Abstracts Lesvos 2013

Abstracts 7th HiSoN Summer School


Peter Bakker (Aarhus)
Distinct men's and women's languages

In all societies there are statistical differences between men’s and women’s speech, e.g. in the quantity of tags, interruptions, word choice, range of use of color terms. This course will deal with more extreme differences: distinct male and female languages reported from many parts of the world - most notably in Amazonia, some parts of Africa and Asia. In the course we will provide a global overview of this phenomenon. In some societies the differences between male and female speech are minimal, such as a single phoneme with different realizations, in other societies men and women have been reported to speak completely distinct languages. We will deal with where such gender-divided distinct languages emerged, what the range of differences are between male and female speech, when the separate varieties came about and, last but not least, why. Today we only have the results to go by. We will discuss the sociolinguistic histories that may have led to these rather unusual linguistically segregated speech communities.


Raymond Hickey (Duisberg-Essen)
Phonological typology in English

The sound system of English has changed very considerably in the course of some 1,500 years. It has moved away from an early type, similar to other Germanic languages of today, e.g. German, Dutch or Swedish. There may been periods of major change, e.g. in the Middle English period, and there have been times when prescriptive notions have played a role in the way English was pronounced (in the past few centuries). Furthermore, contact with other languages, both with forms of Celtic in the very early period as well as with Norse (the language of the Vikings) and with French (in different sub-varieties) has also determined the shape of the sound system. Nonetheless, the pronunciation of English shows a remarkable consistency throughout all this change. The common threads in the development and current forms of English are focus for this consideration of its phonology and these will help to show why the many varieties of the present-day language, in England and overseas, are all recognised as forms of the same language.


Gijsbert Rutten (Leiden)
Dutch in modern times

In this course, we will discuss the history of Dutch in modern times, focusing on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Received opinion has it that written Dutch was standardized around 1650, while ongoing microselection rendered the language even more uniform in subsequent periods. Linguistic histories of Dutch, therefore, are a textbook example of the “tunnel vision version” of language history (cf. Trudgill & Watts 2002: 1). Such standard-oriented linguistic histories have been heavily criticized in recent years, and a change of perspective has been called for. This course will introduce the approach to language history “from below” and discuss its relationship to standardization studies. The history of Dutch will be used to demonstrate the approach. We will mainly discuss case studies carried out within the research project Letters as Loot. Throughout the course, we will focus on important methodological and theoretical issues in historical sociolinguistics, such as the concept of writing experience, social stratification, literacy rates and schooling, and the degree to which the written language may reveal the spoken language of the time.

Trudgill, Peter & Richard Watts. 2002. ‘Introduction: In the year 2525’. In Richard Watts & Peter Trudgill (eds.), Alternative histories of English. London: Routledge, 1-3.


Joseph Salmons (UW Madison)
Heritage languages in the US

Recent years have seen an explosion of research into 'heritage languages', tongues spoken predominantly in the home or in otherwise limited domains within a culture where another language is dominant. That work focuses heavily on language structure, and it is providing new insights into bilingualism, language acquisition and other issues. This course situates heritage languages in their historical sociolinguistic context. We will draw our data mostly from the United States and often from Germanic immigrant languages but other languages and settings as well. Issues covered will include variation (regional, social), standardization, institutional use and policy, language change, language shift, and the effects of contact on regional English in the US. We will read and discuss research in progress and draw on data including historical and contemporary recordings, census records, and printed heritage language materials.


Michael Schulte (Agder)
Language contact in Western Scandinavian

In this course ‘contact’ versus ‘isolation’ will be discussed in a broader Norse sociolinguistic setting, cf. also the notion of ‘isolated island communities’. Archeological and saga evidence, for instance, suggest a high degree of travel activities in the 1100s between Iceland, Norway and the British Isles. In general, the Sea was a highway, and there was a relatively high degree of contact with Norway and England: e.g. 1100-1160 AD. In 1118 AD alone, 35 ships sailed to Iceland which, based on our knowledge of ships, amounts to roughly thousand people. One particular problem in this scenario is to explain how a scenario of linguistic homogeneity was maintained in Iceland over a long period of time. Another issue to be addressed is as follows: How is it feasible that Icelandic, Faroese and the dialects of southwest Norway experienced the same structural and phonological tendencies such as pre-aspiration and various dissimilations?


Doris Stolberg (IDS Mannheim)
Language and colonialism: German in the Pacific

Colonialism brings about contact between people, their languages and their cultures, usually in an asymmetric power relationship. One example is the German colonial empire, lasting from the 1880s to 1914 and including areas in Africa and the Pacific. The focus in this class will be on German-colonial language contact in the Pacific. We will look at the interaction between language and colonialism from three different angles: (a) the official frame -- colonial language policy and its consequences for missions and schools; (b) actual language contact – settings of contact between German and local languages vs. German and another colonial language, English; and (c) documented results --� outcomes of colonial language contact, i.e. effects on local languages (e.g. lexical borrowings) and effects on German (settler and pidgin varieties of German).


Peter Trudgill (Agder)
Contact-related Processes of Change in the History of the English Language

There are many factors which have contributed to the linguistic character of modern English, but one of them is undoubtedly contact. In this course I will be concerned to approach the notion of language contact, and its role in the history of English, from what I hope will be a nuanced, sociolinguistic-typological perspective. By this I mean that sociolinguistics shows us that language contact is not a single, unitary phenomenon, as it sometimes seems from the literature: the linguistic� consequences of language contact can vary enormously depending on the particular sociolinguistic conditions in which it takes place. I will attempt to illustrate this with reference to the pre-history of English as well as its history.