Problems of Language in East German Society and Culture
Editors: Graham Jackman and Ian F. Roe
Finding a Voice explores aspects of the use and function of language in East Germany which resulted from Party control of public discourse during the period of the German Democratic Republic. A distinctive feature of the volume, which brings together essays by British and German scholars, is the wide variety of areas which are incorporated in this survey - from political and public discourse, through aspects of sociolinguistics and the teaching of German, to a spectrum of artistic forms ranging from rock music and film to poetry and the novel. In particular, the relationship between public discourse and the events of the ‘Wende' is explored in a number of contributions. Most of the works and issues considered are discussed in English here for the first time, and the volume as a whole should be of interest to scholars concerned with the GDR and with contemporary German culture, to undergraduate and postgraduate students, and also to others interested in the history and culture of Germany since 1945. Nine of the essays are in English and four in German.
Everyday Communication in Medieval Russia
In Voices on Birchbark Jos Schaeken explores the major role that writing on birchbark – an ephemeral, even ‘throw-away’ form of correspondence and administration – played in the vibrant medieval merchant city of Novgorod and other cities in the Russian Northwest. Birchbark literacy was crucial to the organization of Novgorodian society; it was integrated into a huge variety of activities and had a broad social basis; it was used extensively by the laity, by women as well as men, by villagers as well as landlords. Voices on Birchbark is the first book-length study of this unique corpus in English. By examining a representative selection of birchbark texts, Jos Schaeken presents fascinating vignettes of daily medieval life and a holistic picture of the pragmatics of communication in pre-modern societies.
These lectures provide a basic introduction to the linguistic theory known as Cognitive Grammar. It is argued that a conceptualist semantics, well motivated in its own terms, provides the basis for a symbolic view of grammar. Consisting in the structuring and symbolization of conceptual content, grammar is inherently meaningful, and basic grammatical notions have conceptual characterizations. An account is given of grammatical categories, markings, and constructions. A number of central topics are examined in detail, including subjects, possessives, locatives, voice, and impersonals.
Lessons of Persistence and Change from Endangered Languages: Collected Essays
In Small-language Fates and Prospects Nancy C. Dorian gathers findings from decades of documenting an endangered Scottish Gaelic dialect, presenting detailed evidence of contraction and loss but also recording a positive role for imperfect speakers. Retention of language skills undervalued by linguists but positively viewed by the community has supported the survival of local Gaelic-English bilingualism well beyond early predictions. Nonetheless, potent factors that threaten small-language survival everywhere have also operated here. Negative social attitudes towards the minority population, loss of a traditional occupation, the increasing impact of majority-culture ideologies, are recurrent phenomena in small-language settings. Maintenance or revitalization efforts pose special challenges under these circumstances, as does fieldwork itself when adverse sociohistorical forces have left very few fluent speakers.
The Pen, the Voice, the Text
In this unique edition, Carl Davila takes an original approach to the texts of the modern Moroccan Andalusian music tradition. This volume offers a literary-critical analysis and English translation of the texts of this nūba, studies their linguistic and thematic features, and compares them with key manuscripts and published anthologies. Four introductory chapters and four appendices discuss the role of orality in the tradition and the manuscripts that lie behind the print anthologies. Two supplements cross-reference key poetic images in English and Arabic, and provide information on known authors of the texts. This groundbreaking contribution will interest scholars and students of pre-modern Arabic poetry, muwashshaḥāt, Andalusian music traditions, Arabic Studies, orality, and sociolinguistics.
Ethnographic Approaches to the Tales We Tell
Telling stories is one of the fundamental things we do as humans. Yet in scholarship, stories considered to be “traditional”, such as myths, folk tales, and epics, have often been analyzed separately from the narratives of personal experience that we all tell on a daily basis. In Storytelling as Narrative Practice, editors Elizabeth Falconi and Kathryn Graber argue that storytelling is best understood by erasing this analytic divide. Chapter authors carefully examine language use in-situ, drawing on in-depth knowledge gained from long-term fieldwork, to present rich and nuanced analyses of storytelling-as-narrative-practice across a diverse range of global contexts. Each chapter takes a holistic ethnographic approach to show the practices, processes, and social consequences of telling stories.
Shakespeare, Language, and Literature in a Postcolonial Context
This book gives a fascinating account of the unique history of the national – creole – language of Mauritius and the process of standardization that it is undergoing in postcolonial times. The central question is how far a creative writer's activity may affect the status and linguistic forms of a regional language. The book focuses on the work of the author Dev Virahsawmy, who, particularly through his Shakespeare translations, is an active agent in the standardization of Mauritian creole.
The approaches employed in From Creole to Standard combine a sociolinguistic examination of (changing) language attitudes with detailed textual studies of some of Virahsawmy's works to show the relation of his work to the process of language development. This book is relevant to the study of other creole languages undergoing standardization as well as to questions of language development more widely. Its strength lies precisely in its interdisciplinary approach, which addresses different readerships. Mooneeram’s study is of great interest to both postcolonial thinking and sociolinguistics but also has important implications for debates about the role of canonical literary works and their transmission in the wider world.
Her book is also a contribution to Shakespeare studies and the field of literary linguistics. There are interesting parallels between the contemporary situation of Mauritian creole and English in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Virahsawmy’s adaptations and translations into creole echo the role Shakespeare’s ‘originals’ played for English, and Mooneeram demonstrates how other writers have followed Virahsawmy in using literary forms to enrich the language.
Beyond metro-, multi-, poly-, pluri- and translanguaging
Drawing on usage-based theory, neurocognition, and complex systems, Languaging Beyond Languages elaborates an elegant model accommodating accumulated insights into human language even as it frees linguistics from its two-thousand-year-old, ideological attachment to reified grammatical systems. Idiolects are redefined as continually emergent collections of context specific, probabilistic memories entrenched as a result of domain-general cognitive processes that create and consolidate linguistic experience. Also continually emergent, conventionalization and vernacularization operate across individuals producing the illusion of shared grammatical systems. Conventionalization results from the emergence of parallel expectations for the use of linguistic elements organized into syntagmatic and paradigmatic relationships. In parallel, vernacularization indexes linguistic forms to sociocultural identities and stances. Evidence implying entrenchment and conventionalization is provided in asymmetrical frequency distributions.
Literature, Language, and Multiculturalism in Scandinavia and the Low Countries presents a ground-breaking comparative approach to the study of multicultural literature. Focusing on the development of migration literature in Sweden, Denmark, Flanders, and the Netherlands, the volume argues that the political and institutional preconditions for the development of ‘multicultural’ literatures are still given within the frame of the nation-state. As a consequence, both the field of ‘migration literature’ and the (multi-)lingual quality of literary texts are shaped differently in each state and in each language area. The volume delineates the development of multicultural literature in Scandinavia and the Low Countries as a function of the specific language situations in these countries as well as the various political, institutional, and discursive contexts.
This book not only offers a comprehensive theoretical and methodological analysis of multilingualism and multicultural literature, but also provides overviews sketching the discourse on multiculturalism, language and the development of the literary field in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Flanders. Besides it presents a broad range of in-depth analyses of selected literary texts from each of these countries.