Miriam Meyerhoff, Professor of Linguistics, University of Auckland
Host: Norma Mendoza-Denton/Linguistic Anthropology Division
Title: Migration statistics fo a different order: Linguistic insights behind the politics of migration
Thursday, October 18, 2 PM
ILC Room 140
Abstract: Language is integral to the experience of migrants and it is an important part of how we negotiate a place in relation to the people that we come into contact with when we relocate. In virtually every community you might care to look at, there are interesting linguistic legacies of migration and contact. In this talk, I will outline the complexity of the linguistic task that migrants face, particularly when faced with variable input, and using quantitative methods I will show how variable linguistic input is creatively resolved and (re-)interpreted. My examples will come from two main sources: a long-standing interest in language contact in Vanuatu (SW Pacific) and the emergence of a stable creole language there; and more recent work looking at what teenage migrants to the UK pick up from their local counterparts. The two case studies complement each other. From Vanuatu, we get a broader picture of how migration has led to new language varieties, and the emergence of formal categories in language. From the teenagers in the UK, we get a closer look at the early stages of language contact and some of the micro-dynamics of assimilation and resistance to assimilation.
Professor Miriam Meyerhoff is faculty in the Department of Applied Language Studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her areas of expertise include language variation and change (qualitative and quantitative methods); gender and language; pidgins and creoles (especially Bislama and other Pacific creoles and also the creole spoken in Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines); varieties of English and New Zealand English more particularly; social networks and communities of practice; perceptions and attitudes about language and language users.