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Conference Information

Full Title: Bridging Formal and Sociolinguistic Approaches to Language Contact and Code-mixing

Location: Trondheim, Norway
Start Date: 27-Apr-2017 - 28-Apr-2017
Contact: Jill Vaughan
Meeting Email: click here to access email
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Meeting Description: The Linguistic Complexity in the Individual and Society (LCIS) research group will host a workshop exploring both linguistic and social factors that shape the processes and outcomes of language contact on 27-28 April 2017. The overarching theme is intended to bring together conversations that focus on modeling and predicting the forms of language contact with those about its social functioning and meanings.

Work that seeks to understand the diversity of outcomes of language contact has traditionally been the purview of such fields as sociolinguistics, historical linguistics and linguistic typology. Theoretical and generative linguists, meanwhile, have largely focused on the monolingual speaker as the ideal subject upon which to construct theoretical models, with multilingual repertoires understood to be too complicated or messy for the task at hand. As such, data reflecting language contact situations have not been widely drawn upon in generative work.

Researchers within both sociolinguistics and formal grammar have advocated for a multilingual ‘turn’ in their fields (e.g. Lohndal 2013, Nagy & Meyerhoff 2008) to counter the former “curious monolingual bias” (Nagy & Meyerhoff 2008: 2), to make our models more robust, and to more accurately reflect the diverse linguistic and social realities for speakers/signers worldwide.

Furthermore, much existing work in the field of language contact (as well as in variationist accounts and language change more broadly) has been formulated on the basis of a distinction between language-internal/linguistic and language-external/social parameters that influence contact outcomes. Focus on the former has fostered important contributions about the extent to which outcomes are shaped by the grammars of the contributing languages (e.g. work on code-switching such as Sankoff & Poplack 1981 (variationist approach), MacSwann 1999 (generative approach) and Myers-Scotton 1993 (psycholinguistic/production approach)). Meanwhile, focus on language-external factors has revealed a wide range of social meanings of language contact outcomes, covering such notions as prestige (e.g. Blom & Gumperz 1972, cf. Maehlum 1996), social networks (e.g. Milroy & Li Wei 1995) and identity work (e.g. Gardner-Chloros & Finnis 2004, Auer 2005), as well as local interactional factors like audience design (e.g. Wei Zhang 2005, Gardner-Chloros and Charles, 2007) and pragmatic/discourse parameters (e.g. Gumperz 1982, Myers-Scotton 1993a).

There exists, however, a good deal of notable work that has fruitfully engaged with both aspects (see, e.g., Åfarli & Mæhlum 2014, Auer 1999, Croft 2003, Thomason 2003, Gardner-Chloros 2009 and Matras 2009 for more integrated approaches, and Eide & Åfarli 2007, Eide & Sollid 2011 and Grimstad, Lohndal & Åfarli 2014 for work on Norwegian specifically), and in fact the validity of this separation within language contact research is increasingly being called into question. In any case, there remain many unanswered questions about the interactions of both the linguistic and the social in determining the outcomes of language contact.

The following speakers have kindly agreed to provide plenary addresses:

Enoch Aboh (University of Amsterdam)
Ad Backus (Tilburg University)
Felicity Meakins (University of Queensland)
Hilde Sollid (Universitetet i Tromsø)
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Sociolinguistics
LL Issue: 28.449

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