Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Aldrich Student Conference 2009

Six students from Memorial's linguistics department presented a talk at the annual Aldrich Student Conference on March 22. The titles and abstracts of their talks are presented below.

070OA : 22 March 2009 - 10.00-11.15 AM - BN1009
Word-final consonant clusters in three dialects of Arabic
Ahmad Assiri
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
My research examines government and binding relationships between word-final consonant clusters in one syllable type of Arabic: CVCC. The data comes from three different dialects of Arabic: Jordanian Arabic (JA), Lebanese Arabic (LA), and Asiri Arabic (AA). These dialects differ in the way word-final consonant clusters are treated. That is, consonant clusters are either divided by an epenthetic vowel or remain undivided; specifically, epenthesis applies in JA across the board; whereas, in AA epenthesis is not tolerated. LA, on the other hand, ranges between epenthesis and lack of epenthesis.
In light of the general premises of Government Phonology, I assume sonority and place structures for Arabic consonants in attempt to characterize the relationships between word-final consonant clusters in all three dialects. An Optimality Theoretic analysis will also be used for more comprehensive account of the data.

071OA : 22 March 2009 - 10.00-11.15 AM - BN1009
A Sociophonetic Study of Interdental Variation in Jordanian Arabic
Osama Omari
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
This paper examines variation in the realization of interdental fricatives among young speakers of Jordanian Arabic (JA). Three linguistic variables will be analyzed: (), (ð), and the interdental emphatic fricative (ðʕ). Adopting a Labovian token-by-token approach, I examine the possible linguistic and social constraints on the choice of the variants by the speakers. The linguistic and social factors coded in the study are the immediate phonological environment, stress, word class, syllable and word position, frequency, sex of the informants, and urbanization. Multivariate analyses of the data show that three major factors constrain the variation: the social factors (sex and urbanization), the immediate phonological context, and the saliency of the linguistic position. The linguistic findings in this paper may challenge the lexically conditioned hypothesis on variation (Abdel-Jawad and Suleiman 1990), which relies heavily on the notion of classifying lexical items according to their etymological and phonological relevance to the standard variety (i.e., Standard Arabic).

072OA : 22 March 2009 - 10.00-11.15 AM - BN1009
Vowels and Identity: Nova Scotians living in St. John's
Matt H. Gardner
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
In this study I examine the effects of dialect contact on six Nova Scotians living in St. John’s. I test the hypothesis that those here the longest and/or those with the densest local social networks have the most centralized, or Newfoundland-like, low back vowels. While it was found that length of residency and social network density were the two most significant factors, unexpectedly, those with the strongest community ties or who had been living in Newfoundland the longest showed the least centralized low back vowel, while the participant who had been in Newfoundland the least and who had the least dense local social network produced low back vowels even more centralized that the past data predict for Newfoundland. Data from this study also shows evidence of the Canadian Shift. I also discuss the correlation between negative stereotypes (both homegrown and in St. John’s) and these participants’ identity creation through language.

Session 25 : Oral Presentation
Date : 22 March 2009
Room : BN1009
Time : 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM

073OA : 22 March 2009 - 11.30-12.45 PM - BN1009
The Role of Perceptual Salience in Child Language Acquisition: Preliminary Findings from Northern East Cree
Kevin Terry
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
Peters (1983, 1985) and Slobin (1985) claim that perceptual salience plays an important role in the initial child language acquisition processes of extraction and segmentation. These proposals are based mainly on evidence from languages, like English, which have relatively simple morphological systems. A growing number of studies test these theories against evidence from more morphologically complex languages.
In this paper, I define the processes of extraction and segmentation and identify what is meant by ‘perceptual salience’. I examine the role that perceptual salience has been found to play in the acquisition of several languages with complex morphological systems including Mohawk, Quiché Mayan, Navajo and Quechua. In light of this evidence, preliminary findings from a study of the speech of a child acquiring Northern East Cree, an Algonquian language spoken in Quebec, are also presented. These data have been made available through the Chisasibi Child Language Acquisition Study (www.mun.ca/cclas/).

074OA : 22 March 2009 - 11.30-12.45 PM - BN1009
Lexicalization of the Quotative be + like and Non-Traditional Speech Communities
Meghan Hollett and Bridget Henley
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
The TV show Grey's Anatomy is commonly associated with young, trendy females. In our study, status as a viewer or non-viewer of Grey's Anatomy was foregrounded in order to test whether this distinction is reflected in speech. Sociolinguistic interviews were conducted with 24 informants (12 male and 12 female; 12 viewers and 12 non-viewers), and analyzed for instances of quotative complementizers. This variable, which introduces quotations (eg. We were like "Oh my God"; They say "Oh, we hated it.") is appropriate for the analysis at hand because of the strong social connotations of the most frequently used variant: the quotative be + like. Previous studies have shown be + like increasing in frequency and lexicalization in Canada (Tagliamonte & D'Arcy 2004), and particularly in St. John's (D'Arcy 2004). We will discuss the advantages of the methodological framework used in this study, and present evidence to suggest further lexicalization than previously reported.

075OA : 22 March 2009 - 11.30-12.45 PM - BN1009
Icelandic Quirky Case in the Minimalist World
David Bowden
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
In English, sentences like me need money and him felt dizzy are completely ungrammatical. However, in Icelandic these sentences are perfectly acceptable. To English speakers, such phrases sound odd, and for good reason. This is because in most languages speakers must use the equivalents of I, he, she, and we for subject words and not their related oblique forms like me, him, her, and us. Icelandic exhibits a crosslinguistically rare phenomenon termed Quirky Case, or Aukafallsfrumlag in Icelandic scholarship, whereby speakers can employ oblique forms in the subject position. What is it about Icelandic that makes it acceptable for speakers to break this seemingly hard and fast rule, and how can linguists make sense of it? In this presentation, possible revisions to the previously accepted notions of how nominal case assignment and grammatical roles interact will be discussed.

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