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Corpus Linguistics and Sociolinguistics

A Study of Variation and Change in the Modal Systems of World Englishes

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Beke Hansen

In Corpus Linguistics and Sociolinguistics, Beke Hansen analyses variation and change in the modal systems of second-language varieties of English by taking a sociolinguistic approach to corpus data. Her study focuses on the modal and semi-modal verbs of strong obligation and necessity in the South- and Southeast Asian varieties Indian English, Hong Kong English, and Singapore English based on the relevant ICE component corpora. She adopts a typologically-informed perspective on variation in World Englishes by comparing the structures of the speakers' first languages with the structures of the emergent varieties in the expression of epistemic modality. Beyond this, she analyses language change by constructing apparent-time scenarios to compensate for the lack of diachronic corpora in World Englishes.
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Beyond Grammaticalization and Discourse Markers

New Issues in the Study of Language Change

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Chaya R. Nove

Abstract

Unlike other Yiddish dialects that were diminished to the point of virtual obsolescence in the decades following World War II, Hasidic Yiddish remains the dominant language for several hundred thousand Hasidic Jews across the globe. And yet, a survey of the research on Yiddish linguistics published during the second half of the 20th century does not reflect this reality. In this article, I review how the ideological underpinnings of Yiddish linguistics created and perpetuated a disciplinary preoccupation with a hypothetical standard at the expense of theoretically informative empirical studies of an evolving Yiddish dialect. Specifically, I show how linguistic chauvinism, a series of calamitous events, and historical anti-religiosity complicated by new resentments, led to the erasure of Hasidic dialects from Yiddish scholarship. Finally, I highlight significant contributions that recent empirical studies of Hasidic Yiddish are making to the field of linguistics.

Open Access

Where does the modality of Ancient Greek modal verbs come from?

The relation between modality and oblique case marking

Serena Danesi, Johnson and Jóhanna Barðdal

Abstract

Modality can be expressed through a variety of different linguistic means within and across languages, of which one manifestation is through noncanonical case marking of the subject. In Ancient Greek several predicates show a systematic alternation between constructions with nominative and oblique subjects, which coincides with a difference in meaning, yielding a modal meaning in the latter case. We show how this modal meaning cannot be derived from the meaning of the individual parts of the construction, neither from the lexical material nor from the relevant grammatical elements. Instead, the data call for a constructional analysis of a modal subconstruction of the oblique subject construction, for which the modality must be attributed to the construction itself. We argue that this can be viewed through the lens of subjectification in the sense of Traugott (2003), here demonstrating that the semantic relation holding between the subject referent and the oblique case marking selected by the verb has been extended to the empathic relation holding between the speaker and his/her attitude towards the proposition uttered (Barðdal 2004). This, we believe, is how the concept of modality came to be associated with oblique case marking of subjects.

Open Access

Outcome of language contact

Transfer of Egyptian phonological features onto Greek in Graeco-Roman Egypt

Sonja Dahlgren

Abstract

This summary presents the main findings of my Ph.D. dissertation (University of Helsinki) on the phonological transfer of Egyptian on second language Greek usage in Egypt.

Open Access

Metapragmatic stereotypes about geographical diversity in Greece

Evidence from elementary school pupils’ responses to mass culture texts

Dimitris Papazachariou, Anna Fterniati, Argiris Archakis and Vasia Tsami

Abstract

Over the past decades, contemporary sociolinguistics has challenged the existence of fixed and rigid linguistic boundaries, thus focusing on how the speakers themselves define language varieties and how specific linguistic choices end up being perceived as language varieties. In this light, the present paper explores the influence of metapragmatic stereotypes on elementary school pupils’ attitudes towards geographical varieties. Specifically, we investigate children’s beliefs as to the acceptability of geographical varieties and their perception of the overt and covert prestige of geographical varieties and dialectal speakers. Furthermore, we explore the relationship between the children’s specific beliefs and factors such as gender, the social stratification of the school location and the pupils’ performance in language subjects. The data of the study was collected via questionnaires with closed questions. The research findings indicate that the children of our sample associate geographical varieties with rural settings and informal communicative contexts. Moreover, children recognize a lack of overt prestige in geographical variation; at the same time, they evaluate positively the social attractiveness and the personal reliability of the geographical varieties and their speakers. Our research showed that pupils’ beliefs are in line with the dominant metapragmatic stereotypes which promote language homogeneity.

Open Access

Language contact, borrowing and code switching

A case study of Australian Greek

Angeliki Alvanoudi

Abstract

The present study is an in-depth investigation of the Greek language spoken by immigrants in Far North Queensland, Australia. The study focuses on contact-induced changes in the language, such as borrowing of lexemes and discourse patterns, and on code switching. The data analyzed derive from participant observation and some 23 hours of audio and video-recorded conversations with first- and second-generation Greek immigrants that were collected during fieldwork in 2013 in Far North Queensland. The study contributes to the investigation of the structure and use of Greek in the diaspora by integrating perspectives from contact linguistics and interactional approaches to code switching.

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Open Access

Connectives and discourse markers in Ancient Greek

The diachrony of atár from Homeric Greek to Classical Attic

Guglielmo Inglese

Abstract

The Ancient Greek particle atár has been described as a connective device that encodes either an adversative or a progressive relation between sentences. The purpose of this paper is to revise the description of this particle by framing its analysis within a consistent and theoretically up-to-date model of clause linkage and discourse structure. Starting from previous findings on the function of atár in Homer, I undertake a corpus analysis of atár in Euripides and Aristophanes. This analysis reveals differences in usage at different stages of the language that have been previously neglected. Whereas in Homer, atár largely behaves as a connective and encodes a semantic relation of oppositive contrast between sentences, in later texts it rather behaves as a discourse marker and contributes to the management of both thematic continuity and interactional practices. These differences point to a specific diachronic path of grammaticalization that accounts for the changes undergone by atár.

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Steffen Krogh

Abstract

Ever since the founding of the modern Haredi Satmar movement in the late 1940s in New York City, the Yiddish variety spoken by the Satmar Haredim has been subject to considerable influence from coterritorial English. The present article addresses the question of the extent to which core features of Eastern European Yiddish have survived into present-day Haredi Satmar Yiddish in America. Most significant in this study is whether the features in question have been able to maintain their position in Haredi Satmar Yiddish despite their absence in English. The absence of a given feature in English will in all likelihood favor alternative Yiddish constructions that have equivalents in English, and will eventually trigger the elimination of the feature in Haredi Satmar Yiddish.