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Humanities and Social Sciences Colloquium - Robert Mailhammer

How does the mind respond to extreme variation? Clues from English on Croker Island, Australia

Dr. Robert Mailhammer
Languages
Western Sydney University

How does the mind respond to extreme variation? Clues from English on Croker Island, Australia
When Feb 06, 2017
from 11:15 AM to 12:45 PM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Seminar Room
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 (0)761 203-97362
Attendees universitätsöffentlich / open to university members
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One fundamental problem of any academic discipline is how to deal with variation in the data. A general approach is to find conditioning factors that enable us to predict the occurrence of a particular variant. In linguistics, the problem of variation is not just a theoretical problem, but it is also a problem for our concept of the mind. If we aren't able to account adequately for the variation - i.e. in a non-random way -in a description, how can our minds navigate between seemingly isofunctional variants and ensure successful communication? My project investigates variation in English spoken on Croker Island, Australia. In this multilingual and multidialectal environment finding conditioning factors to account for variation has proven difficult. I will show data suggesting that variants may not belong to one system but to several system, and that these variants are then recruited for other purposes.