RUB » English Linguistics » Research

Our current research projects

Interactions across Englishes
Logo Interactions across English

Today, the majority of communication in English is what we call lingua franca communication. Most of our research is concerned with exactly these interactions, in which participants all have English as a second or as a foreign language At the international level, an interaction conducted in English as a lingua franca might include a Pakistani, a Japanese, and a Kenyan participant. Or, at an intranational level, for example in South Africa, it might include speakers of South African Indian English, Cape Flats English (a variety spoken by the coloured population of Cape Town), and Black South African English.

To such interactions, speakers potentially contribute with their own variety of English, e.g. Pakistani English, Kenyan English, or English as spoken by a Japanese. Thus, the interactions must be conceived of as Interactions across Englishes, following a concept which I have developed in a series of publications, culminating in Meierkord (2012). The core assumption of this concept is that the different varieties of English potentially merge in these interactions, resulting in the development of new forms of English. In this context, my research focuses on how the varieties mix and blend, as well as what the resultant forms of English used in these interactions look like at the levels of phonetics, phonology, morpho-syntax, the lexicon, and discourse.

Linguistic identities on the African continent and beyond
African Identities Logo

Related to the above, "Linguistic identities on the African continent" investigates how identity is constructed and conveyed through language(s) on the African continent and beyond and how English is appropriated to serve communities' and individuals' identity constructions.

As our logo illustrates, we conceive of Africa as a continent characterised by migration, as indicated by the 'footprints' transgressing the continent, and by transnational speech communities, as indicated by the coloured boarder-crossing areas.

At present, our research focusses on two areas: Uganda and Diasporic African and Caribbean communities in Germany.

We have also investigated South Africa in some detail and described processes of language contact and language change. In South Africa this includes a description of how the forms of English traditionally spoken by the different ethnicities in the country currently cross-influence each other.

All three contexts serve to describe current processes of language contact and language change.

We approach our various research strands from a sociolinguistic framework with a strong focus on ethnographic fieldwork, but also using corpus linguistic and sociophonetic methods.

Topics

Interactions across Englishes book cover

"… a very welcome addition to our reference shelves; it nicely complements the comprehensive descriptive four volume series Varieties of English (by Mouton de Gruyter, 2008) or the more theoretical Postcolonial Englishes (Schneider, 2007, also by Cambridge University Press); and it shows again the great progress that has been made in this sub-discipline over the past 30 years." (Josef Schmied)