Research

Sociolinguistics of Dublin English

I am currently working on the connection between language production and sociolinguistic correlates in Dublin. The focus of this work is on sociophonetics and I am using recorded sociolinguistic interviews and data from radio and television as the basis for my phonetic research. For the non-phonetic aspects I also rely on other data, for example ethnographic observations and linguistic landscaping. Apart from learning more about sociolinguistic variation in Dublin today, I am interested in the development of this variety, and thus incorporate diachronic data whenever possible.

In the context of my post-doctoral research project 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 societies.

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 since the independence of the Republic of Ireland in the early 20th century is another focus. 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.

Selected publications connected with this topic:

Schulte, Marion. 2020. Positive evaluative stance and /t/ frication – a sociophonetic analysis of /t/ realisations in Dublin English. In Raymond Hickey & Carolina P. Amador-Moreno (eds.), Irish identities – sociolinguistic perspectives. Berlin: de Gruyter, 84-103.

Schulte, Marion. 2019. The sociophonetics of Dublin English – Phonetic realisation and sociopragmatic variation. Habilitationsschrift, Universität Bielefeld.

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, observations and interviews with secondary school students who are L2 speakers of German in Germany, 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.

Selected publications connected with this topic:

Schulte, Marion. fc. The linguistic landscape and soundscape of Windhoek. In Anne Schröder (ed.), The dynamics of English in Namibia. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Schulte, Marion. under contract. Silencing of native languages among L2 speakers of English in Ireland. In Mahshid Mayar & Marion Schulte (eds.), Silence and silencing in history, language, and culture. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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.

Selected publications connected with this topic:

Schulte, Marion. 2019. The semantic development of borrowed derivational morphology – change and stability in French-English language contact, Diachronica 36:1, 65-98.

Schulte, Marion. 2017. Investigating semantic change in derivational morphology. In Elise Louviot & Catherine Delesse (eds.), Studies in language variation and change 2: Shifts and turns in the history of English. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 38-57.

Schulte, Marion. 2015. The semantics of derivational morphology. A synchronic and diachronic Investigation of the suffixes -age and -ery in English. Tübingen: Narr.

Schulte, Marion. 2015. Polysemy and synonymy in derivational affixation. A case study of the English suffixes -age and -ery, Morphology 25:4, 371-390.