LINGUIST List 32.2587

Sat Aug 07 2021

FYI: Official Launch of the Migration Linguistics Unit

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 05-Aug-2021
From: Ariane Borlongan <>
Subject: Official Launch of the Migration Linguistics Unit
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Official Launch of the Migration Linguistics Unit

September 28, 2021
8:00PM Tokyo
7:00AM Boston
12:00PM London
1:00PM Frankfurt
6:00PM Bangkok
7:00PM Manila
9:00PM Sydney
Zoom and Facebook Live


TUFS Migration Linguistics Unit website:

Part 1: Overview of the Migration Linguistics Unit
Ariane Macalinga Borlongan

Part 2: Inaugural Lecture: ‘Migration, Sociolinguistic Typology, and Language Change’
Paul Kerswill

With increasing migration across the world, there is a corresponding increase in language contact. While existing accounts of contact remain valid, such as those of Thomason & Kaufman 1988, van Coutsem (2000) and Thomason (2000), it is relevant now to broaden our understanding of the relationship between contact, language change and social structures in the context of high migration. In his sociolinguistic typology model, Trudgill (2010) provides a framework with the capacity to predict the kinds of language structures that are likely to be found in particular types societies. Trudgill (2010: 300) summarises the relevant factors as follows: (1) small vs. large community size, (2) dense vs. loose social networks, (3) social stability vs. instability, (4) high vs. low degree of shared information, and (5) degree of contact vs. isolation. With these in mind, Trudgill (2020) discusses factors which lead to rapid vs. slow language change: the fundamental pattern is that disruption of networks, caused by contact through migration or other rapid social change, accelerates language change. I argue that, with current levels of migration, it is now both feasible and important to test Trudgill’s predictions by applying them directly to contact-induced change in present-day societies. Trudgill’s model is based on data across time depths of centuries or millennia, coupled with overall characterisations of the social structures of the societies involved. I will consider published studies of today’s speech communities from the point of view of the parameters listed above. As an adjunct to the investigation, I will argue that a related model proposed by Andersen (1988) adds further insights. This is the idea that, in addition to being high-contact versus low-contact (Trudgill’s fifth parameter), societies vary on a scale from being very inward-looking to being strongly oriented to social and linguistic influences from outside. As a further factor, I will add one not specifically raised by Trudgill or Andersen: this is the degree to which the society has a strong monolingual ethos (e.g. China, Japan, France) or a multilingual one (India, many countries in Southeast Asia, Africa). In the former case, language change is inhibited, even in the face of large-scale immigration, while in the latter case there is an increase in societal and individual multilingualism.

Paul Kerswill is Emeritus Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of York, UK. He holds a PhD from Cambridge, and worked at Durham, Cambridge, Reading and Lancaster universities before being appointed to a chair at York, from where he retired in July 2021. He is Fellow of the British Academy. Most of his research has been on the linguistic and sociolinguistic effects of migration, with a particular focus on dialect contact. His doctoral study was on rural migrants in Bergen, Norway. His later research has centred on the Southeast of England, beginning with an investigation of the new contact accent of the New Town of Milton Keynes. He is best known for his work with Jenny Cheshire and others on Multicultural London English, a distinctive new dialect that has emerged following large-scale immigration, multilingualism and unguided second-language acquisition. He also has an interest on language and development issues in Ghana, on which he has published.

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Page Updated: 07-Aug-2021