The 2011 Michicagoan Graduate Student Conference in Linguistic Anthropology hosted talks by Tridha Chatterjee and Yiwen Zhou:

Tridha Chatterjee (Michigan)

Examining the Nature of Bilingual Compound verbs in Bengali English Codeswitching

Compound verb constructions are common in Indian languages, in which actions are often expressed through two verbs, occurring side by side. The first verb gives the semantic content while the second verb sometimes loses its own meaning and sometimes gives aspectual information. For example, kore dewa ‘to have done’ is a compound where kore means ‘do’ and dewa means ‘give’ (Thompson 2010). Codeswitching (CS) between some Indian languages and English has resulted in a form of bilingual compound verb, with a structure which is slightly different from the monolingual forms (Bhatia 1982, Kachru 1978). For example, educate, a verb in English when inserted into a Bengali clause, a helping verb kora ‘to do’ is added to it resulting in a compound eduate kora literally meaning ‘to do educating’. Similar constructions are found in Punjabi English CS (Romaine 1986), Tamil English CS (Annamalai 1978) and Hindi English CS (Kachru 1978). Until now this structure in Bengali-English CS has not been documented. The same kind of construction is expected to occur, because of the typological similarity of Bengali to the other Indian languages reported on. But new data on Bengali-English CS shows a construction not reported for the other languages, in which a monolingual compound and a bilingual compound combine, producing a three-verb form. In addition, compound verbs in Bengali-English CS show other features not previously attested, such as fully inflected English verbs as part of the compound. In this paper I will explain how the new data differ from features not previously reported, and show where a new analysis is necessary.

Yiwen Zhou (Michigan)
Stereotyping, Iconization and Deideologizing: Sound Change in Shanghainese

Social factors are often engaged in ideological contestation of variants on the linguistic market, resulting in language change (Labov 1994, Bourdieu 1977). Specifically, linguistic forms indexing a negatively stereotyped group of people have a low market value and will be disfavored (Silverstein 1979, 2003).

This paper presents a study on sound change in Shanghainese that involves multiple semiotic processes (Irvine and Gal 2000). In this case, a previously stigmatized form has lost its stigma and is being widely adopted. The use of hhu (instead of ngu) for the first person singular pronoun among many young speakers has been reported in scholarly works (Ding 2010) and commented a lot in online forums. The lack of an onset velar nasal was characteristic of the speech of Subei people, a group of migrants to Shanghai from northern Yangtze River. The Subei people, most of whom were manual workers in Shanghai, were stereotyped as vulgar and uncultured (Honig 1992), and their language was imitated and derided in mass media. Because of ongoing contact with Shanghainese, the linguistic differences between the descendants of the Subei people and native Shanghainese speakers gradually disappeared. However, the use of the hhu form remained in representations in the media until recently. In the past two decades, this indexicality has been fading away: hhu no longer carries the negative connotation for young speakers, and is now adopted by most native speakers under thirty.

The study demonstrates that when the indexicality of a stigmatized form shifts, it returns to the linguistic market and could be accepted as a prevailing form.