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Special Research Area 538. Multilingualism


GROUP H: Historical Aspects of Multilingualism and Variance

Coordinator: Kurt Braunmüller

Preliminary remark: The eight projects in this group (H1, H3, H5, H6, H8 and H 9 as well as K4 and K8) have emerged from groups H and K respectively for the SFB’s third phase. The H-Projects H8 and H9 are new. Due to numerous commonalities in content and in order to further improve cooperation between the individual projects, these two groups were joined to build one large group for the last phase (2008–2011).

The collective objective of the projects united in group H is to work together closely on the following fields of work:

  • We aim to determine to what extent the grammatical systems of genetically closely related languages interpolate as a result of alternating use by bilinguals, whether or not languages are mixed and what consequences genetic closeness has for the typological development of contact languages. This is the main point of interest in projects H6 and K8, with project H3 also being concerned with these questions. Results from K4 show that genetic relations promote English influence on German texts. Further results in the fields of phonetics and phonology are expected from project H9.
  • Further, we will investigate morpho-syntactical phenomena occurring when languages that are only remotely related in genetic terms collide in contact situations. The main research focus addresses in what way universal and typological parameters lead to convergences or potentially to divergences and new varieties. The new project H8 will be able to base its work on the detailed preliminary work from projects H1, H5 and H3. The diversity of theoretical and methodical approaches does admittedly lead to partly differing predictions concerning the role of language contact in processes of language change. Using this as a positive synergy-effect, however, helps to sharpen the respective argumentation.
  • Up until now, the often overlying role of a lingua franca has only been researched insufficiently. The intensive studies of project K4 (dealing with English) serve as a starting point for studies that intend to show whether the results can be translated to previous language conditions and constellations. This aspect will also be examined in H3 for Latin.
  • In cooperation with the projects of group E, we intend to explore in what way these results concerning former language contact situations correspond with research in bilingual language acquisition. This will particularly concern projects H1, H5, H6 and H9 with the addition of H8. A common basis for historical and present-time multilingualism research will thus be ensured. After all, it is not reasonable to posit something concerning the past which we know cannot be proved through the study of present language contact situations. 
  • Cooperation with two of the transfer projects, T1 and T3, is already in progress. These are concerned with varieties (of English) and the realization of multilingual communication in business, respectively. Both have counterparts in the historical field, with a transfer thus occurring in both directions.

Projects in this group:

H1: Multilingualism as Cause and Effect of Language Change: Historical Syntax of Romance Languages
(Jürgen M. Meisel & Esther Rinke)

H3: Scandinavian Syntax in a Multilingual Setting
(Kurt Braunmüller)

H5: Hiberno-English: Variation and Universals in Contact-Induced Language Change 
(Peter Siemund)

H6: Phono-prosodic development of Catalan in its current bilingual context
(Conxita Lleó)

H8: Current Polish-German Bilingualism in Germany
(Bernhard Brehmer)

H9: The Intonation of Spanish in Argentina
(Christoph Gabriel)

K4: Covert Translation
(Juliane House)

K8: Variation in Multilingualism on the Faroe Islands
(Kurt Braunmüller)


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