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Lecture Series of the Project Group "Language Dynamics Across the Life Span"

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Sociolinguistic perspectives on language dynamics in old age
When Nov 14, 2016
from 02:15 PM to 03:45 PM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Seminar Room
Attendees öffentlich / open to the public
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Sociolinguistic perspectives on language dynamics in old age

Prof. Annette Gerstenberg (Freie Universität Berlin)

The dynamics of language use in old age is not limited to a decline of competencies, due to somatic and cognitive changes – in healthy aging, communicative functions are well maintained. As the number of older people is continuously growing, the challenge of developing sociolinguistic approaches to old age is equally getting more and more important. In apparent time studies, cohort effects have emerged in the older age groups, indicating that linguistic usage differs from one generation to the other. An emerging field is the sampling and analysis of longitudinal data reflecting linguistic evolutions during a lifespan (Sankoff 2013). As in other fields of aging studies (Baltes 2007), a lot of evidence has been found to indicate that individual factors play an important role also in linguistic aging.

Our lecture is based on LangAge, a corpus comprised of biographic interviews with older French speakers, conducted at intervals of 7 and 10 years between each meeting (2005/2012/2015). Firstly, we show how patterns of linguistic variation evolve from one time period to the next. Secondly, we ask how individual factors such as attitudes and personality traits can be taken into consideration in order to increase our understanding of these patterns.

Corpora for Language and Aging Research (CLARe) / Corpus LangAge


Baltes, Paul B. 2007. Alter(n) als Balanceakt. In Peter Gruss (ed.), Die Zukunft des Alterns: Die Antwort der Wissenschaft. Ein Report der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, 15–34. München: C.H. Beck.

Gerstenberg, Annette & Anja Voeste. 2015. Investigating the Lifespan Perspective. In ead. (eds.), Language Development: the Lifespan Perspective (Impact: Studies in language and society Volume 37), 1–8. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Sankoff, Gillian. 2013. Longitudinal Studies. In Robert Bayley, Richard Cameron & Ceil Lucas (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Sociolinguistics (Oxford handbooks in linguistics), [1–13]. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Overview of all lectures within the series "Language Dynamics across the Life Span"