Winford, 2005: 402–409 for an analysis in terms of van Coetsem’s notions of imposition and S(ource)L(anguage) agentivity), or the spread of the uvular /r/ from French among many western European languages (for an overview, see Trudgill, 1974).

This Workshop during the 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics will take place on August 4th from 9:00-16:45.

Keynote speaker:

Joe Salmons - Lester W.J. “Smoky” Seifert Professor of Germanic Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin and Executive Editor of Diachronica

Workshop Conveners:

Petros Karatsareas, University of Westminster,
Jonathan Kasstan, Queen Mary University of London,
Linguistic Subfield: Historical Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics; Sociolinguistics
LL Issue: 27.3478

This is a session of the following meeting:
International Conference on Historical Linguistics 23

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