My main research interest concerns the phonological encoding of linguistic and para-linguistic information. Particularly, the question of how speakers use their language repertoire to achieve communicative goals. Currently, I am working on a project that focuses on speakers’ use of intonational patterns in natural conversation. We explore how speakers deploy their phonological knowledge to ensure smooth speaker change. In my PhD, I investigated the phonological development of bilingually raised adolescents in their L3 English. It was especially interesting to detect the coping strategies when confronted with foreign speech sounds in order to produce intelligible speech.
Sound Patterns and Linguistic Structures at the Transition Space in Conversation
Interaction is fundamental to social behavior, and turn-taking is an essential component of interaction. Human interaction is unique in that it makes use of language as a medium, most notably in everyday conversation. Turn-taking in conversation may be easily taken for granted, but it has a complex systematic organization, and people who are participating in conversations can start speaking quickly when other speakers finish—so quickly that human cognitive abilities could not achieve such speed unless people can make predictions about when and how other people’s conversational turns will end. The proposed research investigates at what times during conversation these predictions become relevant—that is, when a possible “turn-transition space” arises during a given speaker’s turn—and what kinds of linguistic information listeners use to make such predictions. In particular, we focus on prosodic variation: sound characteristics such as how loud or fast, or with what kinds of melodic patterns, words or sentences are spoken. The first portion of the project investigates prosodic variation in audio recordings of conversations, investigating different locations where transition space prediction could begin, and comparing findings in German and Swedish. The second portion tests these results in perception experiments, studying how people listening to conversations respond to different types of sound patterns, and in particular, how listeners from different languages interpret similar sound patterns. The results of the project will highlight ways in which different languages achieve similar communicative goals, and will give valuable insight into processes of human cognition for communication and interaction.
English as L2 –Phonological Cross-Linguistic Influence in Turkish-German Bilinguals
Not only do researchers continue to ask whether and when transfer will take place in interlanguage development, but they additionally ponder on the specific interplay between the L1, L2, and L3 and the potential source for cross-linguistic influence. This is especially true in the case of learners who were raised bilingually, as it is obvious that the acquisition process will be more complex when several languages come into contact. Through their greater linguistic resources, polyglots’ source language for transfer effects may differ. It has been shown in recent research that typological similarities and differences between all languages involved, even if there are only subjectively perceived, prove to be important factors for Cross-Linguistic Influence (CLI) for L3 settings. An important distinction has to be made between actual typological closeness and the closeness as it is perceived by the learner, the so-called psychotypology. Looking at psychotypology and CLI in this light it can be said that a language may serve as a source for transfer, although it might not be the most economical choice. Many studies were carried out and many theories were built as to how one or more established language system(s) interfere with the acquisition of an additional language. For the most part, they are concerned with syntax and morphology. To close the gap of knowledge about phonological CLI, the process of acquiring a further phonological system in bilinguals is the main object of investigation in this paper. The data examined here involves 66 monolingual German and 35 bilingual Turkish-German children in forms seven and nine learning English in Germany. Analyses of learners’ spoken English reveal that typology seems indeed to be influential in phonology to the extent that bilinguals display differing source languages for transfer effects according to the similarity of individual phonemes to produce target-like speech. Additionally, an interesting observation can be made, namely, that superordinate phonological systems and concrete individual phonemes behave differently when it comes to CLI. It seems to be the case that bilingual learners draw individual phonemes from one language, whereas the source for phonological systems as final devoicing or vowel harmony can shift to the other language. It will be argued that if there are no obvious and objective typological references to be made, learners fall back to a psychotypology, which is built up in large parts through metalinguistic knowledge, in this case, phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is understood as the recognition of sound structures of spoken language and is the ability to concentrate one’s attention on the formal-linguistic sound aspects of language (independent of meaning). It is to be expected that polyglots, in comparison to monolinguals, show a greater metalinguistic knowledge, having acquired more than one phonological system, which ultimately leads to a more elaborate psychotypology. Through this, there may be phonological transfer effects influencing the acquisition process, which might on the one hand not be grounded in the languages involved, but instead in the learner, and on the other hand, might not be found in children who grew up in a monolingual environment.
The DFG-funded project LARES (Language Attitudes and Repertoires in the Emirates) provides the first documentation of the sociolinguistic profiles of students living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As the sociolinguistic status quo of the UAE is largely uncharted territory, the DFG-funded project LARES investigates the usage of and attitudes towards not only Arabic (the official language of the UAE) and English (the de facto lingua franca), but also all the other languages used by the student population in the UAE. The principal investigators Prof. Dr. Peter Siemund (University of Hamburg) and PD Dr. Jakob Leimgruber (Universities of Freiburg and Basel), in close cooperation with Prof. Dr. Ahmad Al-Issa (American University of Sharjah) and research assistants from the University of Hamburg, are conducting a sociolinguistic study that – furthermore – sets out to explore the features of English as spoken in the UAE (Gulf English), a globalized conurbation populated largely by highly transient expatriates from all over the world. The research themes include language repertoires, proficiency in diverse languages, attitudes towards languages, and Educational and socioeconomic profiles. With data from the student population of the American University of Sharjah (AUS), collected in the form of comprehensive, interactive online questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, the study also provides information for language policymakers in the UAE and will expand upon the current discussions about new models of World Englishes.
MEZ (Mehrsprachigkeit im Zeitverlauf) is a longitudinal study which follows two parallel cohorts in classes 7 and 9 through to the end of classes 9 and 11 respectively. Data collection is carried out in four phases. By means of a longitudinal study with monolingual and multilingual school students in Germany, this study investigates the factors (both linguistic and non-linguistic) that positively or negatively influence multilingual development, and the effects these factors have on further dimensions of educational success (for example, on educational decisions). The initial sample will include approximately 1,800 students with German-Turkish, German-Russian, and monolingual German language backgrounds from public schools in several federal states. Data collection includes the contextual, personal, and linguistic factors that are relevant to the development of multilingualism. This includes the assessment of participants’ receptive skills (reading and listening) and productive skills (written and oral) in academic language (Bildungssprache), as well as in the heritage languages Russian and Turkish and, where applicable, in the school-taught foreign languages English, French, and Russian.