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date: 09 July 2020

(p. 899) Glossary

(p. 899) Glossary

A larger glossary is available on the associated website (

  • Acrolect:

    In creolist studies, the acrolect is considered the standard among the varieties on the creole continuum. In the context of high-contact L1 varieties in World Englishes, the term applies to regional standard L1.

  • Annotation:

    The markup added to a machine-readable text to convey information on textual, grammatical, or other features.

  • Apparent time:

    The methodological approach of inferring that language change is in progress from linguistic differences between older and younger speakers.

  • Basilect:

    In creolist studies, the basilect is considered the most divergent from the superstrate among the varieties on the creole continuum. In the context of high-contact L1 varieties in World Englishes, the term applies to nonstandard L1 varieties.

  • Boxplot:

    A plot that depicts variance in some dependent variable across observations. Boxes depict the interquartile range comprising the middle 50 percent of observations, with the thick line in the boxes indicating the median. The whiskers above and below the boxes extend to observations that score no more than 1.5 times the interquartile range.

  • Branch lengths:

    Branches in phylogenetic trees constructed from character states (values of some feature) by methods that infer ancestral states (reconstructed values). Lengths are proportional to the amount of change. If the rate of change is constant, the lengths can be translated into time depths.

  • Cartulary:

    A manuscript book into which an institution, usually a religious community, copied its charters as a record of its landholdings.

  • Chain shift:

    An ordered set of sound changes wherein, as one phoneme shifts, another moves toward the phonetic position the first is vacating.

  • Chancery English:

    The language used in documents issued by the central royal administration from c.1415, mostly in English, with a fairly uniform usage and high prestige. Sometimes considered one of the major contributors to the new written standard evolving in the LME/EModE period.

  • Charter:

    A legal document, for example, describing and confirming grants, contracts, conveyance of property.

  • Cleft:

    Biclausal focusing construction. An it-cleft includes a non-referring it, a copula clause, and a relative clause. It typically focuses an NP (It's John who left). By contrast, a pseudo-cleft typically focuses a clause (What John did was leave).

  • (p. 900) Code-switching:

    The use of two or more languages by one speaker, either within or across sentences.

  • Codex (plural codices):

    An ancient book in manuscript.

  • Codicology:

    The study of manuscripts including their physical structure.

  • Codification:

    Part of the standardization process, it involves the laying down of rules for the language in grammars and dictionaries.

  • Collocate:

    A word that occurs near another word in a corpus. Collocates often provide useful insight into the meaning and usage of the node word (the word being focused on), for example, some frequent collocates of the node verb break are law, record, heart, news, rules, or silence.

  • Colloquialization:

    A linguistic trend in which features of the spoken language are incorporated in written language, for example, frequent use of the progressive, contractions, preposition stranding, and zero relativizers.

  • Collostructional analysis:

    A method to investigate which lexical items are strongly attracted or repelled (i.e. occur more frequently or less frequently than expected) by a particular slot in a construction (q.v.).

  • Common ground:

    Conversants’ mutual beliefs, suppositions, and knowledge, based on both community membership and linguistic or physical co-presence.

  • Complexity:

    A measure of the number of nodes or features in some linguistic domain, for example, “heaviness” based on the syntactic structure of the constituent.

  • Confidence interval:

    A statistically estimated range of values within which the “true value” for a population can be assumed to fall with a certain level of confidence, for example, a 95 percent confidence interval indicates, with a 95 percent certainty, that the true value falls between the upper and lower bounds of the interval (also known as “error bars”).

  • Construction:

    In construction grammar, any conventionalized pairing of form and meaning.

  • Conversion:

    The process by which a member of one linguistic category is endowed with the characteristics of a different category, for example, adverb down used as a verb.

  • Corpus (plural corpora):

    A collection of texts or recordings sampled to be representative of a particular language or language variety; now usually understood as machine-readable.

  • Creole:

    A conventionalized contact language arising as a result of natural L2 acquisition in plantation and similar settings that involve more or less restricted access to native varieties of the target language. Later generations acquire the contact variety as an L1.

  • Curial style:

    An elaborate fifteenth-century prose style (characterized, for example, by Latinate constructions, lexical doublets and triplets), typical of administrative writing, but also found in works by Chaucer and Caxton.

  • Degrammaticalization:

    Change involving gradual processes that are the opposite of processes of reduction in grammaticalization, for example, deinflectionalization (cliticization of genitive inflection -s).

  • Democratization, discursive:

    Discourse-pragmatic process involving the informalization and colloquialization of language, intended to avoid unequal and face-threatening (p. 901) communication. Examples include the elimination of sexist features of language (e.g. generic he) and those reflecting social distinctions (e.g. titles).

  • Diploma:

    A legal document in Latin recording a grant by the king.

  • Double Base Hypothesis:

    A model within generative diachronic syntax explaining syntactic variation as a result of competition between two different grammars in the language capacity of a single speaker.

  • Endonormativity:

    The reliance on internal or local community norms of usage for shared language conventions in a speech community (see also Exonormativity).

  • Epigraphy:

    Writing in inscriptional form, often on materials such as stone and metal, using techniques such as scratching, carving, or punching letters, rather than employing ink as in manuscript writing.

  • Exegesis:

    The interpretation of a text, often the Bible, according to its literal, moral, or allegorical meaning.

  • Exonormativity:

    The reliance on norms of usage external to the community for shared language conventions in a speech community (see also Endonormativity).

  • Exordium:

    The introduction to a (classical or medieval) text, which is not separate but an integrated part of the main text, serving diverse functions similar to those of a prologue, a preface, or a dedication.

  • Expanding Circle Englishes:

    Foreign language or lingua franca varieties of English spoken in regions in which English has played no substantial official, historical, or institutional role.

  • Face:

    A person's standing in society, which can be enhanced or threatened as a result of interaction with other people, consisting of a positive face (a speaker's wish to remain free from impositions by others) and a negative face (a speaker's wish to be appreciated and liked by others).

  • Focus (plural foci):

    That part of the utterance that has been selected out of a set of alternatives to complete an open proposition and is presented as new to the discourse (e.g. Max in Who left? Max left).

  • Formula:

    Two or more words that demonstrate a strong tendency to co-occur and whose combined semantic, syntactic, or pragmatic effect surpasses the component parts.

  • Formulaicity:

    The degree to which linguistic expressions are (more or less) fixed, recurrent, and recognizable (see formula).

  • Frame setters:

    Usually adverbials of time or place that indicate the domain in which the event or proposition applies. Their use tends to evoke alternative domains, which is why the effect is often contrastive (Outdoors, it was very cold, implying Indoors, it was stiflingly hot).

  • Futhark:

    The runic alphabet.

  • Genre:

    A category of speech or writing that is identifiable in terms of external criteria such as intended audience, purpose, and activity type; it refers to conventional, culturally recognized groupings such as narrative, letter, or joke (compare text type).

  • Given/new distinction:

    A level of information structure that reflects whether a referring expression has a coreferential antecedent in the previous context (given) or introduces a novel discourse participant (new).

  • (p. 902) Globalization:

    Concerns connections and relationships that go beyond the local environment. Discussions of globalization are usually theoretical, political, ideological, or linguistic in thrust. The spread of English beyond the shores of England is usually seen as part of globalization, possibly resulting in a kind of “global English” or “World English”.

  • Grammaticalization:

    Morphosyntactic change that is usually thought of as the development of grammatical/abstract expressions out of lexical/concrete ones (e.g. the development of auxiliary can from the OE lexical verb cunnan ‘to know’). Also the syntacticization of information structure.

  • Grammatical weight:

    An incremental measure of the “heaviness” of a constituent, defined in terms such as number of maximal nodes, words, syllables, graphemes.

  • Great Vowel Shift:

    A chain shift in the long vowels that is taken to demarcate the boundary between Middle and Early Modern English; it involved diphthongization of the high long vowels and raising of the nonhigh ones.

  • Homily:

    Ecclesiastical preaching about the Bible text read in mass or general moral topics.

  • Indigenization:

    The process by which a second language variety of the sociopolitically dominant language of a more powerful (usually colonizing) group arises in a colonial setting and is influenced by indigenous languages.

  • Information structure:

    The organization of clausal elements based on their discourse status (e.g. given/new, q.v.).

  • Inland North:

    The dialect region in the United States where the Northern Cities Shift (q.v.) is taking place; it includes central and western New York, northern Ohio, southern Michigan, northern Illinois, and eastern Wisconsin.

  • Inner Circle Englishes:

    Native varieties of English spoken in the British Isles and other regions settled by English speakers.

  • Koinéization:

    The process by which a new variety or dialect develops through contact between closely related, mutually intelligible varieties of a language.

  • Language shift:

    A process in which a language community gives up their ancestral language and fully adopts a new, typically colonial and more powerful, language.

  • Language transfer:

    The application of structures or processes from a native language to a second language.

  • Levenshtein distance:

    A measure of the difference between two strings of symbols. Defined as the number of substitutions, deletions, and insertions needed to turn one string of symbols into another (also known as the “edit distance”).

  • Lexicalization:

    The development of lexical items out of syntactic phrases, for example, PDE daisy from OE dæges e(a)ge, lit. ‘day's eye’.

  • Lexicography:

    The activity or practice of writing a dictionary or thesaurus.

  • Lingua franca:

    A term deriving ultimately from a pidgin used in the Mediterranean area in the late Middle Ages and referring to any language that serves as a means of communication among speakers who do not know each other's languages (e.g. Latin in the past or English today).

  • Literacy:

    (1) a cultural state in which written texts are produced and in which considerable recourse is taken to texts; (2) an individual capacity to produce and consume language in writing.

  • (p. 903) Macaronic text:

    A work that purposefully and sometimes artfully includes expressions in more than one language.

  • Macro level studies:

    A subset of linguistics that identifies trends by methodically analyzing large amounts of data (e.g. in structured electronic corpora).

  • Markedness:

    Pairs or hierarchies of phonetic, semantic, or grammatical features in language in which one element has a more unmarked (i.e. broad, default, or common) distribution and the other(s) a more marked (restricted) status.

  • Mesolect:

    The variety that arises from varying degrees of mixture and convergence between acrolect and basilect in a creole continuum situation.

  • Metadata:

    Information on textual features such as the period or the region from which a text originates, or the speaker's/writer's social background.

  • Micro level studies:

    A subset of linguistics that entails the contextualized and detailed study of data.

  • Mischsprache:

    A German term meaning ‘mixed language’ that is used to describe interlanguages formed by contact between two or more languages.

  • Nativization, structural:

    The development of new linguistic features, patterns, and preferences in New Englishes at all linguistic levels. It is at the heart of the emergence of a new variety of English.

  • NeighborNet:

    A method for constructing phylogenetic networks that takes distances (rather than discrete characters) as input. It allows for conflicting relationships between taxa to be represented graphically as boxes in a network, enabling visual inspection of how “tree-like” the relationship among a set of taxa is.

  • Network:

    An interconnected web of individuals (nodes) and the ties between them. In sociolinguistic research, weak ties in the network have been considered important for the spread of linguistic innovations, while strong ties maintain the group norm and prevent innovations from spreading.

  • New Englishes:

    Varieties of English, often spoken in a postcolonial context, that still bear the status of a second language for many speakers and that have developed stable traits of indigenization.

  • Normalization:

    A methodology used to compare the frequency in two (sub-)corpora of different sizes. Often expressed in tokens per thousand or per million words. For example, if there are 350 tokens in 100 million words of text and 1,400 tokens in 400 million words of text, they have the same normalized frequency: 3.5 tokens per million words.

  • Northern Cities Shift:

    A chain shift in the lax vowels taking place in the Inland North region of the United States (q.v.). It involves the raising of the “trap” vowel, fronting of the “lot” vowel, backing and lowering of the “dress” vowel, and other shifts.

  • Northumberland burr:

    The presence of uvular fricative [] both pre- and post-vocalically associated particularly with rural and conservative North Eastern dialects.

  • Onomasticon:

    A lexicon of proper (especially personal) names.

  • Onomastics:

    The study of the etymology and use of proper names.

  • (p. 904) Orality:

    (1) a cultural state in which no other linguistic medium than the voice is available; (2) a type of linguistic organization typical of spoken language.

  • Outer Circle Englishes:

    Second language varieties of English spoken in regions that are either former British colonies or in which English has played an official, historical, or institutional role.

  • Paleography:

    The study of script.

  • Pidgin:

    In language contact situations, a structurally reduced intermediate language that is nobody's native language, for use in contact between speakers who share no other language.

  • Pull chain:

    A chain shift that is initiated by one phoneme moving into an unoccupied space, opening up a space that speakers then fill with another phoneme (also known as “drag chain”).

  • Push chain:

    A chain shift that is initiated by one phoneme moving into the space occupied by another phoneme, leading speakers to shift the latter segment to move out of the way in order to maintain its distinctness.

  • Reflex:

    A later development of a linguistic feature from an earlier stage in a language (e.g. [iː] is a Modern English reflex of OE /æː/ in words such as steal 〈 OE stǣlan).

  • Register:

    Patterns of communication used in particular settings and for specific purposes, for example, law or religion.

  • Register shift:

    The transfer of register-specific elements from one register to another. In many postcolonial varieties elements of more formal (written) registers are transferred to less formal (spoken) registers.

  • Relexification Hypothesis:

    The view that creole grammar arises through processes in which the lexical entries (lemmas) of substrate items are assigned to superstrate lexemes (also known as “relabeling”).

  • Residualism:

    An archaic or conservative linguistic feature preserved in a contemporary variety.

  • Rhetoric:

    In Ancient Greece the “art of persuasion”, including the specific use of commonplaces such as proverbs; originally for speeches in law courts, but also extended to public speech in general; in the Middle Ages part of the (Latin) training in (advanced) literacy.

  • Speech act theory:

    The concept that in making an utterance, speakers and writers simultaneously perform an “illocutionary act”. One specific way of performing an illocutionary act is by way of an “explicit performative”, which typically has the form of first-person pronoun + speech act verb (q.v.) denoting the act that is performed in present indicative active (e.g. I promise you).

  • Speech act verb:

    A verb that describes, broadly, what kind of purpose the speaker has in a given utterance (e.g. whether he/she wants someone to do/know/say something etc.), for example, request, apologize, promise, sentence, vow, and bet.

  • Stratification:

    A concept associated with the set of ideals or principles regarded as important by the society or some social group within it. Stratification can be built on various factors, for example, wealth, gender, political status, religion.

  • (p. 905) Substrate:

    A language, usually the L1 of its speakers, which exerts structural and lexical influence on a creole or L2 variety.

  • Superstrate:

    The sociopolitically dominant language of a colonizing group, which is the target of learning for creators of creoles and “indigenized” varieties.

  • Text Encoding:

    A system of annotation, tagging or markup that adds information to a text in a systematic way. The Text Encoding Initiative is a consortium that collectively develops and maintains a standard for the representation of texts in digital form.

  • Text type:

    A categorization of texts based on text-internal linguistic criteria, such as the typical co-occurrence of features in a narrative or letter (compare genre).

  • Theme-rheme-structure:

    Linearization of the constituents of a sentence whereby the constituent representing the referent that the sentence is about is initial (theme), followed by the rest of the sentence that adds information to this referent (rheme).

  • Topic:

    A category of information structure that specifies an entity or a set of entities as given or accessible information.

  • Topicalization:

    In general, fronting of a nonsubject constituent, usually to give it contrastive focus, e.g. Beans I like (implies not other members of a set of legumes or other relevant options).

  • Toponymy:

    The regional or place names of a country, or the study of them.

  • Transfer, language:

    The establishment of features—through contact and/or shift—from language A in language B where these features represent an innovation.

  • Unsubcategorized object:

    A direct object that is not selected by a verb but may occur with the verb in a specific construction, for example, his shoes is not a possible object of the verb run independently of the resultative construction She ran her shoes threadbare.

  • Variability-based Neighbor Clustering:

    A hierarchical clustering algorithm that can be used for the periodization of diachronic corpus data into non-equidistant periods. A data-driven alternative to the practice of dividing diachronic corpora into even-sized intervals such as centuries.

  • Variant:

    In sociolinguistics linguistic differences are often expressed as variants of a variable. For example, the pronunciation of the 〈h〉 spelling in house can be either dropped or articulated as [h]; both are therefore variants of the same variable.

  • Verb second (V2):

    In OE the finite verb follows a constituent such as an adverb, for example, Ne sceal he naht unaliefedes don ‘Not shall he nothing unlawful do (He shall not do anything unlawful)’. Usually demarcates a focus from a non-focus domain, or given from old information.

  • X-SAMPA:

    Extended Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet. A full mapping of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) into 7-bit ASCII.