Michael Percillier



My research projects are presented below, from most recent to oldest.

Table of contents

In prep.: Tracing the Emergence of World Englishes: A Real-Time Empirical Investigation of Colonial English in British Malaya

In this planned project, I will apply a real-time approach and test the claims made by current models of World Englishes with regard to the development of colonial and postcolonial varieties using historical data, thus improving on the state of the art where the rule has been to rely on modern synchronic data. The current models of World Englishes include a diachronic dimension to account for the existence of distinct structural features and their variation, but are mainly limited to a language-external perspective in this regard. When language-internal developments are addressed, an apparent-time approach is generally resorted to.

As the project will investigate a historical language contact situation that led to the emergence of postcolonial varieties of English by using empirical corpus methods, it is situated at the interface of the research fields of (1) World Englishes, (2) language contact and diachronic change, and (3) corpus linguistics. More specifically, by accessing and analyzing linguistic data from British Malaya during the colonial period, this project will make considerable contributions to the state of the art with respect to

  • Theory:
    • the modelling of the development of colonial and postcolonial varieties of English;
    • the question of internal differentiation within postcolonial varieties of English;
    • the emergence of distinctive features in postcolonial varieties of English and their status as retentions or innovations;
  • Methodology:
    • the availability of data for earlier stages of varieties of English;
    • data-driven approaches to diatopically and diachronically varied data.

2015–2021: Borrowing of Argument Structure in Contact Situations (BASICS)

Together with the principal investigators Prof. Dr. Carola Trips (University of Mannheim) and Prof. Dr. Achim Stein (University of Stuttgart) as well as the other postdoctoral researcher Dr. Yela Schauwecker (University of Stuttgart), I investigated grammatical change in the medieval language contact situation between English and French following the Norman Conquest (1066–1500).

The project was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). My research output from the project constituted my cumulative Habilitation thesis entitled Contact-induced structural change in Middle English: an integrative approach to developing resources and modelling language contact. The tools and resources I developed for the lemmatisation of Middle English verbs within the project are available on the platform BASICS Toolkit. More information on the project is available on the project website.

Research output
  • Percillier, Michael & Yela Schauwecker. 2024. Cognitive mechanisms driving (contact-induced) language change: introduction to the special issue. Linguistics Vanguard (ahead of print). 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2023-0164
  • Percillier, Michael. 2022. Adapting the Dynamic Model to historical linguistics: Case studies on the Middle English and Anglo-Norman contact situation. In Bettelou Los, Chris Cummins, Lisa Gotthard, Alpo Honkapohja & Benjamin Molineaux (eds.), English Historical Linguistics: Historical English in Contact (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 359), 5–33. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.359.02per.
  • Percillier, Michael & Carola Trips. 2020. Lemmatising verbs in Middle English Corpora: The benefit of enriching the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English 2 (PPCME2), the Parsed Corpus of Middle English Poetry (PCMEP), and a Parsed Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English (PLAEME). In Proceedings of the 12th language resources and evaluation conference, 7170–7178. Marseille, France: European Language Resources Association. https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/2020.lrec-1.886.
  • Percillier, Michael. 2020. Allostructions, homostructions or a constructional family? Changes in the network of secondary predicate constructions in Middle English. In Lotte Sommerer & Elena Smirnova (eds.), Nodes and Networks in Diachronic Construction Grammar (Constructional Approaches to Language 27), 214–242. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/cal.27.06per.
  • Percillier, Michael. 2020. A variationist approach to the spread of emergent features in Middle English. Recherches Anglaises et Nord Américaines 53. 23–36.
  • Percillier, Michael. 2019. Dynamic modelling of medieval language contact: The case of Anglo-Norman and Middle English. In Roger Schöntag & Stephanie Massicot (eds.), Diachrone Migrationslinguistik: Mehrsprachigkeit in historischen Sprachkontaktsituationen (Sprache, Mehrsprachigkeit Und Sozialer Wandel 34), 79–99. Berlin: Peter Lang.
  • Percillier, Michael. 2018. A Toolkit for Lemmatising, Analysing, and Visualising Middle English Data. In Andrew U. Frank, Christine Ivanovic, Francesco Mambrini, Marco Passarotti & Caroline Sporleder (eds.), Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Corpus-Based Research in the Humanities CRH-2 (Gerastree Proceedings), vol. 1, 153–160. Vienna. https://www.oeaw.ac.at/fileadmin/subsites/academiaecorpora/PDF/CRH2.pdf.
  • Percillier, Michael. 2016. Verb Lemmatization and Semantic Verb Classes in a Middle English Corpus. In Proceedings of the 13th Conference on Natural Language Processing (KONVENS 2016), 209–214. https://www.linguistics.rub.de/konvens16/pub/26_konvensproc.pdf.

2013–2015: The representations of oral varieties of language in the literature of the English-speaking world

This project applied a corpus linguistic approach to the analysis of literary texts written in non-standardized varieties of English. Together with the principal investigator Prof. Catherine Paulin (University of Strasbourg), I compiled a corpus of literary texts from Outer Circle varieties, specifically from Southeast Asia and West Africa, while also including a corpus component featuring Scottish texts to have a comparison to the Inner Circle. Our analysis covered various aspects such as mimetic versus symbolic strategies employed to render spoken varieties in writing, the varying foci on lexical, accent, or grammatical features, the representation of sociolinguistic variables, or the accuracy in the representation of varieties.

The project was funded by the Initiative d’excellence (IDEX, French initiative of excellence).

Research output
  • Percillier, Michael. 2018. The non-standard in writing: A look at West African and Southeast Asian literature. E-rea 15(2). https://doi.org/10.4000/erea.6312.
  • Percillier, Michael & Catherine Paulin. 2017. Postcolonial Literature and World Englishes: A Corpus-Based Approach of Modes of Representation of the Non-Standard in Writing. International Journal of Literary Linguistics 6(1). 1–24. https://doi.org/10.15462/ijll.v6i1.102.
  • Percillier, Michael & Catherine Paulin. 2017. A corpus-based investigation of world Englishes in literature. World Englishes 36(1). 127–147. https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12208.
  • Percillier, Michael. 2017. Creating and Analyzing Literary Corpora. In Shalin Hai-Jew (ed.), Data Analytics in Digital Humanities, 91–118. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-54499-1_4.
  • Paulin, Catherine & Michael Percillier. 2015. Oral varieties of English in a literary corpus of West African and South East Asian prose (1954–2013): commitment to local identities and catering for foreign readers. Études de Stylistique Anglaise 9(1). 59–79. https://doi.org/10.4000/esa.797.

2008–2012: Accent unites, syntax divides? Varying degrees of nativisation of English in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia

In my doctoral dissertation project, I examined the structural similarities and differences of postcolonial varieties of English sharing a substrate language but not a colonial history.

My doctoral research at the University of Freiburg was supported by a scholarship from the Hermann Paul School of Linguistics Basel - Freiburg and a travel grant from the International Graduate Academy of the University of Freiburg to carry out linguistic fieldwork in the Riau Islands (Indonesia).

Research output
  • Percillier, Michael. 2016. World Englishes and Second Language Acquisition: Insights from Southeast Asian Englishes (Varieties of English Around the World G58). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/veaw.g58.
  • Percillier, Michael. 2016. Postcolonial and learner Englishes in Southeast Asia: implications for international communication. In Gerhard Leitner, Azirah Hashim & Hans-Georg Wolf (eds.), Communicating with Asia: The Future of English as a Global Language, 135–152. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107477186.010.