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English in Australia: Variation and change in diverse linguistic communities.

Organiser: Celeste Rodríguez Louro (University of Western Australia)

The study of variation and change has been vibrantly on the rise since Labov’s ground-breaking studies of sound change in Martha’s Vineyard (1963) and New York City (1966). Among others, American, Canadian, British and New Zealand English have received widespread attention and phonological, morphosyntactic and discourse-pragmatic phenomena have been broadly documented (cf. Schneider, Burridge, Kortmann, Mesthrie & Upton 2004). The complex picture arising from this research has motivated the expansion of theoretical models (e.g., Docherty, Foulkes, Milroy, Milroy & Walshaw 1997) and highlighted the constrained variability arising from language use in monolingual and bilingual settings (Torres Cacoullos & Travis 2010; Meyerhoff & Schleef in press). Methodologically, progress in research has been aided by the creation of large corpora of naturally-occurring data, an essential tool in researching language variation and change.

In the peer-reviewed literature, phonetic/phonological (e.g., Cox 1997; Kiesling 2005; Loakes, Hajek & Fletcher 2010), grammatical (e.g., Engel & Ritz 2000; Collins 2009) and discourse-pragmatic (e.g., Burridge & Florey 2002; Mulder & Thompson 2008) aspects of English in Australia have been explored based on divergent data, including—among many others—online corpora (Collins 2009; Peters 2009), naturally-occurring conversation and sociolinguistic interviews (Rodríguez Louro forthcoming) and questionnaires (Collins & Peters 2004: 594). Additionally, within the Labovian paradigm, the relationship between the internal and external factors constraining variation was initially explored by Hovarth (1985) in her ground-breaking treatment of sociolinguistic conditioning in the sociolects of Sydney. These studies have helped describe a series of unique linguistic features for the different varieties, contributing in so doing to advancing the claim for the “endonormativity” of Australian English (Collins & Peters 2004) and establishing the existence of crucial dialectal differentiation within Australia (Kaldor & Malcolm 1991).

The aim of this workshop is to bring together scholars interested in the linguistic and social forces shaping English in Australia’s diverse linguistic communities, focusing on phonetic/phonological, grammatical and discourse-pragmatic variation. The workshop consists of presentations by leading scholars in the field (by invitation) as well as other interested contributors (via standard abstract submission). The availability of various large corpora of English across diverse communities in Australia (e.g., the Australian National Corpus, the Big Australian Speech Corpus) now allows us to more deeply engage with the study of variation and change. This workshop seeks to make an exciting contribution in this direction.

Authors will be invited to submit papers based on their presentations for a Special Issue of Australian Journal of Linguistics edited by Celeste Rodríguez Louro. Accepted papers will be published in 2013.

Invited presentations

Kate Burridge, Monash University
Jenny Cheshire, Queen Mary, University of London, England
Peter Collins & Xinyue Yao, University of New South Wales
Gerry Docherty, Newcastle University, UK
John Hajek, Debbie Loakes & Janet Fletcher University of Melbourne
Ian Malcolm, Edith Cowan University
Jean Mulder & Jill Vaughan, University of Melbourne
Pam Peters, Macquarie University
Marie-Eve Ritz, University of Western Australia
Adam Schembri, La Trobe University
Catherine Travis, Australian National University
James Walker, York University, Canada


Burridge, Kate & Margaret Florey. 2002. ‘Yeah-no he’s a good kid’: A discourse analysis of yeah-no in Australian English. Australian Journal of Linguistics 22(2): 149–171.

Collins, Peter. 2009. The Progressive. In Pam Peters, Peter Collins & Adam Smith (eds.), Comparative studies in Australia and New Zealand English: Grammar and beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 115–123.

Collins, Peter & Pam Peters. 2004. Australian English: Morphology and syntax. In Bernd Kortmann, Edgar Schneider & Kate Burridge (eds.), Varieties of English: The Pacific and Australasia. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 341–361.

Cox, Felicity. 1997. An acoustic phonetic study of broad, general, and cultivated Australian English vowels. Australian Journal of Linguistics 17(2): 155–184.

Docherty, Gerard, Paul Foulkes, James Milroy, Lesley Milroy & David Walshaw. 1997. Descriptive adequacy in phonology: A variationist perspective. Journal of Linguistics 33: 275–310.

Engel, Dulcie & Marie-Eve Ritz. 2000. The use of the Present Perfect in Australian English. Australian Journal of Linguistics 20: 119–140.

Hovarth, Barbara. 1985. Variation in Australian English: The sociolects of Sydney. London: Cambridge University Press.

Kaldor, Susan & Ian Malcolm. 1991. Aboriginal English – An overview. In Suzanne Romaine (ed.), Language in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 67–83.

Kiesling, Scott. 2005. Variation, stance and style: Word-final -er, high rising tone, and ethnicity in Australian English. English World-Wide 26(1): 1–42.

Loakes, Deborah, John Hajek & Janet Fletcher. 2010. (Mis)perceiving /el/~/æl/ in Melbourne English: A micro-analysis of sound perception and change. In Marija Tabain, Janet Fletcher, David Grayden, John Hajek & Andy Butcher (eds.), Proceedings of the 13th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology. Melbourne: ASSTA. 179–182.

Meyerhoff, Miriam & Erik Schleef. in press. Variation, contact and social indexicality in the acquisition of (ing) by teenage migrants. Journal of Sociolinguistics 16(3).

Mulder, Jean  & Sandra A. Thompson. 2008. The grammaticization of but as a final particle in English conversation. In Ritva Laury (ed.), Crosslinguistic studies of clause combining: The multifunctionality of conjunctions. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 179–204.

Peters, Pam. 2009. Irregular verbs: Regularization and ongoing variability. In Pam Peters, Peter Collins & Adam Smith (eds.), Comparative studies in Australian and New Zealand English: Grammar and beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 13–29.

Rodríguez Louro, Celeste. forthcoming. Quotatives Down Under: Be like in cross-generational Australian English speech. English World-Wide.

Schneider, Edgar, Kate Burridge, Bernd Kortmann, Rajend Mesthrie & Clive Upton (Eds.) 2004. A handbook of varieties of English: A multimedia reference tool, vol. 1: Phonology, vol. 2: Morphology and syntax & CD-ROM. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Torres Cacoullos, Rena & Catherine Travis. 2010. Variable yo expression in New Mexico: English influence? In S. Rivera-Mills & D. Villa (eds.), Spanish of the Southwest: A Language in Transition. Madrid: Iberoamericana/Vervuert. 185–206.