Please note: This seminar culminates in an international workshop at Potsdam University on 7-8 July 2016. It is required to take part in this workshop.

In this seminar, we will investigate whether different varieties of English feature different conceptual metaphors, and inhowfar these might be culturally motivated.

Two strands of research are brought together in this seminar. World Englishes studies, on the one hand, examine the varieties of English across the world, such as Aboriginal English in Australia or Indian English. Under the influence of local languages and cultures, these have developed throughout the centuries into stable indigenised Englishes. However, first-language varieties such as British or American English are still often deemed more prestigious.
On the other hand, we will deal with Conceptual Metaphor Theory that sees metaphors as cognitive phenomena through which we make sense of the world. Since such mental processes happen non-linguistically, considerable culture-induced metaphor variation can be expected across World Englishes. This linking of the paradigms of World Englishes and Cognitive Linguistics has only started to gain ground during the last years.

In order to examine metaphor variation in World Englishes, students will design, plan and conduct their own research projects. This has to be done constantly throughout the semester, since the results will be presented in a poster session during the 2nd Workshop on Metaphor Variation in Englishes around the World, which takes place on 7-8 July at Potsdam University. The workshop is an international linguistic conference in which reknowned researchers also take part. It will be a challenging, but above all exciting and rewarding task for students to become part of the scientific community by presenting own original research.

This seminar provides students with insights into empirical sociolinguistic research. Participants will design, plan, conduct, evaluate and present own research projects, through which the effects of factors such as age, gender, class or ethnicity on language are examined. For this, students have to retrieve linguistic data (e.g., with the help of interviews, experiments or corpora) that they then analyse with a focus on a distinct linguistic feature (e.g., particular phonemes, conceptual metaphors or syntactic structures). It is both possible to come up with own ideas for case study designs, or to replicate and test an existing study.

In the first block in April, participants will get a brief overview on sociolinguistic methods, for instance on how to retrieve data, and on the structure of linguistic talks and papers. Research groups will find together and make and discuss first drafts of their case study designs.

During the sessions in June we ideally deal with one variable per day. The days close with concluding discussions on the findings, e.g. on the actual influence of gender/age/class/etc. on language use.

It is crucial that students make use of timely and, where necessary, regular consultations in order to prepare and discuss the projects with me. It is also important that they constantly work on the case study independently.