Visiting Scholar from the University of Helsinki to give lectures in the School

Dr Elizabeth Peterson from the University of Helsinki will be visiting the School from Tuesday 24th to Thursday 26th February. In addition to giving a talk for the Linguistics Circle (see she will be teaching the following classes, to which all are welcome. The classes will be held in the Duncan Tanner Resource Room, 39 College Road.

Tuesday 24th Feb, 2-4pm

The language profile of Finland

Finland is a country which is officially bilingual, although the two official languages differ greatly with regard to the total number of speakers. Of a population of about 5.4 million people, some 90 percent of the population speak Finnish, 5.4 percent speak Finland Swedish, with the remainder of the population speaking foreign languages.  Although Finland Swedish is spoken by a small percentage of the overall population, it is often regarded as one of the best-protected and preserved minority languages in Europe. In this presentation, I discuss the social and political history of Finnish and Swedish, the growth of Finnish into a national language, and the tensions between Finland Swedish as a national language vs English as a widely-used foreign language. Examples are drawn both from existing literature as well as from personal experience and first-hand observations.

Wednesday 25th Feb, 10am-12noon (Part 1) & Thursday 26th Feb, 1-3pm (Part 2)

Ethnic and social varieties in the United States (2 Parts)

With these presentations, an overview is offered of some of the ethnic and social varieties of the United States. Two main geographical regions and their respective ethnic and social varieties are discussed. The first presentation focuses on the Southern United States and the development of African American English. The second presentation focuses on the American West, giving an overview of an area that is often viewed as relatively monolithic; however, the American West is home to numerous ethnic and social dialects, such as varieties of American Indian English, Chicano English, as well as “Surfer Dude” and “Valley Girl.” These latter varieties, which are easily trivialized, are nonetheless commonly attributed as being the locus of a series of several widespread features, including quotative be like and intensifier so.  Key to these topics are issues such as identity, origins, distinctive linguistic features and discourse styles. In addition, the relationship of features from these varieties with the global flow of English is considered.

Publication date: 23 February 2015