Room BG09A (Building 9), Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London, NW4 4BT
Recent patterns of immigration have had different linguistic outcomes in the cities of Europe. In this talk Jenny considers two such different outcomes. ‘Multicultural London English’ (MLE) is a variable repertoire of core innovative forms of English (including, for example, a new pronoun (it’s her personality man’s looking at) and a new quotative (this is me “why you doing that for?”) heard in many multilingual areas of London. For many speakers MLE is the usual vernacular style of speaking, while for others it is a style that they adopt from time to time in order to sound ‘street cool’. Monolingual young Londoners as well as their bilingual friends all use the innovations, though their use is spearheaded by the bilingual speakers. Our research in multilingual areas of Paris replicated the London research but, in contrast to London, found very few linguistic innovations.
In this talk Jenny will consider why young people in multilingual areas of Paris are less linguistically innovative than young people in similar areas of London. She will argue that, in general, increased mobility increases linguistic variation and linguistic change, but the extent to which the variation is innovative is determined by what Dell Hymes termed ‘the longer view’: the political, social and cultural context. Nonetheless, looking at the interactions of individual speakers in both London and Paris shows that young people use linguistic variation to accomplish similar interactional and interpersonal goals, whatever the larger scale sociocultural and political context.
Jenny Cheshire is Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London. She works on different aspects of language variation and change. She has received numerous research awards recognising her significant contributions to the field of sociolinguistics, including Multicultural London English. Her recent projects have analysed language innovation in multicultural London, and language change in multicultural Paris, especially syntactic and discourse-pragmatic change. She is also interested in developing educational resources for studying language variation and change. She has written over ten books and 90 articles in peer-reviewed international research journals and edited collections. For a list of selected publications, see http://jennycheshire.com/publications. Jenny is currently editor-in-chief of the journal Language in Society and a Fellow of the British Academy.