Jenny Cheshire Lecture 2014 - English in Paradise

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13 June 2014

Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Maths Lecture Theatre, Maths Building, Mile End Campus E1 4NS

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Jenny Cheshire Lecture in Sociolinguistics

English in Paradise?: a new variety in the Pacific

Speaker - David Britain

The talk aims to provide a holistic sociohistorical, political as well as linguistic account of the process by which a new English emerges in a colonial environment. Taking the case of the Republic of Palau in Micronesia as an example, I will examine, first, the emergence of English in the context of the country’s complex colonial past. Second, I attempt to apply Schneider’s ‘Dynamic Model’ of postcolonial English formation to this community. Palau provides an interesting and important testing ground for the model, because few communities in which English has emerged as a result of American as opposed to British colonialism have been examined to date. Finally, I present, based on analyses of recordings of informal conversations among Palauans, an initial portrait of the main linguistic characteristics of Palauan English, and assess the extent to which English is nativising in this small community.


David Britain is Professor of Modern English Linguistics at the University of Bern in Switzerland. His research interests include language variation and change, varieties of English, dialect contact and attrition, and the dialectology-human geography interface, with particular interest in applying insights from social geography's Mobilities paradigm to social dialectology. He is editor of Language in the British Isles (CUP, 2007), co-editor (with Jenny Cheshire) of Social Dialectology (Benjamin, 2003), and co-author of Linguistics: an Introduction (with Andrew Radford, Martin Atkinson, Harald Clahsen and Andrew Spencer) (CUP, 2nd edition, 2009). Dave is also currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Sociolinguistics and is on the editorial board of Journal of Linguistic Geography and English World-Wide.

A reception will follow the lecture. 

The 2015 lecture will be given by Professor Paul Kerswill