By Andries W. Coetzee
Nov 24, 2012
Professor Robin Queen gave a colloquium talk on November 2nd in the Language and Immigration Working Group at Wayne State University. This working group is sponsored by Wayne State's Humanities Center and aims to bring together faculty and graduate students from different disciplines to explore joint interests. Robin's talk was about her research on the language contact situation in the Turkish immigrant communities in Germany - also the topic of an upcoming publication in Language. In this research, Robin tracks the development a new intonational contrast in the speech of the 2nd and 3rd generation Turkish-German bilinguals living in Germany. Linguistics at Michigan is a center of excellence for research on language contact, as exemplified by this research of Robin's. The title and an abstract of the presentation follows below.
Intonation and language contact on the example of Turkish German bilinguals
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.