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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.


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Academic Paper


Title: Age grading in the Montréal French inflected future
Author: Suzanne Evans Wagner
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.msu.edu/~wagnersu
Institution: Michigan State University
Author: Gillian Sankoff
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~gillian/home.html
Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: French
Abstract: The rise of the periphrastic future (PF) at the expense of the inflected future (IF) is an established historical trend in Québécois French over at least the past 150 years. Previous research has also found higher rates of PF among younger speakers, many displaying categorical use in affirmative contexts. Because an apparent time interpretation of the synchronic data fits the historical record, we expected concomitant speaker stability across the lifespan. On the contrary, our panel study of 60 Montréal speakers (1971–1984) reveals age grading in a retrograde direction. As they aged, two-thirds of the speakers we studied increased their frequency of IF, an effect heightened for members of higher socioprofessional groups. Though not sufficiently robust to stem the historical tide, increased IF use by older speakers may retard the change somewhat, providing continuing IF input to child L1 acquisition. Rather than vitiating an apparent time interpretation, these results indicate that the rate of change may be slightly overestimated if age grading acts in a retrograde direction.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Language Variation and Change Vol. 23, Issue 3, which you can read on Cambridge's site .



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