On January 9 and 10 2012 Prof. Marianne Hundt taught the seminar "Variable article use".
Marianne Hundt has been Professor of English Linguistics at Zürich University since 2008. Prior to that she held a chair of English Linguistics at the University of Heidelberg. She obtained her MA, PhD and Habilitation at the University of Freiburg and was a visiting scholar at Portland State University, Oregon (USA) and at Victoria University, Wellington (New Zealand). In her PhD Prof Hundt dealt with New Zealand English, and her investigation led to a monograph published by John Benjamins. In her Habilitation in English Linguistics Prof Hundt investigated the English mediopassive construction, and this study was published by Rodopi. Her 2009 co-authored monograph Change in Contemporary English. A Grammatical Study, published by Cambridge University Press, is also well-known in the field. Prof Marianne Hundt has edited and co-edited a number of books with leading publishers such as Cambridge University Press, John Benjamins and Rodopi, and has published extensively in international journals on issues such as new Englishes, the English verbal paradigm, English syntax (relativisation, complexity) and language change in general.
Outline of the seminar
The definite and indefinite articles in English are amongst the most frequent words. However, the contexts where there are used (or at times omitted) are difficult to describe and there is variability across time, regional varieties, text types, etc. In this seminar, Prof Hundt started out by briefly looking at the history of articles in English and then moved on to three case studies. The first provided a focus on article use with institutional nouns like church and university in two major reference varieties, namely British and American English. The second considered diachronic change in article use with single role referents like president and captain in predicate position. The third case study took language contact into account and focus on variable article use in a variety of Indian English. The seminar provided the theoretical background necessary to study variable article use in English. Prof Hundt also looked at issues related to data retrieval and analysis, such as the definition of a variable context and variable rule analysis. Finally, the seminar provided an insight into the specific challenges involved in the analysis of spoken data.