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Language contact and the history of English - IAS Invited Lecture Series

The inaugural lecture of the IAS Invited Lecture Series in Multilingual History of English, organised by the Faculty of English and convened by professors Matylda Włodarczyk and Marcin Krygier, will take place on March 04, 2022 at 15.00 p.m. CET.

Prof. Raymond Hickey (University of Duisburg and Essen)
“Language contact and the history of English”

Abstract: The purpose of this presentation will be to re-examine the case for contact in the history of English. In recent years great strides have been made in research into the nature and extent of language contact, revisiting and revising traditional accounts of contact, especially in the history of English. The revalorisation of language contact as a valid explanatory model for many instances of language change (see Hickey ed., 2020, the section on language contact in Nevalainen and Traugott eds, 2012 and other references below) has meant that well-known and well-documented instances of change have been re-examined in the light of new insights into contact. The revisionist approach to language contact in the history of English is known as the Celtic hypothesis and has been re-evaluated in Filppula and Klemola (eds, 2009).

A series of phenomena in the history of English are worth considering in the light of contact. These include (i) the rise of the internal possessor construction, (ii) the double function of certain pronouns as reflexives and emphatic particles, (iii) the rise of the progressive in English and (iv) the increased use of topicalisation strategies. The case for contact is not equally strong in each case and a differentiated view of the features in question is necessary.

For this presentation the external situation of the English-speaking community in England during its history will be centre-stage. For instance, the quantitative relationship of Celtic to Germanic speakers will be examined and the progression of language shift from one language to the other in the course of the Old English period will be brought into focus. Furthermore, such sociolinguistically differentiated contact scenarios as that between English and Scandinavians on the one hand and English and Anglo-Normans on the other will be considered to illucidate the results of contact observable in the English language.

The lecture will be held on Zoom. Please register at https://forms.office.com/r/YunHLpvVpX to receive the link to the online meeting.