The Survey of English Usage
This newsletter is part of a series of quarterly newsletters from
the Survey of English Usage, intended to keep the academic community
and other interested parties informed about research in the Survey.
The newsletter will be sent out in March, June, September and December.
The March issue is the Survey’s Annual report.
We are very pleased to announce that the Survey has been awarded
an AHRC Knowledge
Transfer Fellowship. The aim of this project, which will start
in 2010, is to build a web-based teaching and learning platform
consisting of an interactive structured English language course,
tailored to the goals of the National Curriculum’s Key Stages
3-5. This will consist of lesson modules dynamically accessing the
corpora based at the Survey.
Details of the project, which will be carried out with the London
Borough of Camden as a partner, are available here.
SEU’s fiftieth birthday celebrations: 14 July 2009
The Survey celebrated its 50th birthday on 14 August with a symposium
entitled Current Change in the English Verb Phrase. The programme
can be viewed here.
The day was a great success, and were pleased that Randolph Quirk,
the founder of the Survey, attended parts of the proceedings. We
hope to publish an edited book with papers presented at the symposium.
AHRC grant: The changing verb phrase in present-day British
English (AHRC AH/E006299/1)
Jo Close and Bas Aarts presented a paper entitled 'The Subjunctive
in Spoken British English' at the 30th International Computer
Archive of Medieval and Modern English (ICAME) conference in
Lancaster, 28th May 2009. A paper on the use of the progressive
in English by Bas Aarts and Jo Close is expected to be published
in 2010. An article by Jo Close and Bas Aarts on modal verbs has
been accepted for the proceedings of the 15th International Conference
on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL) held in Munich in
2008. Jo Close is currently writing a paper on the subjunctive,
to be submitted either to English Language and Linguistics
or the ICAME proceedings.
This term the following research seminars will take place in Room
235 Foster Court.
|Wed 28 October
||Prof Tania Kuteva
|On cultural-linguistic correlations: A case
My object of investigation is the grammaticalized
expression of the notion “Speaker (S) wants Hearer
(H) to do something, whereby S requests H´s agreement
for that”, which I will be referring to as the
requestive (see also Kuteva 2009). The requestive as
category is an explication of a notion introduced by
Jespersen ( 1968) and for the first time explicitly
defined in detail in Krabbe (in preparation), who assumes
validity of the following sequence of stages in the
grammaticalization of the verb please into the
politeness adverbial marker please: (i) full
verb (“my words please you”), (ii) conditional
clause with the verb please (“if it pleases
you”), and; (iii) politeness adverbial marker
(“please, open the window”).
In the present investigation I will treat adverbial
politeness markers such as please in English
as dedicated requestive markers, i.e. linguistic expressions
which are specialized for encoding a polite request;
this does not necessarily rule out the existence of
other, non-dedicated means of expressing a polite request
in the same language, cf. the use of a modal verb in
the past in an interrogative sentence in English (e.g.
Could you open the window?).
On the basis of preliminary, empirical observations
from languages spoken in Europe, Africa, Asia and Papua
New Guinea as well as from the communicative behaviour
of the speakers of these languages, I will propose that
there might be a correlation between directness/indirectness
of communication on the one hand, and presence/absence
of dedicated grammaticalized requestives.
More precisely, I will hypothesize that there exist
three major groups of languages as far as grammaticalizing
the requestive notion is concerned:
- Languages with no dedicated grammaticalized
requestives and no other politeness markers (e.g.
Papua New Guinea languages, African languages). The
communication behaviour of the users of such languages
is characterized by directness,
- Languages with dedicated grammaticalized
requestives (and often with additional, non-dedicated,
i.e. multi-purpose linguistic expressions that have
the function of politeness, among other functions,
e.g. English as well as other European languages).
The communication behaviour of the users of such languages
is characterized by moderate directness;
- Languages with no dedicated grammaticalized
requestives but with other politeness markers, which
often amount to a highly elaborate honorific system,
whereby the requestive semantics is distributed –
as a rule – across the whole syntagm containing
the request (e.g. Korean). The communication behaviour
of the users of such languages is characterized by
|Dr Devyani Sharma
Inter-generational dialect change in
a Punjabi London community
Within urban ethnic minority communities, the adult
migrant generation (Gen1) is widely treated as having
relatively fixed or 'fossilised' non-native features
in their English, whereas the local- born generation
(Gen2) is argued to show little or no retention of such
features (Chambers 2002; Sankoff 2002). Implicitly,
a major accent shift is assumed to occur abruptly at
the boundary between Gen1 and Gen2, i.e. non-local-born
vs. local-born. Using data from first and second generation
members of a bilingual Punjabi community in West London,
and focusing in particular on the Punjabi-derived feature
of [t]-retroflexion, I argue that:
- Gen1 adults show sensitivity to the dialect
contact situation and are able to modulate their use
of retroflexion to some extent,
- retroflexion is retained by many Gen2 speakers,
- by the time retroflexion reaches younger
Gen2 speakers, its use is sensitive to different linguistic
(e.g. position and articulation) and social (e.g.
class and network) factors, and
- time depth and gender emerge as particularly
significant forces in this shift in usage.
Rather than disappearing abruptly in the British-born
group, retroflexion gradually acquires a new social
function among younger Gen2 speakers. The findings suggest
that dialect shift is not exclusively driven by the
cognitive mechanisms of native acquisition but also
by demographic and social factors (paralleling recent
critiques of abrupt creolisation). In closing, I briefly
discuss how the complex range of ‘hybrid’ dialect repertoires
found across individuals points to distinct locations
and trajectories within a shared social space.
The Survey has now moved back to its renovated premises in Foster
This page last modified
24 January, 2017
by Survey Web Administrator.