Lehrstuhl für Englische Sprachwissenschaft

    Guest lectures


    Prof. Dr. Alexander Bergs

    The Department of English Linguistics cordially invites you to a guest lecture by

    Prof. Dr. Alexander Bergs (University of Osnabrück):

    Historical sociolinguistics: Limits, risks, and chances

    Historical sociolinguistics explores the life and times of language users in history and how these may be related to their particular language use. In this challenging enterprise it seeks to employ theories, models, and methods from all three waves of modern sociolinguistics in order to shed light on the social context of past language use. However, both linguistic and social data for past language stages prove to be limited in certain, specific ways. This does not preclude historical sociolinguistic analyses, but it necessitates careful consideration of these limits when designing and conducting studies in historical sociolinguistics. At the same time, the very nature of this data can also open up windows for some new and exciting perspectives which are difficult to investigate in present-day approaches. In this talk, I will present some exemplary case studies from the history of English that illustrate the limits, risks, and chances in sociolinguistic explorations in the past. 


    June 27, 2023 – 14:00 c.t.

    Philosophiegebäude, Hörsaal 5

    (presented as part of Linguistisches Kolloquium and the lecture series “A History of English”)

    Prof. Dr. Dominic Watt

    The Department of English Linguistics cordially invites you to a guest lecture by

    Prof. Dr. Dominic Watt (University of Vechta):

    From Tweed to Tees: Using the Geographical Association Test (GAT) to test sociophonetic sensitivity among listeners from north-east England

    'The Use and Utility of Localised Speech Forms in Determining Identity: Forensic and Sociophonetic Perspectives' (TUULS) project examined phonetic variation from two standpoints: forensic speech science, and sociolinguistics. Highly-localised pronunciations are useful to the police when seeking to determine an unknown speaker's origin, and for sociolinguists it is informative to know how precisely phonetic features can place speakers geographically. TUULS focused on three cities in northeast England (Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough), in each of which we recorded 40 speakers stratified by sex, age, and mobility level. We also ran perception tests gauging how closely local listeners associate particular speech forms with specific subareas within their region.

    One such task was the 'Geographical Association Test' (GAT). We played approximately 50 target forms -  single-word utterances drawn from sociolinguistic interviews - to 10 listeners per locality. Using an on-screen drag-and-drop task, participants indicated on a map the place they most closely associated with a form. The results demonstrate correlations between the perceptual and production data, and locality-dependent differentials in listeners' sensitivity to the stimuli.

    The GAT is effective for gathering evidence of listeners' awareness of ongoing sound changes. When combined with other tests, GAT yields insights into the links between speech production and perception, and psychosocial motivations for accent maintenance. Further, it helps establish what 'localised' means to speakers themselves, rather than just being a label of convenience that linguists impose on phonetic variants.


    June 27, 2023 – 18:00 c.t.

    Philosophiegebäude, Übungsraum 11

    (presented as part of Linguistisches Kolloquium)

    Past lectures

    Prof. Dr. Anita Fetzer

    "It's a very good thing to bring democracy erm directly to everybody at home": The strategic use of 'doing ordinariness' in mediated political discourse


    Prof. Dr. Raymond Hickey

    Examining ‘Bad Data’: Ego Documents in the History of English


    Dr. Tobias Bernaisch

    Random Forests in R: A Practical Introduction


    Dr. Alena Soloshenko and Dr. Fabio Carrella

    English Linguistics Thesis Talks


    Dr. Tobias Bernaisch

    The Structure of Sri Lankan English: Empirical Perspectives


    Assoc. Prof. Susanne Mohr and Katrin Renkwitz, M.A.

    Irish Sign Language (ISL)


    Prof. Dr. Magnus Huber

    The "Old Bailey Corpus" and its potential for the study of Late Modern English


    Prof. Dr. Anita Fetzer

    "The question people are asking is this" – The strategic use of references to ordinariness in political discourse


    Prof. Dr. Markus Bieswanger

    Applied Linguistics: State of the Art and Concrete Applications


    Prof. Dr. Lawrence Solan

    Corpus Linguistics as a Tool in Legal Interpretation


    Gaby Axer, M.A.

    Forensic linguistics – Opportunities and challenges


    Prof. Dr. Kate Burridge

    "Frequent coarse language" – Swearing and taboo language downunder


    Prof. Dr. Pam Peters

    An Antipodean standard – How similar are Australian and New Zealand English in their grammar and style?


    Prof. Dr. Kristin Hanson

    "To th' course of alt'ring things"
    Formal Innovation and the Meter of Shakespeare's Sonnets