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

The project, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation - DE 2324/1-1; PI: Prof. Dr. Dagmar Deuber), has investigated standards of English in the anglophone Caribbean. To the extent that these had been considered at all in English linguistics, previous research had 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 has taken the national level as a basis, also including small states that previous research on standard varieties of English in the Caribbean had completely ignored, but at the same time it has investigated regional and global tendencies as well as the influence on standard language use of speakers and writers with transnational biographies. Thus, it has taken into account different scales of space, utilising the concept of translocality, which had so far been given little consideration in linguistics. The empirical research has dealt with written as well as spoken English and has covered media (newspapers, news broadcasts) and education (specifically secondary education). In these domains both language use and language attitudes have been analysed, using a combination of corpus linguistic and sociolinguistic methods.

Claxton Bay, Trinidad
Claxton Bay, Trinidad
© Philipp Meer
Grand Anse, Grenada
Grand Anse, Grenada
© Eva Hänsel

TWO CONTEXTS UNDER INVESTIGATION

Education

With regard to the domain of education, the project has been engaged with an analysis of the usage of and attitudes towards spoken English in secondary (and tertiary) educational institutions in two anglophone Caribbean islands, namely in the relatively smaller state of Grenada as well as in Trinidad, one of the larger islands in the anglophone Caribbean. The project has described the accents of students and teachers and has investigated their language attitudes towards national, Caribbean and global accent varieties of English in each territory under investigation. Accent variation has primarily been examined on the basis of reading passages and word lists while metalinguistic interviews and accents rating studies have provided the data for a study of the informants’ language attitudes. The data collected in Grenada and Trinidad provide the basis for the PhD theses of Eva Hänsel  and Philipp Meer, respectively.

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

News

Usage and attitudes have also been 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 was 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 were analysed, inter alia, for British vs. American spellings and lexical items, relative that vs. which and the be-passive. For comparison, parallel searches were 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 was 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 have been studied by means of verbal guise surveys that were conducted in Trinidad & Tobago (Deuber and Leung, 2013), Jamaica (Westphal, 2015, 2017) 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 (in chronological order)

Hänsel, E. C. (in press). Standard language ideology revisited: The case of newscasters in St Vincent and the Grenadines. In K. Sarkowsky & M. Stein (Eds.), Ideology in postcolonial texts and contexts. Leiden: Brill.

Meer, P., & Deuber, D. (in press). Standard English in Trinidad: Multinormativity, translocality, and implications for the Dynamic Model and the EIF Model. In S. Buschfeld & A. Kautzsch (Eds.), Modelling World Englishes: A joint approach towards postcolonial and non-postcolonial varieties. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Deuber, D., & Hänsel, E. C. (2019). The English of current Caribbean newspapers: American, British, in between or neither? In V. Wiegand & M. Mahlberg (Eds.), Corpus linguistics, context and culture (pp. 43-74). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Hänsel, E. C., & Deuber, D. (2019). The interplay of the national, regional, and global in standards of English: A recognition survey of newscaster accents in the Caribbean. English World-Wide, 40(3), 241-268. https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.00031.han

Meer, P., Westphal, M., Hänsel, E. C., & Deuber, D. (2019). Trinidadian secondary school students’ attitudes toward accents of Standard English. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 34(1), 83-125. https://doi.org/10.1075/jpcl.00029.mee

Westphal, M. (2017). Language variation on Jamaican radio. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Benjamins.

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

Deuber, D. (2013). Towards endonormative standards of English in the Caribbean: A study of students' beliefs and school curricula. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 26(2), 109-127. https://doi.org/10.1080/07908318.2013.794816

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. https://doi.org/10.1515/mult-2013-0014