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Sociolinguistic Typology* Deny A. Kwarywww.kwary.net *A simplified version of the lecture given by Prof. Peter Trudgill at the University of Agder, Norway,

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Presentation on theme: "Sociolinguistic Typology* Deny A. Kwarywww.kwary.net *A simplified version of the lecture given by Prof. Peter Trudgill at the University of Agder, Norway,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sociolinguistic Typology* Deny A. Kwarywww.kwary.net *A simplified version of the lecture given by Prof. Peter Trudgill at the University of Agder, Norway, 26 May 2009.

2 Main Concept Linguistic Typologists: Contact and Complexification Sociolinguists & Dialectologists: Contact and Simplification Sociolinguistic Typology: Contact vs. Isolation

3 A. Contact and Complexification (1)  Nichols (1992: ) on Complexity:  Highest: Amharic (Africa), Tarascan (Mesoamerica), Ket (Northern Asia).  Lowest: !Kung (Africa), Mixtec (Mesoamerica), Gilyak (Northern Asia).  High-complexity languages are in areas of linguistic diversity and contact.  Example: Ket vs. Gilyak (next slide)

4 A. Contact and Complexification (2) Ket is in the area of more linguistic diversity and contact than Gilyak. Picture Source: edu/cgboer/language families.html The Ket verb is notoriously complex; its morphology can involve tense and subject-number suppletion, discontinuous roots, and the prefixation, suffixation, and infixing of diverse series of agent and patient markers. (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/315634/Ket-language)

5 A. Contact and Complexification (3)  Nichols (1992: 193): “It can be concluded that contact among languages fosters complexity, or, put differently, diversity among neighbouring languages fosters complexity in each of the languages.”  The contact will have to be long-term contact situations involving childhood–and therefore proficient bilingualism.

6 B. Contact and Simplification  Types of Simplification: 1.Regularisation of Irregularities 2.Increase in transparency 3.Loss of redundancy

7 B.1. Regularisation of Irregularities  English Language:  Help (present) – Holp (past)  Help (present) – Helped (past)  Cow (singular) – Kine (plural)  Cow (singular) – Cows (plural)

8 B.2. Increase in transparency (1)  English Language  Twice  Two times  Seldom  Not often  ‘Two times’ and ‘not often’ are more transparent than ‘twice’ and ‘seldom’, respectively. See the Corpus Evidence on the Next Slide: BNC (British National Corpus) published in 1994 vs. BAWE (British Academic Written English) published in 2008.

9 B.2. Increase in transparency (2) twice two times % for two times seldom not often % for not often BNC % % BAWE % % *The calculation is based on The corpus evidence shows that the percentages of using ‘two times’ and ‘not often’—the more transparent forms— have increased. BNC, 100 million words, UK, 1980 – BAWE, UK, 6.5 million words, UK, 2004 – 2007.

10 B.3. Loss of Redundancy (1)  Loss of repetition of information  In Indonesian language: Old manuscript: banyak rumah-rumah ‘many houses’ New manuscript: banyak rumah ‘many house’  Loss of morphological categories:  Faroese has undergone fewer changes than the continental Scandinavian languages (Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish).

11  For example: The adjective narrow has 3 forms in Norwegian, but 2 stems and 11 different forms in Faroese.  Compared to Faroese, Norwegian has undergone considerable loss of morphological complexity. B.3. Loss of Redundancy (2)

12 B.3. Loss of Redundancy (3)  Faroese has been a relatively isolated language over the last millennium.  Contact has played an important role in the developments in continental Scandinavian.  Adult language and dialect contact, because of the diminished language-learning abilities of speakers who have passed the critical threshold, favor pidginization. (Notice that pidginization is a process which occurs wherever adult language acquisition takes place, and only in very exceptional circumstances leads to the development of a pidgin language.)

13 Conclusion 1.High-contact, long term pre-critical threshold contact situations are more likely to lead to additive (and only additive) complexification; 2.High-contact, short term post-critical threshold contact situations are more likely to lead to simplification; 3.Low contact situations are likely to lead to preservation of existing complexity.

14 References  Posted July 15, 2000; revisions posted November 25,  Accessed 29 June  Ket language. (2009). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved July 14, 2009, from Encyclopaedia Britannica Online:  Nichols, Johanna Linguistic diversity in space and time. Chicago: Chicago University Press.  Trudgill, Peter Linguistic and social typology. In J. K. Chambers, N. Schilling-Estes and P. Trudgill (eds.) Handbook of Linguistic Variation and Change. Oxford: Blackwell,


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