ESSE 2021

From 08/30/2021 to 09/03/2021

Lyon - France

Plenary Speaker David Britain

David Britain has been Professor of Modern English Linguistics at the University of Bern in Switzerland since 2010, having previously worked in New Zealand and the UK. His research interests embrace language variation and change, varieties of English (especially in Southern England, the Southern Hemisphere and the Pacific), dialect contact and attrition, dialect ideologies, and the dialectology-human geography interface, especially with respect to space/place, urban/rural and the role of mobilities. He is editor of Language in the British Isles (Cambridge University Press, 2007), co-editor (with Jenny Cheshire) of Social Dialectology (Benjamins, 2003), co-author (with Laura Rupp) of Linguistic perspectives on a variable English morpheme: Let’s talk about -s. (Palgrave, 2019) and co-author of Linguistics: An Introduction (with Andrew Radford, Martin Atkinson, Harald Clahsen and Andrew Spencer) (Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 2009). Dave was Associate Editor of the Journal of Sociolinguistics between 2008 and 2017.

Plenary lecture: Islomania and English: what can islands tell us about the past and the present of English dialects?

Recent scholarship on so-called ‘lesser-known varieties of English’ (Schreier et al 2010) has foregrounded the importance of often remote, often isolated, often small, and usually until recently ignored dialects of English for understanding both the past and present of the language. This scholarship is important for a number of reasons:

Firstly, such Englishes have usually emerged away from the normative pressures of the standard language that have undoubtedly shaped the recent development of English in, for example, England. Examining these varieties allows us to look at English unfettered, to examine what is possible in English when less constrained by official normative influences.

Secondly, they have often emerged in unusual demographic circumstances, and are products of a particular time in colonial history and in socio-historical contexts that, one might argue, we may well never experience again.

They enable us, thirdly, to examine the role of relative isolation and peripherality at the moment of their genesis, but, given the advent of greater mobility, the consequences of greater contact with other communities more recently. And finally, they, in many cases, enable us to problematize the divide between so-called ‘inner circle’ L1 Englishes, on the one hand, and so-called outer circle L2 ‘World’ Englishes on the other.

In this presentation, I will present results from sociolinguistic research conducted with my colleagues and students on varieties of English that emerged in a wide range of socio-historical contexts on a number of often rather remote (or so it seems) islands of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans – these include, among others, Palau, Nauru, Kiribati and Tonga in the Pacific, the Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean, and the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, as well as islands nearer to the ideological centre, off the coast of Britain. I argue that such islands are especially rich sites for addressing the four concerns raised above – the emergence of dialects outside of the influence of the mainstream, at particular moments in colonial history, the impact of increased mobility and globalisation on their development and trajectories, and the interconnectedness of inner and outer circle Englishes.

Schreier, D. et al (2010). The lesser known varieties of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press