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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."



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Dissertation Information


Title: Creativity in English as a Lingua Franca: Idiom and metaphor Add Dissertation
Author: Marie-Luise Pitzl Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Universit├Ąt Wien, English Studies
Completed in: 2011
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Barbara Seidlhofer
Henry Widdowson

Abstract: This thesis investigates creativity in English as a lingua franca (ELF), i.e. English as it is used in situations where people with different, predominantly non-English, first language backgrounds interact. Building on the findings of current ELF research, the study takes as a starting point the assumption that ELF is generally successful, i.e. effective in communication, in spite of the considerable variability in linguistic forms
it exhibits. Reconciling a descriptive lexicogrammatical as well as an interactional pragmatics perspective, the study proposes that creativity might serve as a fundamental concept in accounting for the variation that seems to be central to ELF. Reviewing a number of theoretical linguistic and non-linguistic approaches, the study defines creativity in relation to the notion of norms. It operates with a form-focused definition of
linguistic creativity which refers to the creation of non-codified linguistic forms and expressions or the non-conventional use of existing ones.

Using this conceptualization of creativity as a basis, the thesis investigates formal characteristics and discourse functions of linguistic creativity at the level of idioms in spoken ELF as represented in the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (VOICE). Central to the study is the question why creative idioms are intelligible and hence successful and effective in ELF conversations. It is proposed that it is the strong
link between idiom and metaphor that is paramount to the intelligibility and functionality of creative idioms in ELF. The methodological approach adopted in order to investigate these phenomena combines a range of theoretical frameworks (sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, corpus linguistics, variation, cognitive and psycholinguistics) which are applied to a new linguistic field, namely the description of ELF.

A major assumption discussed from a theoretical as well as an empirical point of view is that it is the metaphoricity of idioms which makes them amenable to variation in ELF and which renders the resulting creative expressions intelligible to the interlocutors and hence communicatively successful. It is argued that formal variation through linguistic
creativity triggers a process of re-metaphorization that heightens and (re-)emphasizes the metaphoricity of idioms which might be lost in L1 English use. The analysis demonstrates how formal variation transforms idioms from conventional and often (seemingly) non-compositional fixed phrases to creative figurative expressions which are compositional, semantically transparent and can be interpreted as metaphors. An extensive qualitative analysis shows that creative idioms and metaphorical expressions serve a wide range of communicative functions in ELF interactions and therefore are conducive to successful communication at a transactional and interpersonal level.