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The general research agenda of Biber and Finegan is to develop a unified theory of style and register which cuts across speech and writing and incorporates work from different subdisciplines, chiefly Hallidayan register studies and quantitative sociolinguistics. In reading Biber and Finegan's (1996) formulation of their position, and indeed in rereading Biber and Finegan (1994), I experienced many disparate kinds of reaction to their work. Consequently, I had difficulty organizing this critique, and the structure of what follows may reflect this. The analysis presented strikes me as so wideranging and diffuse that it is hard to know where to begin. I shall comment in this introductory section first on some general issues, and then move on to more specific points.
Central concepts such as style, register, function, economy, elaboration, clarity, present many conceptual and terminological problems and sometimes seem to suffer from vagueness of definition and fluctuation in their reference even when the authors attempt to define them. This is partly because their analysis covers an immense amount of research territory, different parts of which are occupied by scholars working in different traditions. I therefore begin by querying whether a single model which is as wide as this one attempts to be is desirable or feasible. However, while I find this strategy of building an overarching top-down type of model which incorporates research carried out under different types of agenda quite problematic, some of the assertions which Finegan and Biber present as fundamental principles are reasonable.
This paper examines the bilingual language development of young Korean–American children with respect to their acquisition of English grammatical morphemes and the different plural marking systems of Korean and English. We address two specific issues: (1) “do L1 and L2 learners acquire the grammatical features of a given language in the same sequence?” and (2) “do L2 learners of different L1 backgrounds learn the grammatical features of a given second language in the same sequence?” Comparison of our results with those of other morpheme acquisition studies suggests that L1 and L2 learners of English do not acquire English grammatical features in the same sequence. Furthermore, there is evidence that first language influences the course of second language acquisition. Results of an experimental study of plural marking suggest that the bilingual children in most, but not all, respects follow similar, but delayed patterns of first language acquisition of Korean and successive acquisition of English.
This paper offers a variationist critique of aspects of phonological
theory and method,
focusing on advances in descriptive methods and highlighting the problems
to be addressed in explaining phonological variation. On the one hand,
situated language samples which have been systematically collected and
constitute a legitimate – indeed often vital – source of
evidence to be utilised by
linguists for assessing and refining theoretical models. On the other
cannot operate in isolation from theoretical concerns, and can benefit
evaluation of the competing theoretical frameworks available to them.
The paper begins with a brief review of the philosophical foundations
the tension between ‘external’ and ‘internal’
methodology. We then focus on a
particular phonological example – glottalisation in English.
We demonstrate that
phonological models of this can be complemented by systematic and accountable
data collection and analysis of the kind associated with sociolinguistics.
It is suggested
that the patterns of variation produced by speakers are significantly more
than has been indicated in the phonological literature. Consequently, these
approaches can be usefully expanded and extended as theoretical models.
some desiderata for extending the range of phonological models, focusing
the need to account for variability and change in language.
In the last forty years or so, developments such as the expansion of educational provision to many more levels of society, massive population shifts through migration, and technological advances in mass communication have served to accentuate our sense of a visibly and audibly multilingual modern world. Other large-scale social changes have combined to lead to a considerable increase in bilingualism, not only as a European but as a world-wide phenomenon.
First, modernisation and globalisation have stimulated the expansion in numbers of people speaking national languages located within relatively limited boundaries alongside international languages such as English, French and Spanish. As a consequence of centuries of colonisation, these have spread far beyond their original territories, and there is every sign that their spread as second or auxiliary languages for large numbers of speakers is continuing. Indeed, they are being joined by other languages of economically powerful nations, such as Japanese and Arabic. Furthermore, new multilingual nations have emerged in the years since the Second World War, where linguistic minorities are increasingly becoming bilingual, not only in the language of their own social group and the national language, but often additionally in one of these international languages.
A second development leading to increasing bilingualism is the relatively recent phenomenon of large-scale language revival. There are many nation states in Europe – Switzerland and Belgium are well-known examples – where bilingualism is institutionalised and historically deep-rooted.
Code-switching - the alternating use of several languages by bilingual speakers - does not usually indicate lack of competence on the part of the speaker in any of the languages concerned, but results from complex bilingual skills. The reasons why people switch their codes are as varied as the directions from which linguists approach this issue, and raise many sociological, psychological, and grammatical questions. This volume of essays by leading scholars brings together the main strands of current research in four major areas: the policy implications of code-switching in specific institutional and community settings; the perspective of social theory on code-switching as a form of speech behaviour in particular social contexts; the grammatical analysis of code-switching, including the factors that constrain switching even within a sentence; and the implications of code-switching in bilingual processing and development.
The chapters collected in this volume illustrate a range of approaches to code-switching behaviour, some of which seem rather distant from the primarily social one which we shall present here. However, a coherent account of the social and situational context of code-switching behaviour is an important prerequisite even where the perspective of the researcher is not primarily social (for an example, see chapter 14, this volume). This chapter attempts to develop a coherent account of the relationship between code-switching and language choice by individual speakers, and of the relation of both to the broader social, economic and political context. The exposition is presented both in general terms which emphasise its applicability to a range of bilingual situations, and with specific reference to the example of the bilingual Chinese/English-speaking community in Tyneside, north-eastern England.
It is evident from the abundant research literature that a wealth of data and analyses of code-switching behaviour from many very different communities is readily available. What seems generally to be lacking is a coherent social framework within which to interpret these data and analyses. For example, Heller (1990) remarks that while John Gumperz, an important leader in the field, has always viewed code-switching as constitutive of social reality, he has perhaps been less successful in linking this interactional level with broader questions of social relations and social organisation.
Glottalization and glottal replacement (particularly of /t/ in British English) have traditionally been assumed to be variants characteristic of male, lower-class speakers. Both phenomena have been heavily stigmatized, but are spreading rapidly. Recent studies in various parts of the British Isles (including Tyneside) have suggested that glottal replacement of /t/ is led by middle-class and/or female speakers. A fuller understanding of the nature of this linguistic change depends on treating glottalization of /p, t, k/ (a more localized Tyneside feature) and glottal replacement as independent phenomena, rather than as points on a lenition scale corresponding to a social continuum (e.g., casual to careful style). The studies of Tyneside glottalization reported here show that, while females lead in the use of glottal replacement, males prefer glottalization. This pattern is interpreted in terms of a preference of males for localized variants, whereas females lead in adopting supra-local norms.
In sociolinguistics, approaches that use the variables of socioeconomic class and social network have often been thought to be irreconcilable. In this article, we explore the connection between these variables and suggest the outlines of a model that can integrate them in a coherent way. This depends on linking a consensus-based microlevel of network with a conflict-based macrolevel of social class. We suggest interpretations of certain sociolinguistic findings, citing detailed evidence from research in Northern Ireland and Philadelphia, which emphasize the need for acknowledging the importance of looseknit network ties in facilitating linguistic innovations. We then propose that the link between network and class can be made via the notion of weak network ties using the process-based model of the macrolevel suggested by Thomas Højrup's theory of life-modes. (Sociolinguistics, sociology, quantitative social dialectology, anthropological linguistics)
This paper is concerned with the social mechanisms of linguistic change, and we begin by noting the distinction drawn by Bynon (1977) between two quite different approaches to the study of linguistic change. The first and more idealized, associated initially with traditional nineteenth century historical linguistics, involves the study of successive ‘states of the language’, states reconstructed by the application of comparative techniques to necessarily partial historical records. Generalizations (in the form of laws) about the relationships between these states may then be made, and more recently the specification of ‘possible’ and ‘impossible’ processes of change has been seen as an important theoretical goal.