The role of multimodal turn-completion cues in facilitating precision-timed turn transition

Together with colleagues from Freiburg (Christoph Rühlemann, Peter Auer), Gießen (Stefan Th. Gries), and Nijmegen (Judith Holler), we are going to investigate how various multimodal turn-completion cues produced by speakers who are approaching the end of their planned turn are acting together. In Rostock, we focus on prosodic cues such as creak, pitch, and turn-final lengthening, and bring this together with the other teams working on gestural and verbal cues. Through this combination we will find out which role individual cues play in facilitating precision-timed turn transitions in interactions. We will also explore connections between prosodic turn-completion cues and the social and pragmatic contexts of individual utterances, for example speaker and listener age and gender, conversation topic, and stance-taking.

The project is funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and will run from September 2022 – August 2025.

Sociolinguistics of Dublin English

I am working on the connections between language production and social and pragmatic context in Dublin in this project. The focus of this work is on the sociophonetics of Dublin English, where I connect phonetic variation with ethnographic observations and linguistic landscaping. Apart from learning more about sociolinguistic variation in Dublin today, I am interested in the development of Irish English more generally, and thus incorporate diachronic data whenever possible.

In the context of my post-doctoral dissertation (Habilitation) I have investigated the phonetic realisations of different consonant and vowel segments in Dublin English. I have combined an acoustic phonetic analysis of the diphthong /ai/ and word-final /t/ with sociolinguistic and pragmatic considerations. Both macro-level social categories like gender and more fluid aspects of the communicative situation in the form of stance-taking have been a part of this. This project has shown that phonetic realisation correlates with different pragmatic functions, for example in the case of different uses of the word like, but phonetic details also contribute to the positioning of speakers and the stances they take outside of pragmatic markers. The combination of phonetic, sociolinguistic, and pragmatic analysis helps us understand the macro-level patterns we find in contemporary Dublin.

This work on the sociophonetics of Dublin English has sparked a number of smaller research projects. I am interested in whether the connection between the different functions of pragmatic markers and their phonetic realisation extends beyond the pragmatic marker like, and am investigating other markers, for example but and kind of. The development of Irish English as a postcolonial variety since the independence of the Republic of Ireland in the early 20th century is point of interest. On the basis of diachronic data I am researching recent phonetic changes in supra-regional Irish English and connecting that with the sociolinguistic variation observed in Ireland today.

Of Apple Trees and Christmas Trees. Multispecies Conviviality and Linguistic Performance of Knowledge and Authority

In the broader context of environmental humanities, and especially plant studies, I work together with Carolin Schwegler (MESH, Universität zu Köln) on the expression of stances of knowledge and authority in the discourses and conversations about Christmas trees and apple trees. More information is going to follow soon.

Language Use in Multilingual Contexts

This ongoing project investigates the linguistic choices made by multilingual speakers in different situations. I would like to find out which of the multiple languages that could be used are chosen by speakers in different contexts. Data come from an ethnography of a social group of L2 speakers of English in Ireland and linguistic landscaping and soundscaping in Namibia. I also connect language use in multilingual contexts with sociophonetic questions, for example by investigating the phonetic realisations of L2 speakers of English, describing changes over time, and connecting these with realisations produced by L1 speakers.

Semantics of Derivational Morphology

My research on this topic started with my doctoral dissertation where I investigated the semantic structure of two English suffixes, –age and –ery, in Middle English and Present Day English. To do this, I used a semantic map approach, which I adapted to account for the semantics of derivational affixes. These semantic maps provide a good means of comparing the change in the semantics of –age and –ery that can be observed in both dictionary and corpus data, but they can also be used to compare different derivational affixes in the same language and morphological categories across different languages. I found substantial changes in the derivatives of –age and –ery, both in terms of their semantics but also regarding their formal structure.

To find out whether the changes I observed in the word-formation patterns of the suffixes –age and –ery were restricted to these two suffixes, I used the same methodology to analyse diachronic changes in semantically and formally similar suffixes: –hood, –dom, and –ship. Derivatives of these three suffixes also change considerably over time, so semantic change in derivational morphology does not seem to be confined to individual word-formation patterns. As both –age and –ery are borrowed into Middle English from French, the question arose how similar or different the English word-formation pattern might be from the French one, and what this might tell us more generally about the borrowing of derivational morphology. To investigate this, I used the semantic map method I developed for my doctoral dissertation to analyse the Middle French suffix –erie and compare this to its Middle English equivalent –ery. This showed that borrowing does not necessarily lead to semantic reduction in the recipient language, but the word-formation pattern is also not an instance of simple copying into a different context.