Theme 3: MultiLingual Minds and Closely Related Varieties (MultiLectal Minds) --- PIs: Øystein Vangsnes & Terje Lohndal
Prof II: Elma Blom
PIs: Øystein Vangsnes, Terje Lohndal
Adjunct Professor (Prof II): Elma Blom
Postdoc: Tekabe Legesse Feleke
While there is an increasing focus on multilingualism in linguistic research, rather little work has been done on the many speakers who master multiple dialects and/or closely related linguistic varieties. Many of these speakers find themselves in societies characterized by language hierarchies and ideologies where one or a few national or regional varieties have a more prominent status and are familiar to all speakers, whereas more local varieties are less widespread and quantitatively less often encountered. Moreover, literacy plays an important role insofar that the different varieties may be coded in script, either by official standards or by user-driven norms (e.g. in computer-mediated communication), whereas in some cases just one of the varieties may be written and the others primarily spoken. Very little is known about how the mental grammars of these multilectal speakers are structured, let alone what factors structure them (cf. Theme 1), how they vary across speakers in their different communities, and to what extent mastery of dialects and closely related varieties mimic other types of bi- and multilingualism (Themes 2 and 4).
The aim of this theme is to develop a new model of the grammatical architecture in individuals who possess knowledge of multiple closely related linguistic varieties. We will investigate different types of language ecologies that make it possible to probe how speakers use and process several minimally different varieties. The theme will focus on the emergence (acquisition), variation and attrition of such varieties, which will provide us with new insights about a wider spectrum of multilingual speakers. The following typology of (multi)lectal profiles, adapted from Lundquist & Vangsnes (2018), will guide the investigations in Theme 3:
1. The true multilectal: A speaker who can adjust her predictions based on input from the lect in question.
2. The true/ignorant monolectal: A speaker who uses morphosyntactic features in her online comprehension in her own lect (Lect1), but fails to do so in the other lect (Lect2).
3. The monolectal generalizer: A speaker who imposes the grammatical system of Lect1 onto Lect2.
4. The accommodated monolectal: A speaker who imposes the grammatical system of Lect2 onto Lect1.
The theme will address the question of how multilectal knowledge is organized in the mental grammar of the user (RQ 3 above). Is the knowledge of one lect integrated in the grammar of another lect, or are they kept apart? A close and in-depth study of different kinds of multilectal speakers in Norway and beyond will provide evidence that can inform long-standing questions of the nature of bilingual grammars (cf. Roeper 1999; Amaral & Roeper 2014; Alexiadou & Lohndal 2016).
The Norwegian language situation and the North Germanic dialect continuum will be at the center of attention in Theme 3. There are several reasons for this. First, there is a growing understanding of speakers’ attitudes towards other dialects in Norway, and also solid documentation of the geographical distribution of different linguistic properties (Sandøy 2015, 2016). However, there is hardly any knowledge of the individual dialect speakers’ processing strategies (and difficulties) when encountering other dialects or a regional standard, or even how speakers perceive structural differences between dialects. Second, several members of our research group played central roles in the comprehensive Scandinavian dialect syntax project (ScanDiaSyn / NORMS), a pan-Nordic collaboration on documenting, mapping, and exploring grammatical variation in the North Germanic language area led from Tromsø (Vangsnes & Johannessen 2019). There is thus extensive knowledge in the group about grammatical variation in Norwegian and across North Germanic more widely. Third, dialect switching is commonplace among Norwegian children in role-playing, more specifically between local dialects and a variety resembling Standard Eastern Norwegian, i.e. the Oslo dialect (cf. Kleemann 2015). This means that many Nor¬wegian children go through a phase lasting several years where they entertain a diglossic practice, and although the context for it is quite specific, it raises a host of questions regarding the acquisition of multilectal competence. Fourth, with its two written standard languages, Bokmål and Nynorsk, unevenly distributed across individuals and areas, and with extensive non-standard, dialect-like private writing practices (Vangsnes 2019), Norway offers ample oppor¬tu¬nities to investigate the significance of oracy and literacy for the development of grammatical competencies (Vangsnes, Söderlund & Blekesaune 2017); cf. Theme 1.
We also aspire to tap into the language proximity factor (see Theme 4) in a cross-linguistic, largely comparative way, by examining multilectalism in populations that speak closely related varieties. In recent years, our research group has expanded its domain of expertise in investigations of closely related varieties, such as Brazilian/European Portuguese, Spanish/Catalan, and Standard Greek/Cypriot Greek (e.g. Leivada, Papadopoulou, Kambanaros & Grohmann 2017). By investigating both linguistic factors (i.e. typological proximity, writing practices) and social factors (i.e. attitudes towards diglossia, overt/covert prestige), we will capture the dynamic relationships among the many variables that inform the process of building a lect in multilectal minds and contexts. Theme 3 will deal with acquisition and development with different trajectories (bi(dia)lectals, multilectals, attriters, heritage learners) that naturally differ in terms of exposure; hence, it will provide valuable results in all three domains of interest in AcqVA: acquisition, variation, and attrition.
Address to this page: https://uit.no/research/acqva#665344_buttoncont3