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English as a lingua franca (ELF) has become ubiquitous in today's globalised, mobile and fast-changing world. It is clear that it will have an unprecedented impact not only on how we communicate but also on our understanding of language use and change. What exactly ELF brings to our life and to language theory is a question which requires an interdisciplinary take. This book gathers together leading scholars from world Englishes, typology, language history, cognitive linguistics, translation studies, multilingualism, sociolinguistics and ELF research itself to seek state-of-the-art answers. Chapters present original insights on language change, based on theoretical approaches and empirical studies, and provide clear examples of social, interactional and cognitive changes that ELF instigates. The picture which unfolds on the pages of this book is complex, dynamic and makes a convincing case for the importance of English as a lingua franca on language change at a global scale.
In this chapter we attempt to separate the communal and the individual levels of language representation and explore how linguistic regularities emerge at each of them. We sample one communal and ten individual corpora of language use from the same ELF environment and examine to what extent syntactic structure, priming and chunking influence linguistic choice in each corpus by looking at the variation between contracted and full forms (it is/it’s). We find clear differences in how these three factors work across the corpora and attempt to interpret them in relation to the properties of individual languages, language change and the role of ELF.
Languages undergo continual change, but not at constant speed. External and internal dynamics affect the speed as well as the different scales at which change occurs. Among important external factors, societal change, mobility and the ensuing language contact create conditions of stability or instability and upheaval. Language-internal changes may be triggered off by external changes, for instance when these lead to lively contact between languages or varieties, but internal changes may also begin seemingly autonomously, and may affect different subsystems, or one or more subsystems at different stages. In this volume both internal and external processes of language change are addressed, with a focus on contemporary processes and on English, although not exclusively, so that historical lines of development are included, as are other languages. Throughout the volume, the contributions highlight social contexts of various sizes and kinds, and social processes interacting with linguistic ones. A few chapters also delve into cognitive processes and individual users, thus ensuring that a range of scales is covered in addressing the issues of change and the specific phenomenon of English as a global lingua franca.
Chapter 6 analyzes word association responses, categorizes them into meaning-based and syntagmatic and compares to the patterns of corresponding usage corpora. It shows that words eliciting meaning-based responses tend to be independent in usage while words eliciting syntagmatic responses tend to participate in multi-word units, suggesting that word associations can indeed say something about the processes at work in language use. A deeper analysis of syntagmatic associations and their comparison to usage patterns suggest the psycholinguistic reality of the model of a unit of meaning and in particular of abstracted associations: those of colligation and semantic preference. The chapter also discusses the core meaning effect, the influence of directionality and contiguity on the strength of association, the relationship of syntagmatic association to the boundaries of a unit of meaning as well as the evidence of the processes of fixing and approximation observed in Chapter 5.
Chapter 5 compares the phraseology of usage to exposure. It shows that more than half of patterns extracted from a student’s usage corpus also occur in her exposure corpus. At the same time the figure drops significantly if these patterns are compared to a different student’s exposure corpus supporting the assumption of representativeness. The chapter then proceeds to compare usage patterns to exposure qualitatively focusing on the processes of variation and change. It finds support for the process of approximation through which a more or less fixed pattern loosens and becomes variable on the semantic or grammatical axis presumably due to frequency effects and the properties of human memory. The chapter also proposes a reverse process, fixing, through which the pattern extends and develops verbatim associations through repeated usage. Both processes are suggested to occur within meaning-shifts units and thus be characteristic of co-selection.
Chapter 7 summarizes the findings and offers a bigger picture with regard to (1) the idiom principle in L2 acquisition and use, (2) the model of a unit of meaning and (3) the processes behind the phraseological tendency of language. It argues that the idiom principle is available to L2 users to a larger degree than is often thought. It then proposes an ‘atomic’ model of a unit of meaning, shows how the processes of fixing and approximation fit into the larger processes of delexicalization and meaning-shift, further develops the idea of a continuum of delexicalization suggested in Chapter 2 as well as explains the connection between these ideas and the concepts of relexicalization and re-metaphorization. The chapter ends with a discussion of limitations and promising directions of future research.
Chapter 2 provides an in-depth discussion of Sinclair’s conceptualization of lexis and meaning and its major concepts. It starts from the model of a unit of meaning and explains how it is capable of incorporating both syntagmatic and paradigmatic axes of meaning by including optional variable components of collocation, colligation and semantic preference. The chapter continues by offering a theoretical solution of removing the borderline between single- and multi-word units. Further it points out the difference between Firth’s and Sinclair’s conceptions of collocation and defines the relationships between the idiom principle, co-selection, syntagmatic association, core meaning, delexicalization and meaning-shift. A large part of the chapter is devoted to examining the controversy around the concept of semantic prosody. The chapter concludes by discussing Sinclair’s theory of meaning and his idea of the ultimate dictionary. The conceptualization presented in the chapter forms the theoretical backbone of the book.