Wednesday, November 30, 2011
More information available here.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Join us on December 1st in SN 2098 at 3:30 when Yvan Rose will speak on:
Monday, October 17, 2011
Language Death: Writing the Obituary of Languages?
Half the languages of the world will die out within the next century. This talk reviews the way languages are dying, asks why, and then asks what can be done. It presents the arguments why people should be concerned, drawing a parallel with other ecological domains. For less academic occasions, such as literary festivals, the talk includes extracts from literature, and also from David Crystal's play 'Living On', which dramatizes the endangered language situation. Time: 90 minutes.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Recent discovery of offshore oil has fundamentally changed the province of Newfoundland, Canada, from a poor cousin of the Canadian mainland to that of a ‘have’ province in terms of economy and education among others (Clarke 2010a: 132). As a consequence, the creation of new jobs and the need for developing Newfoundland’s infrastructure are accompanied by a dramatic change of the linguistic system. Investigating and contributing to knowledge of rapid linguistic changes as they occur is rare and hence important to analyze in the sociolinguistic tradition. This paper presents an investigation of a linguistic variable that has been identified as relevant to change in a North American context (particularly Canadian Shift) and for being innovative in Newfoundland English: the vowel in the DRESS lexical set.
Audio recordings from earlier research constitute the pilot study data, stratified by age, gender, and religion. The data set consists of 4 informants interviewed in Pouch Cove, NL, by members of the community. Pouch Cove has been a traditional outport community, which is currently changing towards a bedroom community of St. John’s, similarly to Petty Harbour (Van Herk, Childs & Thorburn, 2007).
As for the variable investigated, /ɛ/ is raised in areas settled by conservative speakers of southeast Irish origin such as St. John’s (Clarke 2010b). The NL instantiation of the Canadian Shift (Boberg, 2010, Clarke et al. 1995, Labov, Ash & Boberg 2006), on the other hand, results in a change in vowel quality in the opposite direction.
Results from the current study suggest a tendency for especially younger females to use a low mid /ɛ/ in the DRESS lexical set most frequently in careful speech.
Boberg, Charles (2010). The English language in Canada : status, history, and comparative analysis. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bucholtz, M., Bermuda, N., Fung, V., Edwards, L. & Vargas, R. (2007). "Hella Nor Cal or Totally So Cal?: The Preceptual Dialectology of California. Journal of English Linguistics 35(3): 325-352.
Clarke, Sandra (2010a). Newfoundland and Labrador English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Clarke, Sandra (2010b). Newfoundland and Labrador English. In Schreier, D. (Ed.), The Lesser-Known Varieties of English: An Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press. 72-91.
Clarke, Sandra, Elms, Ford & Youssef, Amani (1995). The third dialect of English: Some Canadian evidence. Language Variation and Change 7(2): 209-228.
Labov, William, Ash, Sharon & Boberg, Charles (2006). The atlas of North American English : phonetics, phonology, and sound change : a multimedia reference tool. Berlin ; New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Preston, Dennis Richard & Long, Daniel (1999). Handbook of perceptual dialectology. Amsterdam ; Philadelphia: J. Benjamins.
Van Herk, Gerard, Childs, Becky & Thorburn, Jennifer (2007). Identity Marking and Affiliation in an Urbanizing Newfoundland Community. In Cichocki, W. (Ed.), 31st Annual Meeting of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association/31e Colloque annuel de l'Association de linguistique des provinces atlantiques. Fredericton NB, Canada. 85-94.
Friday, August 19, 2011
From dialect feature to local identity marker: Converging patterns of verbal –s in two Newfoundland communities
Date: Wednesday August 24, 2011
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Location: FM-2006 (sociolinguistics lab)
Feel free to bring your lunch or snacks to share!
A Brown Bag Talk
Susanne Wagner, Chemnitz University of Technology
Gerard Van Herk, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Recent research in Pouch Cove (Wagner) and Petty Harbour (Van Herk et al.) has revealed unexpected linguistic behaviours that challenge standard sociolinguistic wisdom. In Pouch Cove, middle-aged speakers have the highest rates of use of non-standard forms, and in Petty Harbour, young speakers are reversing the linguistic constraints on choice of verb form. In both cases, these findings go against 40 years of results from communities worldwide, and in both cases, the findings have been challenged when presented at scholarly meetings.
In this paper, we reconfigure the data from both studies to permit parallel analyses. These analyses support and reinforce the earlier findings, but they also help to explain them. The two communities, thanks to their distinct social, geographic, and economic profiles, are at different points along a change continuum between traditional Newfoundland speech and an urbanized, performative variety.
Friday, August 12, 2011
TIME : 12:00-1:00 p.m.
LOCATION : FM-2006 (sociolinguistics lab)
Chemnitz University of Technology
It is a well-known fact that English allows the omission of pronominal subjects in speech,
resulting in utterances such as Ø Told you so or Ø Looks like rain. While different from pro-drop
in pro-drop languages such as Russian or Italian, studies have shown that the mechanisms
governing the “deletion” of these pronouns are very similar to the processes involved in pro-
drop (see e.g. Harvie 1998, Haegeman 1990). However, not all instances of non-overt subject
pronouns can be considered typical. Consider e.g.
A: Did you ever work in (place name)?
B: Ø Never worked in (place name).
Ø Ø Not really into scary movies, just comedy movies mostly.
Ø Had a bad stomach, she used to rub my stomach.
In this talk, I will focus on null first person subjects. The processes and peculiarities
involved in recovering over 300 “deleted” instances of I and we in relation to over 8,000 overt
pronouns will be discussed. Statistical regression analyses show that factors influencing
presence/absence of pronouns do not only include those previously discussed in literature on
pro-drop languages, but also features such as VP length which are known to have an impact on
subject realisation in first language acquisition. Moreover, the data show possible persistence
effects to be at work, with one null subject favouring another in the next subject slot.
Overall, the analyses suggest that factors from a number of disciplines,
including morphosyntax, discourse theory and sociolinguistics, as well as various theoretical
frameworks (formal and functional schools) and stages of acquisition/competence (first,
second, adult language) should be considered when discussing null subjects in English.
Feel free to bring your lunch!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Matt Hunt Gardner
University of Toronto
Slit Fricatives in Cape Breton English
Focusing on methodology, this presentation reports results from two preliminary investigations of slit fricative production/use among speakers from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The first study examines acoustic and articulatory qualities of this sound and aims to determine what qualities, if any, differentiate slit fricatives from other coronal fricatives and stops. The results are compared with similar studies in other communities in which slit fricatives have been attested. The second study examines what internal linguistic factors may constrain the use of slit fricatives among young speakers and uses new statistical methods to argue that two systems (traditional and novel) for slit fricatives use may exist within the same generation in the community.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Case-Reservation in the analysis of the Indirect Attribute adjectives.
Ahmad Assiri, Ph.D. Graduate Student
Subjects and Subject Clitics in Embedded Clauses in Jordanian Arabic
Osama Omari, Ph.D. Graduate Student
All are welcome to bring their lunch
DATE: Tuesday, May 24, 2011
TIME: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
Thursday, March 24, 2011
There are several assumptions regarding the origins of the ergative construction in New Indo-Aryan languages: (i) passive-to-ergative reanalysis, (ii) the ergative hypothesis, i.e. that the passive construction of Old Indo-Aryan was already ergative, and a compromise stance that neither (i) nor (ii) are fully adequate. Most recently attention has been paid to various pathways in which typological changes operate over different kinds of nominal constituents (nouns versus pronouns) in a 'contingency view of alignment' (Dixon 1994, Haig 2008). I will argue that the Late Middle Indo-Aryan texts offer us a unique opportunity for our analysis of the ergative reorganization of an earlier nominative-accusative system of Sanskrit and early Prakrits in the framework of Construction Grammar exploiting the notions of markedness shift, morphological economy and long-term morphosyntactic change.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Location: SN 4073
Against Mobile Morphemes
Chaha, one of the Semitic languages of Ethiopia, displays morphemes (e.g., the impersonal subject) that are sometimes expressed by labialization, palatalization or both (Polotsky 1951, Lelau 1967, Hetzron 1971, Banksira 2000). These processes affect phonemes that are located at various positions in a word. Due to this, the language has been considered to have ‘mobile morphemes’ (McCarthy 1983, Akinlabi 1996, Rose 1997, Piggott 2000). The two main characteristics of such morphemes are that i) their phonological content is less than a full segment – it is a feature or bundle of features – and ii) the position of these features is variable. In this presentation, I will argue that the so-called mobile morphemes of Chaha do not satisfy any of these conditions and that Chaha in fact does not have mobile morphemes at all.
From an empirical point of view, I will present data showing that the phonological signals of the putative mobile morphemes are not necessarily mobile nor less than a full segment – they sometimes surface as independent segments and their position is fixed. This is shown in (1a) where the impersonal suffix surfaces independently and occupies a fixed position like any other fixed suffix such as (1b).
(1) a. čənə-wi-m
(1) b. čənə-čɨ-m
I will then propose that the independent and fixed -wi of (1a) is the output of morphology even in cases where mobility is at issue. This output of morphology, namely the underlying /-wi/ is submitted to phonological rules which may give rise to mobile phonological features depending on the nature of the stem. In other words, in addition to establishing dominance relations between morphemes, morphology establishes a fixed precedence relationship between them, this relationship is asymmetric, namely if ‘a precedes b’ is true then the inverse is not. However, phonological rules may alter this asymmetry by manipulating the phonological features associated with /-wi/ without manipulating their morphosyntactic features. These rules are blind to morphosyntactic features of the impersonal subject and they can apply within morphemes. Thus, mobility is a function of phonology – not of morphology – and phonological rules alone are responsible for featural mobility.
If this claim proves correct, it will have two important consequences. First, it will provide evidence that analyzing Chaha labialization and palatalization as mobile morphemes is descriptively inadequate. Thus, gradient Optimality Theoretic constraints such as “align morphological categories to an edge” proposed by Akinlabi (1996) to compute the movement of these morphemes can be dispensed with (see Piggott 2000 for similar proposals). Second, it will solve the puzzle that the placement of a morpheme in Chaha depends on its morphosyntactic content. Notice that the phonological signals of well-known and better understood morphemes cross-linguistically have a variety of shapes: C, V, CV, CVC, CVCC, and so on, or their moraic equivalents. Yet, such morphemes are not known to be mobile. So, theories that subscribe to mobile morphemes must attribute the special behaviour of mobility only to morphemes whose phonetic expression can be (partly) featural. In such analyses the morphosyntactic contents of a morpheme (e.g. the impersonal in (1a) vs. the 3fem. sing. in (1b)) will dictate their positions. On the contrary, the claim being made here is that the placement of a morpheme is blind to its morphosyntactic content and that the mobility of phonological features has nothing to do with morphology.
Akinlabi, A. (1996). Featural affixation. Journal of Linguistics 32, 239-289.
Banksira, D. P. (2000). Sound Mutations: The Morphophonology of Chaha. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hetzron, R. (1971). Internal labialization in the tt-Group of Outer South-Ethiopic. Journal of the American Oriental Society 91, 192-207.
Leslau, W. (1967). The impersonal in Chaha. To honor Roman Jakobson. Essays on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, 1150-1162. The Hague: Mouton.
McCarthy, J.J. (1983). Consonantal morphology in the Chaha verb. The proceedings of the second West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, edited by M. Balow, D. Flickinger & M. Wescoat, 176-188. Palo Alto: Stanford Linguistics Association.
Piggott, G. (2000). Against featural alignment. Linguistics 36, 85-128.
Polotsky, J.H. (1951). Notes on Gurage grammar. Jerusalem: Israel Oriental Society.
Rose, S. (1997). Theoretical issues in comparative Ethio-Semitc phonology and morphology. Doctoral dissertation, McGill University.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
In Blackfoot (Algonquian), relative clauses consist of an optional determiner, an optional head noun, and a verbal complex, all three of which are marked with nominal number and gender agreement morphology. In this paper, I demonstrate that the verbal complexes within relative clauses are in fact verbal in nature, rather than nominalizations. I propose that the verb raises to Rel to support a dependent morpheme, and that phi-feature marking arises due to concord on the Rel head. Preliminary work suggests that it is possible to extend this proposal to other Algonquian languages to capture cross-linguistic variation within the family.
March 11 at 4pm in SN 4073.
Reception to follow.
All are welcome.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Sara Johanson (MA student, Linguistics). Title: TBA.
Degif Banksira (Linguistics). Title: Against Mobile Morphemes
Vit Bubenik (Linguistics).
Title: On the Establishment of Ergative Alignment in Indo-Aryan Languages
Talks start at 4pm. Receptions to follow. All are welcome.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Feel free to bring your lunch or a snack for the group. We are hungry grad students.
Date: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: FM-2006 (Sociolinguistics lab)
Monday, January 17, 2011
|This talk is sponsored by the English Department. Dr. Jeff Webb (Department of History) will speak on the writing of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. |
A Distinguishing Feature of the English Department:
The Writing of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English
Dr. Branigan's new book, "Provocative Syntax" has been published as Linguistics Inquiry Monograph 61, by the MIT Press.
More information about Dr. Branigan's book can be found here.
What people are saying about Phil (and his book) (from the MIT Press page):
"Provocative Syntax is a desperately needed breath of fresh air for Minimalist syntax's model of movement. ‘Provocation’ is an exciting alternative to the EPP that is still well grounded in Chomskyan tradition. This book is a must-read for anyone dissatisfied with motivating movement via uninterpretable features."
—Daniel Siddiqi, School of Linguistics
"Provocative Syntax sparkles with originality and erudition. Branigan brilliantly connects seemingly unrelated theoretical strands to weave a tight and elegant model of syntactic movement and provides theoretically unified solutions to many outstanding problems in the syntax of Germanic and Romance. Among the numerous books and papers spawned by Chomsky’s Minimalist program, this book is one of the most profound I’ve read.”
—Ur Shlonsky, Professor of Linguistics, University of Geneva
February 11, 2011
Are Analogy-Based Approaches to Phonological Acquisition Viable?
When learning a language, children must first learn the phonological categories (e.g. sound and syllable types) particular to that language. Even though such learning appears to exploit statistical regularities in language input (e.g. Kuhl 2004), this seems at odds with a growing body of evidence that the later stages of phonological acquisition are performed at a more symbolic level (e.g. Thiessen & Saffran 2003). One way of dealing with this problem is to assume that acquisition occurs by progressive and incremental generalizations over linguistic inputs. Such a model phrased within Dedre Gentner's structure-mapping theory of analogy-based generalization has been shown to be consistent with the later acquisition of individual words, syntax, and relational categories.
This suggests two important questions:
1) Can such a (possibly modified) model work for phonological acquisition?
2) How might such a model be tested?
In this talk, we will give some preliminary answers and further thoughts on these questions.