Linguistics Guest Speaker - Natural grammar and inherent variation: some fieldwork stories

Date Wednesday 2 June 2021
Time 11am - 12pm
Where Univeristy of Waikato - Room K.G.11
Presenter Professor Miriam Meyerhoff
Contact Andreea Calude
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

Natural grammar and inherent variation: some fieldwork stories by Professor Miriam Meyerhoff (University of Oxford, UK)

Facts about the grammar of a language are generally presented in a cleaned format (variation is removed) and as if they exist like ripe plums, ready to be picked from the tree of language. Neither has been the experience of the presenter. This talk draws on over a decade’s fieldwork in the village of Hog Harbour/Vüthiev in East Santo (Vanuatu). She will talk about her methods and some of what she has learnt about the language, Nkep, and what she has learnt as a sociolinguist while working there.  This talk is intended for undergraduate students in linguistics, but anyone interested is welcome to attend.

Prof Meyerhoff’s research examines sociolinguistic constraints on variation, principally in communities characterised by language or dialect contact. She is currently engaged in a long-term project with the Nkep-speaking community in Vanuatu to document their language. Much of her work has been on Creoles – a particularly rewarding area for (socio)linguistic study.

She has published descriptive and variationist papers on features at virtually all levels of linguistic structure, but her primary interest remains syntactic and discourse factors. These features shed light on the universality of linguistic theory and have also proved important indicators of the role of language as a symbolic resource in the construction of gendered and other social identities.

Prof Meyerhoff is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NZ Te Aparangi, a Fellow of the Linguistics Society of America, Associate editor of Asia-Pacific Language Variation Journal and a partner investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.