Why are calqued idioms more acceptable than “genuine” expressions? A pragmatic case study of Catalan.
Ariadna Díaz Lopez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona
This study compares the usage of the Catalan idiom amb la que està caient (“with what is going on”), a calque from Spanish, with some of the equivalent “genuine” Catalan idioms.
An example containing the Catalan calque will be (1):
(1) Bueh amb la que esta caient la importancia d’això és 0”
(“Bueh with what is going on that is not important”).
An example of a “genuine” Catalan idiom will be amb el panorama actual (“with the current panorama”) (2):
(2) “Sincerament, amb el panorama actual no sé a què estem esperant per a sortir al carrer i reivindicar justícia i democràcia”
(“Sincerely, with the current panorama I don’t know what we are waiting for going out to the street and reclaiming justice and democracy”).
The questions investigated are: why do we tend to use the Catalan calque instead of using one of the “genuine” Catalan idioms? To what degree is the Catalan calque accepted or not?
Using Twitter search, I have compiled a corpus of 874 tweets stemming from 2007 to 2018 containing the Catalan calque and some “genuine” idioms selected to carry out the study. In this talk I will present my analysis of this data with regard to the idiom properties –flexibility, frozenness, opacity and transparency– established by Flores d’Arcais (1993) and I will discuss comparatively all the idioms chosen. I will show that the idioms under analysis differ significantly with regard to those properties, which has an effect on their pragmatic and figurative meaning.
The Importance of Methodological Choices in the Typology of Uncommon Phenomena: A Gilaki Case Study.
Breanna Brigitte Pratley, University of Toronto (St. George campus)
All scientific endeavors risk methodological choices creating bias. This issue is especially prominent in linguistics, as many researchers focus exclusively on their supporting data and forget to consider counterevidence (Labov 1972). My analysis of Gilaki passives shows that research bias is exacerbated in elusive phenomena, and that it can be reduced through methodological choices. Importantly, the artificial setting of some fieldwork may permit production and acceptance of phrases that would not naturally be used. It is therefore the researcher’s responsibility to choose methods that create an environment conducive to natural speech. The examined methods can be organized into two groups: Natural and Unnatural. These are extreme generalizations, but effectively distinguish between types. When researching a rare phenomenon, like Gilaki passives, eliciting initial data will likely be difficult. Therefore, Unnatural methods such as direct translations are often employed. These methods are extremely useful, and do not produce incorrect data, but often give an unrealistic picture of prevalence. Crucially, my use of Natural research methods, including narratives, picture descriptions, felicity judgement tasks, and asking for perceived naturalness, exposed that Gilaki passives are used almost exclusively under three conditions. Through my Gilaki passive study, I gathered evidence of each method’s impact on the data. While these methodological findings are generalizable, this case study exemplifies how a bias can be amplified when natural tokens of the phenomenon are scarce.
Word-Final Vowel Deletion: Italian’s Influence on Faetar?
Anissa Baird and Rachel Keir, University of Toronto (St. George campus)
Faetar is a Francoprovençal language spoken in Southern Italy in which, as in Italian, variable final vowel deletion occurs. Nagy & Reynolds (1997) determined that older speakers tended to delete their word-final vowels more than younger speakers, and interpreted that to be due to influence by Italian’s stress patterns. However, Nagy & Reynolds did not examine this variation in Italian as no quantitative studies of Italian dialects near Faeto were available. This leads to the question of whether or not Faetar is truly being influenced by Italian, or if both languages are undergoing the same (or similar) variation independently. To answer this question, we examine 20 Southern Italian speakers from the Heritage Language Documentation Corpus (Nagy 2011), 8 Homeland and 12 Heritage speakers from Toronto (900 tokens). Mixed-effects modeling shows that later generations delete vowels less often. However, there is a high correlation between age and generation. Additionally, it is expected that the higher the Ethnic Orientation Questionnaire (EOQ) score of the Heritage speakers, the more similar to Homeland Italian speakers they will sound and the less they will delete these vowels. As such, we are examining the data to more accurately determine the interaction between age, generation, and EOQ scores for word-final vowel deletion in Homeland and Heritage Italian. Once we ascertain this, the next step will be to see if Nagy & Reynolds’ (1997) proposal of Optimality Theory with floating constraints can be applied to this dataset.
Modifier Reduplication in Gilaki.
Rosemary Webb, University of Toronto (St. George campus)
Pure full reduplication of adjectives and adverbs is found in Gilaki with several contextual restrictions. I provide a descriptive account of the reduplicative function and its restrictions, which I group into three contrasts: event/state, unexpected/expected, and animate/inanimate. Previous literature on Gilaki features very little discussion of reduplication, save for some examples of adverbial reduplication used as intensification (Rastorgueva et al. 2012:74), however this was not attested in my research and the functions that I did identify are absent from the text. This gap in the published materials presents a space in which to put forward my work on my current hypothesis, the contrasts given above. A production task was run to test the hypothesis of modifier reduplication used as intensification, and this was disproven. A grammaticality judgement task was then run to test the three hypothesized contrasts. Results from the second task showed the reduplicated adverbs I tested to be accepted in unexpected contexts more than expected contexts, accepted in descriptions of events but rejected in descriptions of states, and a preference for animate rather than inanimate subjects was revealed. These findings, in combination with the results from the production task falsifying my first hypothesis of intensification, complicate and supplement the prior literature on reduplication in Gilaki.
Me/My Variation in Tyneside English.
Nadia Takhtaganova, York University
This paper analyses variation in use of the first personal singular possessive pronoun my (the standard variant) vs. me (the vernacular variant) in conversational data for Tyneside, located in the north of England. Using data from interviews conducted in the 1960s and 1970s, which comprise the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (Corrigan et al 2012), I conduct a variationist analysis of social and phonological factors that condition the variable’s realization as my or as me (see Pearce 2009, Wales 2006). Significant results were as follows. Position in the linguistic marketplace was the most statistically significant, with speakers ranking lower on the index favouring the vernacular over the standard variant, and speakers ranking higher in the linguistic marketplace favouring the standard. Gender came next; with male speakers heavily favouring the vernacular and female speakers the standard. Finally, the results for age as a continuous variable showed that, for every additional year in a speaker’s life, there is an observed 0.5 decrease in the odds that the first person singular possessive pronoun will be realised as me in their speech. In contrast, occupation was not statistically significant. Further, stressed tokens tended to be realized my, for which at least a partial explanation may be homophony avoidance.
Topic-valued Null-Subjects and Noun Class Agreement in Kinyarwanda.
Sarah Welton-Lair and Evan Platzer, Gordon College (Massachusetts)
Canonical pro-drop languages such as Spanish and Italian allow subjects to be null, yet listeners are still able to retrieve the subject’s meaning. Past accounts have argued that rich agreement on verbs allows meaning to be recovered, but the existence of null subjects in Mandarin (which has no agreement on verbs) contradicts this theory. Thus, it is not enough to merely cite “agreement” as what licenses a null subject.
We examine Kinyarwanda, a highly agglutinative null subject language with subject noun class marking on the verb. The presence of noun class markers in null subject sentences indicates that a syntactic process is at work, so an explanation of null subjects must include a syntactic process. We posit that Topics in the CP layer agree with the null subjects, which then agree with verbs, resulting in noun class markers while also making the semantic content of the subject available to the listener.
We support this theory using tests developed to show this process at work in Italian (Frascarelli 2007). Topic-valued pro has also shown to occur in Japanese and Mandarin (Liu 2014), so we compare Kinyarwanda with them as well. The fact that one theory can account for a canonical pro-drop language, languages with no subject-verb agreement, and a language with a complex system of noun-class markers on the verb indicates that the theory could reflect something deeper about language in general.
Choosing between VVPE and OG in Brazilian Portuguese.
Mark Smith, University of Toronto (St. George campus)
Verb Stranding Verb Phras Ellipsis (VVPE) is a construction that disputably exists in languages where a main verb can move out of the vP to a higher projection before the entire vP is ellided. This creates a pronounced form that is difficult to differ from a dropped argument.
In this presentation I explore two central questions. First is how can we test whether the VVPE form is a construction in the grammar rather than just a speaker accommodation. To do this I will briefly trace tests used in the literature and try to apply them to BP. The second aim is to put the issue of argument ellipsis and VVPE in the realm of LF ambiguity and emphasize the role of pragmatics in resolving this ambiguity.
This phenomenon stands at the intersection of Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics and could be very telling to how speakers process utterances and how the principle of economy, as outlined in Hornstein, Nunes, and Grohmann (2005), affects comprehension. Consequently, this talk touches on a common criticism that syntax ignores real world data in theories of grammar.
Inflectional Morphemes inside Derivation: An Investigation of Oji-Cree.
Sarah Hoffman, University of Manitoba
Oji-Cree is an Algonquian language spoken mainly in Ontario and Manitoba. This presentation will examine particular inflectional morphemes which occur inside of derivational morphology and attempt to explain why this occurs. The focus of this research project is a morphological slot called the theme sign which appears in transitive verbs between a stem and inflectional suffixes (Bloomfield 1946)
Transitive verbs that select inanimate objects (known as “Transitive Inanimate” or TI verbs) appear with theme signs that have been analyzed as class markers with no syntactic function (Nichols 1980:160), and are known for their role in inflection (Goddard 2007). Yet patterns emerge in derivation which suggests another role. If the theme sign were part of inflection, it “should” appear after the derivational affix with the rest of inflection, however sometimes a derivational affix attaches directly to a stem and sometimes it attaches after the theme sign.
The issue was investigated by working with one speaker of Oji-Cree to examine the patterning of theme signs in the derivational processes of nominalization and causativization. The speaker was asked for judgements of invented Oji-Cree words, or to produce an Oji-Cree word when given an English translation, and had clear intuitions regarding when theme signs should and should not appear in particular constructions.
The data suggests that derivational and inflectional theme signs serve different functions. This presentation will describe the process of working with an Oji-Cree speaker, walk through the derivational processes examined, and discuss the significance of the results.
Gender Phonology of Urdu Names.
Nazia Mohsin, University of Toronto (Scarborough campus)
The arbitrary relationship between sound and meaning is commonly thought to be a distinctive attribute of language; sounds present in a word are not symbolic of its meaning. However, a growing body of literature suggests that sound-to-meaning mapping is not always arbitrary as previously thought. Research suggests that sound symbolism extends to gender phonology of first names. Despite a growing body of work on phonetic symbolism in various languages, few linguistic studies have investigated Urdu and none have probed sound symbolism in Urdu.
This study examined (i) whether gender-correlated phonological differences occur in Urdu first names and (ii) if Urdu speakers actively use these patterns in making judgements on the gender of made-up names.
200 names (100 male) were collected using baby name websites and elicitations from native speakers, and the correlation between phonological features (stress position, syllable weight, sonorancy, vowel backness, and length) and name gender was examined. Findings indicate that there are gender-correlated phonological differences in Urdu first names and most trends found were in line with previous findings for English, suggesting potential universality of phonetic symbolism. Data is being collected for the experimental phase of this study.
The present study sheds light on phonetic symbolism in Urdu within the context of gender phonology. Arbitrary sound and meaning associations previously thought as one of the central tenets of language is being challenged by the concept of phonetic symbolism. This study inspires further work investigating other areas of phonetic symbolism extending beyond gender phonology of first names.
Exploring the Universality of Prodrop Patterns: An Analysis of Korean Heritage and Homeland Speakers.
Aileen Song and Grace Ryu, University of Toronto (St. George campus)
This paper observes the discourse prodrop patterns in heritage and homeland Korean with the premise of testing the initial hypothesis of the Hertiage Language Variation and Change (HLVC) project where prodrop rates were predicted to be influenced by a contact language, and the universal subject omission patterns predicted by the Preferred Argument Structure (Du Bois, Kumpf, & Ashby, 2003). Approximately 50 tokens were extracted from interviews of 1st and 2nd generation Korean heritage speakers and homeland speakers of both genders. Two parameters were taken into account during the analysis: prodrop (whether the prodrop occurred) and the verb type (transitive, intransitive, or linking). The results showed that prodrop rates in transitive sentences for of 1st and 2nd generation heritage speakers for both genders were slightly higher than in intransitive sentences whereas the opposite occurred for homeland speakers; however, the differences were not significant. Additionally, the rate of prodrop for all speakers were consistently high, concluding that the co-existence of a non-prodrop language may not influence subject omission tendencies.
The role of voice familiarity during bilingual spoken language processing.
Kai Ian Leung and Dr. Monika Molnar (supervisor), University of Toronto
Bilingual individuals need to balance the activation of two of their languages to keep up in multilingual situations. In adults, non-linguistic information such as interlocutor identity information (i.e. information about what a person sounds and looks like) has been found to help bilinguals predict speech by pre-selecting a language based on previous knowledge of the speaker using the language (Molnar, Ibáñez-Molina, Carreiras, 2015). In the current of study, we particularly focus on the role of familiar voices when it comes to language activation. This research methodology involves selecting 30 monolingual and 30 bilingual adults to participate in phonological processing and short-term memory assessment. The actual experimental task involves teaching the participants to differentiate between speakers who will be producing both English words and Farsi words (a language unknown to the monolingual and bilingual participants) and then putting the hypothesis to the test in an English lexical decision paradigm. Additionally, a language background assessment was conducted to gather information about the variety of languages and the proficiency of the participants. It is predicted that bilinguals would perform better than their monolingual peers in discriminating unfamiliar voices and at associating voices to languages. It is also predicted that better phonological processing and short-term memory skills in general (across monolinguals and bilinguals) will result in better performance on the voice familiarity task. As Canada’s linguistic diversity grows every year, the proposed research can contribute to the understanding of how an ever growing section of the population, bilinguals, process spoken language.
Tones in Nanchang Dialect.
Yu Cai, York University
The Nanchang Dialect is a Chinese dialect spoken mainly in Nanchang. The emergence of Nanchang dialect dated back to over 2000 years ago during Song Dynasty, and the language has been inherited by generations ever since.
The research aims to take a first look at tones in Nanchang dialect. More specifically, it focuses on: 1) the distinctive features of tone; 2) tone sandhi in Nanchang dialect; 3) how Optimality Theory (OT) may be potentially used to explain the tone sandhi on a preliminary basis.
Data was recorded based on a wordlist of 19 individual words, plus 9 phrasal words (28 in total) and analyzed with Praat. The maximum F0, minimum F0, the range and mean F0 for each were measured, and the average values for each respectively was calculated later. Some preliminary results can be proposed here: 1) 5 distinctive tones in isolated words: high level, high falling, high rising, low rising and falling rising; 2) 3 distinctive tones in phrasal words: high level, high falling and low rising; 3) the Optimality Theory is preferred in explaining the tone sandhi phenomena in that it provides a united functional ranking: having no adjacent syllables linked to prominent tone is undominated, followed by having no more than 2 tones can appear in one TBU (unless the underlying form has more than 2 tones), which is followed subsequently by tone deletion & having each TBU associate with a tone.
Detecting Mispronunciations in Ongoing Speech: A Replication Study.
Shailynn Athmer, University of Saskatchewan
In 1973, Ronald Cole performed a research experiment to, “examine the role of individual acoustic features in the perception of ongoing speech” (p.153). To accomplish this, he presented participants with a passage that included mispronunciations that were manipulated by one, two, or four distinctive features from the original. He found that it is less obvious to detect a mispronunciation of one acoustic feature than of four (Cole, 1973). The current presentation is a work in progress and will determine if the position of a speech error in a multisyllabic word influences error detection rates of participants by using a modified version of Cole’s methodology. Forty-five multisyllabic words have been chosen at random from The Frog Princess by Laura Cecil and used for manipulation. A single consonant in each of these words has been changed by place and manner. The error will occur in either word-initial, word-medial, or word-final position and distributed evenly throughout the recordings. Three high quality digital audio files have been recorded by a native speaker of Canadian English, which participants must listen to and press a key on the keyboard as quickly as possible after hearing a mispronunciation. It is expected that participants will detect mispronunciations more often when they occur in word-final position. This is supported by Cole (1973) who claims that participants must first acquire enough information to understand what the word is before they can process that an error has occurred.
Voice Mismatch between English and Japanese in SLA
Hiroto Kumakura and Yuji Shuhama, Keiwa College (Japan)
This research examines why Japanese learners of L2 English frequently make common grammatical errors in the usage of passive voice. It also analyzes what causes the learners to confuse between L1 Japanese and L2 English grammar for the usage based on 30 written samples collected in our questionnaire survey. It then points out the reason for the errors caused by this confusion and consider a helpful way to map appropriate L2 English grammar of passive voice onto their intended meaning.
One causal factor is a mismatched system of active-passive voice alternation between Japanese and English. Both languages passivize transitive object NPs, but they differ in whether someone/something that is indirectly affected by the expressed event can be the subject or not. For example, an English transitive sentence Mary criticized John’s article is passivized into John’s article was criticized by Mary but not into *John was criticized his article by Mary. Japanese, in contrast, allows not only the former type but also the latter type passive sentences such as John-ga Mary-ni ronbun-o hihans-are-ta. (John-NOM Mary-by article-ACC criticize-PASS-PAST: ‘John had his article criticized by Mary’).
The above mismatch between Japanese passives with a passive morpheme -rare passives and English be/have passives will be explored in detail in terms of their syntactic and functional characteristics and from the viewpoint of second language acquisition.