Trade guild merchants were an important social group in medieval society, and their detailed records provide a window into the language practices of this multilingual middle class. This presentation will discuss findings from my PhD thesis, examining the French influence on Middle English within the domain of possession. As scholars have noted cross-linguistically, possession represents a domain of grammar that is particularly affected by language contact (Aikhenvald, 2012; McConvell, 2005). This project examines the influence of Anglo Norman on Middle English possessive constructions between 1300 to 1500. Using Trade Guild records as a data source, I have identified language contact trends, including evidence of code-switching, grammatical replication, and replacement of “zero-marked” genitives, in the development of possessive constructions in Middle English. Through these findings, I propose that the development of the English double-marked genitive resulted from contact with Norman French.

About the speaker

Dr Charlotte Chambers' research interest is in language contact in the history of English, inspired by her postgraduate studies at ANU in historical linguistics and language contact. Returning to UQ following her BA(Hons) in French, Charlotte completed her PhD through the School of Languages and Cultures last year. Her PhD focused on the influence of Norman French on Middle English possessive constructions and incorporated insights from language contact research in Australian languages. She is currently working at the School of Languages as a member of the casual academic teaching staff.

About Linguistics Seminar Series

The Linguistics Seminars are an opportunity to hear from guest speakers, UQ staff and HDR students working on topics of interest in Linguistics, Language Revitalisation and Applied Linguistics. If you would like to present in our series, please contact Linguistics Cluster Co-ordinator, Samantha Disbray.

Seminars are generally held fortnightly during semester on Friday afternoons, and are free to attend. UQ staff and students, staff and students from other universities, and members of the general public are welcome to attend. If you would like to receive invitations to our Linguistics Seminar Series, please complete this form.


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