DFG Logo
© DFG
View from Roseau, Dominica
View from Roseau, Dominica
© Dagmar Deuber
Claxton Bay, Trinidad
Claxton Bay, Trinidad
© Philipp Meer
Grand Anse, Grenada
Grand Anse, Grenada
© Eva Hänsel

TRANSLOCALITY IN THE ANGLOPHONE CARIBBEAN: REGIONAL, GLOBAL AND TRANSNATIONAL ASPECTS IN STANDARDS OF ENGLISH

The present project, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), investigates standards of English in the anglophone Caribbean. To the extent that these have been considered at all in English linguistics, research has concentrated on the national level, which corresponds to the focus of research on standard varieties of English in general. However, in view of growing connections beyond the national level this approach is too limited, especially when dealing with relatively small states as are characteristic of the anglophone Caribbean. The present project does take the national level as a basis, also including small states that previous research on standard varieties of English in the Caribbean has completely ignored, but at the same time it investigates regional and global tendencies as well as the influence on standard language use of speakers and writers with transnational biographies. Thus it takes into account different scales of space, utilising the concept of translocality, which has so far been given little consideration in linguistics. The empirical research deals with written as well as spoken English and covers media (newspapers, news broadcasts) and education (specifically secondary education). In these domains both language use and language attitudes are analysed, using a combination of corpuslinguistic and sociolinguistic methods.

Eva Hänsel
Field research in Grenada: Eva Hänsel
© Eva Hänsel
Philipp Meer
Field research in Trinidad: Philipp Meer
© Philipp Meer

TWO CONTEXTS UNDER INVESTIGATION


Education

With regard to the domain of education, the project is engaged with an analysis of the usage of and attitudes towards spoken English in secondary (and tertiary) educational institutions in three anglophone Caribbean islands, namely in the two relatively smaller states of Grenada and Dominica as well as in Trinidad, one of the larger islands in the anglophone Caribbean. The project aims at describing the accents of students and teachers and at investigating their language attitudes towards national, Caribbean and global accent varieties of English in each territory under investigation. Accent variation is examined on the basis of classroom recordings, reading passages and word lists while interviews and accents rating studies provide the data for a study of the informants’ language attitudes. The data collected in Grenada and Trinidad provides the basis for the PhD theses of Eva Hänsel [http://www.uni-muenster.de/Anglistik/Staff/Haensel.shtml] and Philipp Meer [http://www.uni-muenster.de/Anglistik/Staff/Meer.shtml], respectively.

News

Usage and attitudes are also at the focus of the analyses of both written and spoken data from the news media context. Newspaper corpora of 180,000 words each were compiled for all anglophone Caribbean island countries. The corpora for Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago were compiled at our chair. The list is completed by parallel corpora for the Bahamas and Barbados that were built at the Chair of English Linguistics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Prof. Dr. Stephanie Hackert). The corpora are analysed, inter alia, for British vs. American spellings and lexical items, relative that vs. which and the be-passive. For comparison, parallel searches are conducted in the newspaper sections of Lancaster University’s American English 2006 and British English 2006 corpora, and in parallel corpora of Indian and Nigerian newspaper language that were compiled for this purpose. Spoken news language is approached by means of an accent recognition study and an auditory analysis of the accents of newscasters in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Complementary interviews with these newscasters shed light on news producers’ attitudes concerning different English accents. Listeners’ attitudes towards different newscaster accents are studied by means of verbal guise surveys that were conducted in Trinidad & Tobago (Deuber & Leung 2013), Jamaica (Westphal 2015) and Grenada (work in progress).

Map Of The Anglophone Caribbean
Map of the anglophone Caribbean (taken from: Deuber, D. (2014). English in the Caribbean: Variation, Style and Standards in Jamaica and Trinidad. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.; reproduced with permission of Cambridge University Press)
© Cambridge University Press

PUBLICATIONS RELATED TO THIS PROJECT

  • Deuber, D., & Leung, G.-A. (2013). Investigating attitudes towards an emerging standard of English: Evaluations of newscasters’ accents in Trinidad. Multilingua, 32(3), 289-319. doi:10.1515/multi-2013-0014
  • Westphal, M. (2015). Attitudes toward accents of Standard English in Jamaican radio newscasting. Journal of English Linguistics, 43(4), 311-333. doi:10.1177/0075424215607327