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SEMINAR: Embedding variationist perspectives in undergraduate linguistics teaching

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Today's date is Saturday, June 06, 2020
Embedding variationist perspectives in undergraduate linguistics teaching Other events...
Abstract

When I began my PhD research on complex language repertoires, I found my linguistic toolkit was pretty empty of the kinds of analytic approaches that would allow me to do justice to the linguistic dexterity of my participants. This is partly down to the luck of the draw; I had studied my undergraduate linguistics degree at time prior to the upsurge in interest in variationist sociolinguistics in Australia and so no such courses were on offer at my alma mater. But as I embarked on the process of upskilling and methodological innovation that my PhD demanded of me, I also felt at times I was ‘unlearning’ some of the ways of thinking about language that had been engrained during my bachelor studies. In this talk, I reflect on the concept of linguistic variation (and the linguistic variable) and explore how this is navigated in a typical undergraduate linguistics program. In particular, I focus on opportunities for embedding the concept of variable grammar ‘early and often’ as a way to undermine linguistic prejudice and equip the linguists of the future to grapple with some of the big divisions in our field, such as between probabilistic, usage-based accounts and formal theories of language.

Short bio

My research and applied work is focused at the intersection of descriptive linguistics, sociolinguistics and education. I have always been interested in linguistic outcomes of contact, such as individual multilingualism, language practises in border regions, and contact varieties. I joined the Aboriginal Child Language Acquisition project in 2011, undertaking a study of Alyawarr children’s use of two closely-related language varieties in central Australia. Prior to this, I worked for several years at Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre as a field linguist and I also spent a year in the Philippines working for a local Indigenous people’s education NGO, where I developed multilingual curricula and teaching materials. Before coming to UNE in 2019, I lived in Germany for 3.5 years, teaching linguistics in the English Studies departments of the Friedrich Schiller University (Jena) and Erfurt University (Erfurt).
Speaker(s) Sally Dixon
Location Room 2.63 in Social Sciences
Contact Maïa Ponsonnet <maia.ponsonnet@uwa.edu.au>
Start Fri, 28 Feb 2020 12:30
End Fri, 28 Feb 2020 14:00
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <ss@uwa.edu.au>
Last Updated Tue, 03 Mar 2020 11:52
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