I am in the second year of a Linguistics PhD funded by the AHRC. My PhD investigates relative constructions in Réunionnais, a French-lexified creole language. I use the term "creole" here in a socio-historical sense, to designate a language which has developed in the context of European colonization, beginning around the 17th century (De Graff, 2003). In the case of La Réunion, French colonisers settled on the island in 1665 (Bollée 2013), bringing slaves from Madagascar and East Africa, and later, indentured workers from India and China. Over subsequent generations, the Réunionnais language developed into its current form through the interaction of these groups of speakers. Today, it is the native language of the majority of the island, spoken alongside French.
My interest in this language was sparked by a 5-month residence abroad period on Réunion in 2017, as part of my undergraduate degree in French. Since returning, I have undertaken research into the sociolinguistic status of the language and on its relativising strategies. My PhD expands on the latter research, investigating relative constructions (including free relatives and clefts) within the framework of Role and Reference Grammar (Van Valin & LaPolla 1997; Van Valin 2005 and subsequent works). On the one hand, I hope to improve our understanding of relative constructions and investigate how and whether they change across a complex bilingual language continuum (Réunionnais-French). On the other hand, I hope to contribute to documenting the Réunionnais language and enhancing its status.
Alongside my PhD project, I am a TA on a first-year semantics module, Study of Meaning. I am also a Widening Participation Fellow for the Faculty of Humanities. In this role, I develop and deliver workshops which are designed to enthuse students about the discipline of Linguistics. Workshops are delivered in schools in disadvantaged areas, with the aim of encouraging and inspiring their students to consider higher education.
Bollée, Annegret. 2013. Reunion Creole. In: Michaelis, Susanne Maria & Maurer, Philippe & Haspelmath, Martin & Huber, Magnus (eds.) Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (Available online here)
DeGraff, Michel. 2003. Against Creole Exceptionalism. Language 79:391–410.
Van Valin Jr., Robert D. 2005. Exploring the Syntax-Semantics Interface. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Van Valin Jr., Robert D. & Randy J. LaPolla. 1997. Syntax: Structure, meaning and function. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.