Brandt, Kathrin (2020). A Question of Language Vitality? On Interrogatives in an Endangered Creole. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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This dissertation investigates the endangered French-lexifier Creole language of Louisiana, Louisiana Creole (LC). The empirical study contains a sociolinguistic and a structural component. The sociolinguistic part reveals a decline of language proficiency across the generations, a lack of intergenerational language transmission, language attrition on the individual level, and the reduction of the functional domains in which LC is used. It is shown that use of LC is restricted to private casual domains and specific interlocutors. The linguistic focus in this study is on wh-questions as a cross-linguistically well-researched and deeply structural area. Here, a number of recent changes, which are related to the endangerment of LC, and newly documented structures are found. First, the loss of forms and structures that is typically associated with language endangerment is observable in the reduction of complex interrogative pronouns and the loss of the grammatical distinctions between subject and object forms. Second, a large amount of free variation persists in the interrogative system with regard to wh-expressions, where new lexemes appear and existing items occur in new functions, and even concerning structures. In particular, speakers show varying degrees of acceptance for structures that are not traditionally grammatical in LC, such as wh-scope marking, wh in-situ, and island violations. This structural variation is independent of socio-demographic variables and functional factors only play a minor role. The most relevant variation is present between individual speakers, indicating considerable, unsystematic differences between I-grammars as are characteristic of endangered languages. They represent structural effects of language endangerment on a deep syntactic level that is generally thought to be very resistant to language change. Third, a previously undocumented type of long-distance question appears which is analyzed as a wh-copying construction in support of the copy-theory of movement.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Brandt, Kathrink.brandt@uni-koeln.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-107028
Date: 2020
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 5: Moderne Sprachen und Kulturen > Englisches Seminar I
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Other languages
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Creole languagesUNSPECIFIED
Language endangermentUNSPECIFIED
Language contactUNSPECIFIED
Minimalist ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Date of oral exam: 7 November 2019
NameAcademic Title
Adone, DanyProf. Dr.
Baptista, MarlyseProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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