Robin Queen at University of Wisconsin


By Andries W. Coetzee
Mar 31, 2013 Bookmark and Share

Professor Robin Queen

Professor Robin Queen

Robin Queen gave a colloquium lecture on March 18 in the German Department at the University of Wisconsin Madison. The title of her talk was Turkish-German Intonation Patterns: Sociolinguistics in contact with Intonational Phonology. This talk is related to Robin's longstanding research interest in the linguistic situation of Turkish immigrants in Germany, and to her recent Language paper on which we reported on this blog a few weeks ago. Robin reports that the German Department at UW has  a very strong linguistics component and that she got to meet with students and other faculty working on a variety of interesting projects dealing with multilingualism in Berlin. The title and abstract of Robin's talk are given below.

Turkish-German Intonation Patterns: Sociolinguistics in contact with Intonational Phonology

The intonation patterns of Turkish German bilinguals reveal interesting contrasts within the context of language contact and language variation. Most of the work that has examined intonation in the context of bi or multilingualism as done so from the perspective of language learning or from the perspective of individual bilinguals, usually children. The data reported on here come from a dynamic situation of contact and are taken from two points in time. All participants were born in Germany to Turkish-speaking parents, and all performed a directed conversational task in both German and Turkish. The patterns exhibited do not differ significantly across time and thus offer strong evidence of an intonational change that is directly tied to language contact and bilingualism. The change in question involves the realization of phrase-final rises as produced by 2nd and 3rd generation Turkish-German bilinguals living in Germany. These speakers produce two phonetically, phonologically and pragmatically distinct rises, one of which appears more canonically Turkish and the other of which appears more canonically German. The primary phonetic differences between the two rises include the relative alignment and slope of the rise, with one rise aligning on the final syllable of the word regardless of the stress pattern and showing a significantly steeper slope than the other. Although the source of these two rises is likely the two languages used by the speakers, this is not a case of intonational code-switching. Rather, the two rises, along with other edge phenomena, form an intonational system in which they are in contrast with one another as well as with falls and level edge contours and as such play different pragmatic roles relative to one another.