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Title: Selected aspects of language contact in the case of Czech, with a particular focus on lexical borrowing and changing attitudes to the self and others
Author: Dickins, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0001 2412 5244
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2012
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The work selected for this portfolio comprises two language-specific case studies (‘Russian and Soviet loanwords and calques in the Czech lexicon since the beginning of the twentieth century’ and ‘Češi a slovenština’ [The Czechs and the Slovak language]), two publications on the critical reception of foreign vocabulary in Czech (‘The legacy and limitations of Czech purism’ and Attitudes to lexical borrowing in the Czech Republic), and a detailed article on the implications of naming practices for perceptions of the self and others (‘The Czech-speaking lands, their peoples and contact communities: titles, names and ethnonyms’). Extensive use is made of original material, including two nationwide quantitative surveys conducted on my behalf by the Public Opinion Research Centre of the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (CVVM), and two small-scale questionnaires carried out for me by Dr Miroslav Růžička of the Czech University of Life Sciences (Prague), as well as a range of other empirical data, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, electronic corpora, and additional sources of lexical and historical information. My commentary employs a thematic approach, which aims both to acquaint the reader with the main findings of each of my publications, and to indicate the broad direction of my output. Supplementary information is provided in the commentary, where required, to contextualize and synthesize my arguments, to shed light on recent scholarship in cognate fields, and to ensure narrative continuity. The ‘new’ knowledge thus complements and frames the discussion of my selected publications, thereby helping to guide the reader through the exposition of my writings. The principal unifying themes of the chosen pieces are their emphasis on (1) the role of language in the national consciousness and self-perception, (2) the influence of external forces on the shaping of the Czech lexicon, and people’s reactions to those forces, (3) public perceptions of lexical borrowing, and (4) changing attitudes to the notion of ‘foreign’, as reflected in the national idiom. The commentary is divided into eight chapters, as listed in the Table of Contents. My study begins with a general introduction to my academic background, and to the content and themes of this thesis, as summarized above. Chapter 2 is based principally on my article ‘The legacy and limitations of Czech purism’, and provides a combination of historical setting and statistical analysis. The next chapter presents a résumé of the overall impact of foreign languages and cultures on the historical development of Czech, with the aim of contextualizing the findings of subsequent chapters. Chapter 4, which draws mainly on ‘Russian and Soviet loanwords and calques in the Czech lexicon since the beginning of the twentieth century’, reevaluates the impact of Russian and ‘Soviet speak’ on the Czech lexicon. In chapter 5, I consider in detail the asymmetrical nature of Czech–Slovak language relations, with reference to the views of over 1,400 informants interviewed for ‘Češi a slovenština’ and Attitudes to lexical borrowing in the Czech Republic. Chapter 6 compares the results of my survey for the latter publication, referred to as ‘Perceptions’, with a series of other questionnaires, including Tejnor’s groundbreaking 1970 study of foreign words. ‘The Czech-speaking lands, their peoples and contact communities: titles, names and ethnonyms’ provides the substance of much of chapter 7, which focuses on the Czechs’ tendency to see themselves in terms of opposition to outsiders, and on the depiction of ‘foreignness’ in the Czech lexicon. The commentary concludes with a summary of my principal observations relating to aspects of language contact and lexical borrowing in Czech, and to their implications for the self and others. Taken collectively, the eight chapters provide a framework for the discussion of my published work and for the thematic and conceptual links that validate their consideration as a corpus of cognate research activity.
Supervisor: Hambrook, Glyn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Czech ; borrowing ; loanwords ; language ; lexis ; contact ; attitudes ; perceptions ; self ; others