Lehrstuhl für Englische Sprachwissenschaft

    Christina Domene Moreno: Beyond transfer? The acquisition of an L3 phonology by Turkish-German bilinguals

    Within the relatively new area of research on Third Language (L3) Acquisition, the subfield of phonology is growing, but still relatively understudied. Testing the current L3 models adopted from research on L3 syntax (see Rothman 2010, Bardel & Falk 2012, Flynn et al. 2004), the studies conducted in the area have mostly focused on the source and directionality of language transfer – both into the L3 and into the respective background languages – with some recent excursions into the role of extra-linguistic factors for multilingual learners (e.g., Wrembel 2015). The findings so far (mostly on production, with perception lagging behind) have been very diverse and, depending on the concrete study, can often be taken to give evidence for any of the prevalent models. This can be attributed to the wide range of different speaker and learner biographies as well as their language combinations and state of acquisition, but crucially the dilemma seems to be inherent in the (phonological) system in and of itself since viewing phonological interlanguage transfer as a one-dimensional and immediately transparent process based on direct correspondences between language systems does not seem to capture the complex nature of the phenomenon.

    In this doctoral thesis I investigate the acquisition of an additional phonological system by child and adult German heritage speakers of Turkish. Specifically, I aim to explore how the learners deal with diverse phonological contrasts that promote positive contra negative transfer from their HL (Turkish) and their L2 (German), and how their perception and production is modulated by cognitive and affective variables. Moreover, I test contrasts that can be found neither in the HL nor in the L2 phonological system to tease apart transfer phenomena from effects caused elsewhere in the bilingual mind when dealing with a new system.

    The studies will shed light both on the question of how a new language is shaped and affected by different existing systems and on how two or more phonological grammars co-exist and/or interact in a speaker’s mind. I will argue that, rather than being regarded as simple full projection of language-specific property sets onto the target language, phonological transfer in multilinguals needs to be considered as a process of complex interactions and layers that are established on the level of individual phonological properties and abstract (typological) associations.

    Simon Herberth: The Interactional Dynamics of Police Encounters

    This project investigates the conversational dynamics of encounters between law enforcement officers and civilians in routine settings such as vehicle traffic stops. Adopting a conversation analytic approach, the objective is the "identification of sequential patterns" (Drew et al., 2000: 59) drawing a line between encounters involving an ambush-style attack on peace officers and non-violent encounters (cf. Van Horne & Riley, 2014: 15). A corpus of audio-visual footage of routine police-citizen encounters in the United States provides the data for the analysis. As a first step, the unique conversational nature of such contacts (cf. Miller, 2012: 29) regarding constraints impacting the design and allocation of turns (cf. Gibbons, 2007: 94; cf. Shon, 2005: 834) is explored. Following this, the sequential framework with an emphasis on the preference organization of the interlocutors (cf. Sidnell, 2010: 77) is analyzed. In so doing, the following research questions will be answered: Is it possible to classify an encounter as potentially violent based on conversational cues displayed by the detainee (cf. Moerman, 1996: 2; cf. Heritage, 1984: 288; cf. deBecker, 1997: 116)? Is verbal de-escalation an effective option in order to pacify an aggressor in scenarios involving an ambush-style attack (cf. Vandermay et al., 2008: 141; cf. Lewinski et al., 2015: 4)?

    Marie-Christin Himmel: The production of liquids in first language attrition and second language acquisition.

    Matthias Krebs: Allophonic realisations of word-medial /t/ and target accents for non-native speakers of English

    Studies into non-native speech have thus far focused primarily on segmental and supra-segmental features that differ significantly from native speech (Gut 2007), both acoustically and perceptually. The present study aims to characterise variable surface realisations of segments due to predictable phonological processes in non-native English, and thus to classify speakers in terms of target accent according to their choice of allophone in certain linguistic environments.

    American English speakers differ from British speakers in their production of /t/ in most positions preceding an unstressed segment. Flapping is the preferred choice in these positions (Eddington and Elzinga 2008; Patterson and Connine 2001), and occurs with a very high probability in environments following a stressed vowel (e.g. Zue and Laferriere 1979). Conversely, aspiration (or frication) is favoured by BrE speakers in these contexts (Cruttenden 2014; Schleef 2013). The choice of variant can thus be seen as a shibboleth of the respective accent, and be operationalised as an indicator of target accent of non-native speakers.

    In this production study, American and British native speakers read out a carefully constructed story containing carrier-words eliciting /t/ in word-medial and word-final positions. The choice of variant ([th] vs. [R]) is assessed, and flapping rates calculated. As an independent check, the instances of /r/-dropping in preconsonantal positions are also regarded.

    36 advanced German L2 learners of English at Würzburg University were subsequently given the same items to read. Their flapping rates and other factors indicating accentedness (and target-accent) are aligned on a continuum between American and Britsh English. The results will be correlated with accent-ratings conducted by native British and American speakers, and cross-referenced with questionnaire-data in order to yield implications for order of acquisition, methods for nativeness-ratings, the influence of extralinguistic factors like time abroad and motivation etc.

    Lisa Lehnen: Pragmatic Variation Across Second-Language Varieties of English and Learner Englishes – A Speech-Act-Based Study

    Within the study of varieties of English, many descriptions have largely focused on phonology, morphosyntax and lexis, often neglecting the level of pragmatics and discourse (but see, for instance, Biewer, 2015 for an exception). In my PhD project, I tackle this research gap by examining pragmatic variation, more specifically the speech act of disagreement, broadly defined as “the expression of a view that differs from that expressed by another speaker” (Sifianou, 2012, p. 1554). Disagreements are highly context-sensitive and multifunctional in that they may challenge but also maintain or even enhance harmony. To account for this functional diversity, they will be studied from an interactional perspective, including insights from rapport management (Spencer-Oatey, 2008) and conversation analysis (Pomerantz, 1984).

    A further goal of my project is to combine the study of English as a second language (ESL), viz. acquired as a second (native) language in mostly postcolonial contexts, and English as a foreign language (EFL), viz. non-native varieties acquired in institutional settings. This distinction introduced by Kachru (1988) has largely been maintained despite the development of more dynamic models (Schneider, 2007; Buschfeld & Kautzsch, 2017). The resulting theoretical and methodological division between studies on either variety type, has, however, been questioned due to the common basis of the fields (Mukherjee & Hundt, 2011, p. 2). To address this division, I incorporate insights from variational (Schneider & Barron, 2008), postcolonial (Anchimbe & Janney, 2011) and interlanguage (Kasper & Blum-Kulka, 1993) pragmatics.

    A cross-varietal study of disagreements requires large amounts of comparable data, which is why I first adopt a corpus pragmatic approach and analyse disagreements in casual conversations from the Jamaican and Hong Kong component of the International Corpus of English (ICE), and from the Vienna Oxford International Corpus of English (VOICE). In order to enhance the investigation, the second part of my project deals exclusively with English in Hong Kong whose status has become even more prone to change since Hong Kong’s hand-over to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. I investigate disagreements among groups of speakers in Hong Kong who acquired and use English differently to gain a general insight into the dynamics of pragmatic variation, and reveal aspects of the variety status of English in Hong Kong.

    Elisabeth Reber

    Postdoctoral thesis (Habilitationsschrift, completed 2018): “Quoting in Parliamentary Question Time. A short-term diachronic study of an evidential practice.“

    University of Potsdam, Germany. Referees: Dagmar Barth-Weingarten, Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen, Andreas H. Jucker

    Accepted for publication as
    Reber, Elisabeth. Quoting in Parliamentary Question Time. Exploring recent change (Studies in English Language), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    “Why does it sound so foreign to us when we hear audio recordings of speakers engaging in reported speech at British Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) 30-40 years ago? Taking a real-time approach, this study analyses how reported speech with the quotative 'say' is emergent in a rapidly evolving community of practice, comparing its uses based on authentic audio and video recordings from two periods (1978-1988 and 2003-2013). Using a combined methodology informed by Interactional Linguistics, Conversation Analysis, Usage-based Grammar as well as Historical Pragmatics, the study makes a proposal for a diachronic interactional-linguistic research programme. It provides evidence for qualitative and quantitative changes, ranging from the micro level (most notably, grammaticalization processes in the reporting clause) to more global levels (reported clauses, rhetorical structures and activities. Representing one of the first large-scale studies of change in an interactional genre of contemporary English, its findings contribute to a theoretical modelling of evidentiality in English, our understanding of constructions, interaction, and change, and of PMQs as an evolving community of practice.“

    Doctoral thesis (completed): “Affectivity in Talk-in-interaction: sound objects in English“

    University of Potsdam, Germany, 2008. With highest honors (Summa cum laude). Referees: Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen, Marja-Leena Sorjonen

    Published as
    Reber, Elisabeth. 2012    Affectivity in Interaction: Sound objects in English (Pragmatics and beyond new series 215), Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

    Preview of the published Doctoral thesis

    “How do participants display affectivity in social interaction? Based on recordings of authentic everyday conversations and radio phone-ins, this study offers a fine-grained analysis of how recipients of affect-laden informings deploy sound objects, i.e. interjections (oh, ooh and ah) and paralinguistic signals (whistle and clicks), for responsive displays of affectivity. Examining the use of such sound objects across a number of interactional activities including news telling, troubles talk, complaining, assessments and repair, the study provides evidence that the sound pattern and sequential placement of sound objects systematically contribute to their specific meaning-making in interaction, i.e. the management of sequence organisation and interactional relevancies (e.g. affiliation). Presenting an in-depth analysis of a little researched area of language use from an interactional linguistic perspective, the book will be of theoretical and methodological interest to an audience with a background in linguistics, sociology and conversational studies.“

    Reviews by

    Sarah Raine in Language in Society 43:1, 129-130. [2014, doi:10.1017/S0047404513000973]
    Xue Yaoqin in Discourse Studies 16:1, 120-122. [February 2014, doi: 10.1177/1461445613510812g]
    Israel Berger in Journal of Pragmatics 57, 173-175. [October 2013, doi 10.1016/j.pragma.2013.08.011]
    Terese Thonus in LinguistList. [http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-4750.html]

    Ninja Schulz: Functional development of auxiliary DO in affirmative contexts in World Englishes

    Auxiliary DO is most commonly treated in connection with the NICE properties of auxiliaries, which function as operators in negative sentences, participate subject-verb inversion, replace the main verb in elliptic sentences, and carry stress in emphatic contexts. These functions of auxiliary DO emerged in the Early Modern English period; yet, while the use of DO in questions and negatives rose dramatically in the course of the 17th century, the numbers for DO in affirmatives (henceforth DO+) increased only until the mid-16th century but then dropped again (cf. Kroch 2003); however, it has never disappeared completely. Even though there is no consensus on its origin (cf. Denison 1993), DO+ has fulfilled various purposes in its history, for instance, it was used to avoid complex consonant clusters (Stein 1986), to provide an extra syllable in poetry (Ellegård 1953), and as alternative past marker for irregular verbs (Poussa 1990),

    In Present-Day English DO+ is associated with marking contrast (However, I DO think that...) or adding emotive emphasis (I DO feel sorry.) to an utterance (cf. Quirk et al. 1985); in these contexts, DO is usually stressed. However, studies have shown that DO+ is not always stressed and that it can assume a number of discursive functions as well (cf. Nevalainen and Rissanen 1986; Ranger 2015). For example, it can reintroduce a topic in the discourse (I did mention that...), or express epistemic stance (The results do suggest that...). Furthermore, in Irish and Welsh English as well as in some Southwestern dialects of English English, unstressed DO is used as aspect marker, most notably for habitual action, but also to express the progressive. These aspectual functions are also attested for a number of new varieties of English, for example, Trinidadian Creole, Cameroon English, and Newfoundland English (Kortmann and Schneider 2004; Kortmann 2004).

    The present research project investigates the various functions of DO+ and their development in Inner and Outer Circle varieties of English, including a) the grammatical functions (esp. aspect marking), b) its function in emphatic contexts and c) its discursive/pragmatic functions. Special attention is paid to the following questions:

    Are there significant differences regarding the use of DO+ in Inner and Outer Circle varieties of English?

    Can the distribution of DO+ or the (non-)occurrence of different functions be correlated with the developmental stages of Post-colonial Englishes (cf. Schneider 2009)?

    Which (other) factors influence the establishment or loss of functions of DO+ in different varieties of English?

    Is the use of auxiliary DO as aspect marker in new varieties of English an inherited feature (from non-Standard British varieties or earlier forms of English) or is it the result of independent developments triggered, for instance, by language contact or universal (learner) language features?

    Besides a more general assessment of the functions of DO+ in World Englishes based on various components of the ICE-family, the project focusses on two regions more specifically, i.e. West Africa and the Caribbean, where, on the one hand, English-based creoles and standardised varieties of English co-exist, and where, on the other hand, the use of auxiliary DO as aspect marker is an attested feature of several varieties.