PhD Alumni

Andreas Bürki Basel

Formulaic Language and Its Cultural Context: a diachronic perspective

ErstbetreuerProf. Dr. Annelies Häcki Buhofer
ZweitbetreuerProf. Dr. Dr. h. c. Christian Mair
DisziplinAllgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
StatusVerteidigt
Publikationhttps://baselbern.swissbib.ch/Record/308236807

My dissertation is entitled 'Formulaic Language and its Cultural Context: a diachronic perspective'. It is an empirical corpus study investigating change in formulaic language on the basis of the 20 million word diachronic Swiss Text Corpus of written German. The focus of the investigation is on how change in formulaic language relates to social and cultural change in the speech community.

Formulaic language consists of linguistic items, typically larger in extent than words, that represent usual ways of putting things in a speech community. These include such phenomena as conversational formulae ('Thank you very much' ? 'not at all'), collocations ('face a challenge', 'utter disgrace'), multi-word units ('dual carriage way') as well as other usual sequences ('half an hour', 'no chance of X', 'behind closed doors'). While there has been some previous research suggesting close links between formulaic language and culture, this has not been investigated beyond individual isolated instances and not from a diachronic perspective. In the thesis, a new method for the automatic extraction of items of formulaic language from corpus material was developed which is suited to German language data and the aims of the project and subsequently enabled an assessment of the extent of diachronic change in formulaic language. This showed for the first time that the rate of change in formulaic language proceeds at notably faster pace than lexical change, but that the proportion of formulaic language in the corpus was not itself subject to significant change. In a second phase, motivations for observed instances of change in the corpus were researched. This necessitated the development of a method of identifying significant change among extracted items of formulaic language. A detailed qualitative analysis of a sample of individual instances of change revealed illuminating cases of the influence of cultural change in the speech community on formulaic language and demonstrated the potential of linguistic data to complement or in some cases significantly augment knowledge on historical social change and cultural conditions. The analysis also revealed that culturally motivated change was by no means limited to strictly atomic items of the lexicon, but included morphological and syntactic aspects. The contribution of other motivating factors was also evident and characterised in more detail. Most intriguingly, the analysis of the sample revealed that whilst social and cultural motivators of change are often side-lined in historical linguistics, cases of cultural motivation were neither trivial nor rare: apart from cases of change whose motivation remained unclear, changes in formulaic language motivated by cultural change represented the largest proportion in the sample, followed by language-internal motivators which accounted for a significantly smaller proportion of changes. This demonstrates that cultural motivation of linguistic change is not confined to words or the spread of sound change (as previously thought), but motivates types of change traditionally analysed as semantic, syntactic and morphological change, in turn suggesting that language as a system, rather than merely language use, is closely tied to the culture of a speech community.


Kontakt

Emailbuerkia@cardiff.ac.uk



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Das geisteswissenschaftliche Projekt aus der Linguistik steht unter der Leitung der Universität Freiburg und wird gemeinsam mit den Universitäten Basel, Haute-Alsace und Strasbourg umgesetzt. Information und Kontakt

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Ab 1. Dezember 2018 stehen Ihnen als assoziierte ProfessorInnen unserer Schule Prof. Dr. Juan Ennis, U. La Plata / Buenos Aires; Prof. Dr. Mar Garachana, U. Barcelona, Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Gülich, U. Bielefeld und Prof. Dr. Michael B. Buchholz, I.P.U. Berlin als BetreuerInnen und/oder GutachterInnen zur Verfügung. Wir begrüßen die neuen KollegInnen in unserer Runde!

Am 15.Oktober 2018 wurde das Corpus Salcedo von Pieter Muysken veröffentlicht. Es wurde in Freiburg und Basel in Zusammenarbeit mit einem internationalen Team editiert und kann nun über das in Freiburg entwickelte Korpusverwaltungstool moca3 (Daniel Alcón) genutzt werden.

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PhD Scholarships Hermann Paul Scholarships in Linguistics 2019

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PhD Scholarships Hermann Paul Scholarships in Linguistics 2018

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PhD Scholarships Hermann Paul Scholarships in Linguistics 2017

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