Special Linguistics Colloquium today! James A. Walker, York University

Please attend today’s special Thursday colloquium if you can, with James A. Walker from York University. Abstract below.


James A.Walker
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Programs, York University, Canada

Grammatical Variation in the Grenadines: Inherent Variability and Coexistent
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Gould Hall, Room 435

Despite the publication of Aceto and Williams? (2002) Contact Englishes of the
Eastern Caribbean, the varieties of English and English-based creoles spoken
in the Grenadine islands remain largely underdescribed. In this paper, I
outline a project examining language use in Bequia (St Vincent and the
Grenadines), based on fieldwork between 2003 and 2005, comprising over 100
hours of sociolinguistic interviews conducted and recorded by
community-member researchers. The main research question addressed by this
project is whether the linguistic variation observed on the island
represents the presence of multiple co-existent linguistic systems or a
single, albeit highly variable linguistic system. Criteria that have been
proposed to recognize the presence of coexistent systems require a focus on
language-internal constraints and the interaction of multiple linguistic
variables. Focusing on three communities characterized by different
sociodemographic histories, I present quantitative analysis of three aspects
of the grammatical system that exhibit variation: absence of the copula,
verbal negation, and tense-aspect marking. Apart from filling a gap in our
knowledge of the Eastern Caribbean and providing a descriptive
sociolinguistic analysis as a starting point for future work, these findings
contribute more generally to our understanding of (post-)colonial and
contact varieties of English.

Reception to follow in same room.

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