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SEMINAR: Linguistics Seminar Series 2019

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Today's date is Wednesday, December 02, 2020
Linguistics Seminar Series 2019 : How to Take a Complement in the Eastern Caribbeans? Other events...
In early creole studies, variation in the form of the complementiser was taken as a diagnostic of a speaker’s position on the (post-)creole continuum (e.g. Bickerton 1971; Washabaugh 1977). With the exception of relative clause markers, complementisers have received little attention since then (cf. Winford 2008; Velupillai 2015), possibly because of their low salience as well as the need for large corpora of natural speech to study their patterns of variation.

This paper uses a corpus of English(-based creole) consisting of sociolinguistic interviews recorded between 2003 and 2005 in Bequia (St Vincent and the Grenadines) to analyse the choice of complementiser choice in three contexts: finite (1) and non-finite verbal complements (2) and relative clauses (3).

(1) a. I believe Ø they born here. (PF24/00:41) b. I have to believe that they say so, but I don’t know. (MP2/18:16) (2) a. You only want to see her when it is dark. (LP28/7:37) b. Yeah, who want for go there, who got money for go to them. (H11/46:01) c. Sometime I want Ø go night church. (H8/2:45) (3) a. You’ll have lots of people that still go to church. (MP103/53:45) b. If you have children who are not mature enough … (LP28/11:53) c. There’s some girls Ø still does go. (H5/27:46)

From interviews with 26 speakers from four villages of different ethnic compositions and socioeconomic histories, 9,616 complementiser tokens were exhaustively extracted and coded for a range of social and linguistic factors.

Principal components analysis of variant distribution allows us to characterize each speaker according to three underlying factors: zeroes (1a, 2c, 3c), that or wh-forms (1b, 3a, b) and for (2b). Although speakers from particular villages tend to cluster together in their use of variants, there are several outliers and some overlap between villages. We provide some preliminary analysis of the distribution of complementiser variants according to linguistic context and function. The results of these analyses suggest that complementation is a means of differentiation between villages in Bequia, but in contrast to early creole studies, speakers do not fit neatly onto a linear continuum.



References Bickerton, D. 1971. Inherent variability and variable rules. Foundations of Language 7:457-92. Velupillai, V. 2015. Pidgins, creoles & mixed languages. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Washabaugh, W. 1977. Constraining variation in decreolization. Language 53:329-52. Winford, D. 2008. Atlantic creole syntax. In S. Kouwenberg & J.V. Singler (eds.), Handbook of pidgin and creole studies. Oxford: Blackwell, 19-47.

Short bio James Walker has been Professor of Language Diversity at La Trobe University since 2017. He received a BA in Linguistics (1989) and an MA in Anthropology (1991) from the University of Toronto and an MA (1995) and PhD (2000) in Linguistics from the University of Ottawa. From 2000 to 2017 he held various positions at York University (Toronto), including Professor of Linguistics. He is an international expert in the study of sociolinguistic variation and change and has conducted studies of phonetics/phonology, morphology and syntax in varieties of English spoken in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, as well as research on Sango (Central African Republic), Swedish and Brazilian Portuguese. He is the author of Variation in Linguistic Systems (2010, Routledge), Canadian English: A Sociolinguistic Perspective (2015, Routledge) and (with Miriam Meyerhoff) Bequia Talk (2013, Battlebridge) and the editor of Aspect in Grammatical Variation (2010, Benjamins).

Speaker(s) Professor James Walker
Location UWA, Social Sciences Building, room 2.63.
Contact Maïa Ponsonnet <[email protected]>
Start Fri, 29 Nov 2019 12:00
End Fri, 29 Nov 2019 13:00
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Wed, 27 Nov 2019 12:01
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