Anglistik und Amerikanistik

Guest lecture: Prof. Dr. Svenja Kranich, "Democratization and the changing English language"

Datum: 12.12.2023, 10:15 - 11:45 Uhr
Kategorie: Startseite
Ort: Hubland Süd, Geb. Z6 (Zentrales Hörsaal- u. Seminargebäude), 0.004
Veranstalter: Lehrstuhl für Englische Sprachwissenschaft

Since around 1960, numerous changes have occurred in Western societies, such as more participation in society, and less formal hierarchies in the workplace. These changes pay greater attention to equality and flatten power structures, a development also called democratization. However, what does this mean for language use? For instance, are people nowadays less likely to emphasize their position of power or less likely to show deference to someone with more power? And if so, can this be plausibly connected to changes in society?

Although a lot of previous linguistic research has uncovered changes during the past decades, no study has systematically linked these recent changes with sociocultural processes such as democratization. The talk will focus on recent language change in different varieties of English and compare these to German, to show how the developments in different countries and cultures are similar or different. Data has been collected from informants belonging to different age groups, so as to uncover change with the help of synchronic data. Our data complements discourse completion tasks with corpus-based studies and qualitative interviews, to get a nuanced picture of ongoing language change and democratization.


Prof. Dr. Svenja Kranich has been Chair of English Linguistics at the University of Bonn since 2016. Before, she was assistant professor at the University of Mainz from 2013 to 2016 and held positions as senior lecturer in Salzburg and as researcher at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism (SFB 538) at the University of Hamburg. She received her post-doctoral degree (Habilitation) from the University of Mainz in 2016 and her PhD in 2008 from the Freie Universität Berlin, where she had also obtained her M.A. in English and French philology.

Her main research interests include grammaticalization, aspect and modality, principles of language change, translation studies and language contact as well as contrastive and cross-cultural pragmatics. Recently, her work has focused especially on the impact of social and cultural change on changes in linguistic conventions, the impact of democratization as well as on queer linguistics, especially the linguistic expression of queer identities.

Her most important publications include her 2016 monograph Contrastive Pragmatics and Translation (published with John Benjamins), her 2010 monograph The Progressive in Modern English (published with Rodopi), co-edited volumes Lost in Change (with Tine Breban, 2021, John Benjamins) and What happens after Grammaticalization? (also with Tine Breban, 2015, Special Issue of Language Sciences).