PROGRAM

Friday 6 March

9:00 – 9:30

Coffee, Registration and Welcome

9:30 – 12:30

Hands-on workshops – part one

A. Indexicality, enregisterment and third wave sociohistorical linguistics

Joan Beal (University of Sheffield)

B. Discovering and analysing code-switching and multilingual practices using corpora: From baseline frequencies to multifactorial predictions

Jukka Tyrkkö (Linnæus University)

12:30 – 13:30

Lunch at VUB Resto. Address: Building R, Boulevard de la Plaine 2, 1050 Ixelles.

Weekly Menu Available on VUB

13:30 – 16:00

Master class – Corpus-based analyses of historical register variation: Theoretical background, methodological issues and major research findings

Douglas Biber (Northern Arizona University)

16:00 – 16:30

Coffee

16:30 – 17:30

The Bad Data Lecture – The challenge of ‘bad data’

Marijke van der Wal (Leiden University)

18:45 – 20:30

20:45 – 21:45

Dinner at Het Goudblommeke in Papier. Address: Rue des Alexiens 55, 1000 Bruxelles.

Free Guided Brussels City Walk

Saturday 7 March

9:30 – 12:30

Hands-on workshops – part two

A. Indexicality, enregisterment and third wave sociohistorical linguistics

Joan Beal (University of Sheffield)

B. Discovering and analysing code-switching and multilingual practices using corpora: From baseline frequencies to multifactorial predictions

Jukka Tyrkkö (Linnæus University)

12:30 – 14:00

Lunch at U-Residence and Goodbye

Abstracts

Master Class – Douglas Biber

Corpus-based analyses of historical register variation: Theoretical background, methodological issues and major research findings

This masterclass will explore historical patterns of register variation and the role of register as a mediating factor for historical linguistic change. The class will begin with a brief discussion of theoretical concepts, including a comparison/contrast of the constructs of ‘register’, ‘genre’, ‘style’ and ‘text type’. The introductory part of the class will also include a comparison of two major research goals relating to historical register variation: describing historical change in the linguistic characteristics of registers, and describing change for a particular linguistic feature that is mediated by register differences. 

The second part of the masterclass will focus more on two specific methodological issues.  The first issue concerns two possible interpretations of historical shifts in linguistic patterns:  that the target genre/register has changed, or that there has been a change to a new genre/register.  And the second methodological issue relates to the correct interpretation of quantitative results in historical studies, distinguishing between results that describe the extent to which a linguistic feature is used in texts, versus results that describe the proportional preference of one linguistic variant over another.

Finally, the third part of the masterclass will focus on major research findings that have emerged from previous corpus-based studies of historical register variation.  Several previous studies will be briefly surveyed, but this final discussion will focus mostly on the historical evolution of grammatical complexity features in oral and literate registers.

Quantitative workshop – Jukka Tyrkkö

Discovering and analysing code-switching and multilingual practices using corpora: From baseline frequencies to multifactorial predictions

 

Qualitative workshop – Joan C. Beal

Indexicality, enregisterment and third wave sociohistorical linguistics

The ‘third wave’ of sociolinguistics is characterized by a focus on the active agency of communities of practice in constructing social meaning via linguistic variation. Eckert describes the third wave as “in its infancy” (2012, 88), and Conde-Silvestre (2016) admits that “historically-oriented approaches within the third wave are, at the moment, scarce” but, as Conde-Silvestre’s paper and those in Kopaczyk and Jucker’s (2013) collection demonstrate, historical sociolinguistics is beginning to catch the third wave.

Although the study of communities of practice has been the defining feature of third wave studies, two concepts that are essential to understanding the construction of social meaning from linguistic signs are those of indexicality and enregisterment. These terms have been used by Silverstein (2003) to account for different levels of awareness of the association between linguistic features and social characteristics on the part of speakers and hearers. Agha has developed and applied these concepts to explain “how the use of speech is interpreted in the light of […] value-systems” and “how particular systems of speech valorization come into existence in the first place and, once formed, exist as cultural phenomena over the course of some period for some locatable group of social persons” (2007, 15-16). Johnstone succinctly expresses the key research question for studies of indexicality and enregisterment: “How do particular words, ways of pronouncing words, grammatical patterns, and patterns of intonation come to point to particular identities and activities?” (2016, 632).

In this workshop, we will explore the potential usefulness of indexicality and enregisterment as tools for historical sociolinguistics. After a discussion of the key concepts and methodology, the first session will draw on historical evidence of metalinguistic and metapragmatic commentary to construct possible ‘indexicality fields’ for historical varieties of English. In the second session, we will look at ego-documents in which writers use enregistered features to do social work in constructing personae.

References

Agha, Asif. 2007. Language and Social Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Conde-Silvestre, J. Camilo. 2016. “A ‘Third-wave’ Historical Sociolinguistic Approach to Late Middle English Correspondence: Evidence from the Stonor Letters.” In  Current Trends in Historical Sociolinguistics,  ed. by Cinzia Russi, 46-66. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Eckert, Penelope 2012. “Three waves of variation study: the emergence of meaning in the study of variation.” Annual Review of Anthropology 41: 87-100.

Johnstone, Barbara. 2016.  “Enregisterment: How linguistic items become linked with ways of speaking.” Language and Linguistics Compass 10: 632-643.

Kopaczyk, Joanna and  Andreas Jucker (eds). 2013. Communities of Practice in the History of English. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Silverstein, Michael. 2003. “Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life.” Language and Communication 23: 193-229.

Keynote Lecture – Marijke van der Wal

The challenge of ‘bad data’: from sources and corpora to answering research questions

At the start of each research enterprise historical sociolinguists have to deal with the main issue of the required data. In the present world of big data optimism, the idea may arise that time-consuming compilation of specialised corpora is no longer needed. Does a short-cutting path lead us to convincing results? In this lecture we will discuss the relationship between specific research questions and appropriate historical data. The historical-sociolinguistic research programmes Letters as Loot (2008-2013), Going Dutch (2013-2018) and Pardon my French (2018-2023), conducted at Leiden University, focus on different periods in the history of Dutch. What do we learn from these large-scale projects which address different research questions? The various approaches and results will be considered against the background of methodological developments and current debate in historical sociolinguistics.