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Oliver Mayeux

Oliver Mayeux

Department: Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics

Supervisor: Professor Mari Jones

College: Peterhouse

AHRC Subject Area: Linguistics

Title of Thesis: A corpus-based study of language change in an endangered creole language (Louisiana Creole)


My doctoral research concentrates on the morphosyntactic, phonological and lexical consequences of language contact in Louisiana Creole, a highly endangered French-lexifier creole language.  I am currently conducting a diachronic variationist analysis of a corpus of language data spanning the 19th to 21st centuries. During fieldwork along the Bayou Teche (January-April 2017), I collected around 50 hours of language data from the last speakers of the language - a subset of these data form the most recent sample in my corpus.

The intention of this corpus analysis is to describe in quantitative and qualitative terms how Louisiana Creole has changed under the respective influences of its lexifier (French) and of the now-dominant non-lexifier language (English). This research aims to bring discussion of language variation and change in creole languages beyond the creolistics-specific notion of 'decreolization' in order to integrate creole languages into a wider framework of language contact. At the same time, I hope that my research can shed light on how the phenomena of language endangerment and revitalization can be situated within this framework. Finally, I hope my work can make a wider impact and can contribute to the revitalization of Louisiana Creole, which is also my heritage language: working with colleagues, friends and community organisations I have collaborated on the development of an orthography, an online dictionary and a language primer.

Before starting my doctoral research, my MPhil dissertation examined the language of new speakers of Louisiana Creole using a corpus built from web data. Before coming to Cambridge, I completed my undergraduate studies at SOAS, University of London, where I took a BA in Korean and Linguistics with Yoruba, with a year studying Korean language and culture at Korea University (고려대학교). 

I am one of the convenors of the Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group, which hosts a seminar series and postgraduate workshop for academics from within and outside the University. This year, I am co-organising the Eighth Cambridge Conference on Language Endangerment.

Other academic interests

- language endangerment and revitalization
- language variation and change
- language and identity
- language and the internet
- quantitative and computational linguistics
- Korean linguistics