This seminar/colloquium series is presented by the Department of Linguistics and the Division of Continuing Studies, University of Victoria.
All sessions are free and open to the public: no pre-registration is required.
Colloquia Fall 2014 - Spring 2015
* For further information, please contact Dr. Hossein Nassaji (email@example.com).
Abstract: For a majority of world languages (Dryer, 2012), subject precedes object (i.e., SO order). Nevertheless, the preference for SO order is not simply subject salience (Greenberg, 1963), but base-generated structure used for sentence processing in a majority of languages. In my talk, (1) I will introduce an eye-tracking experiment on Japanese sentence processing (Tamaoka et al., in press) which provides evidence for filler-gap parsing on the foundations of a base-generated structure. (2) I will present a series of experiments using a sentence-correctness decision task (Tamaoka et al., 2005) which examined priority information (thematic roles, particles or grammatical functions) determining which type of structure is canonical order (base-generated structure). (3) I will discuss the results of (2) duplicated in the same series of experiments on Sinhalese sentence processing (Kanduboda and Tamaoka, 2011). (4) I will present a sentence processing experiment (Koizumi et al., under review) conducted on one of the rare OS languages, Maya Kaqchikel, which offers a potential OS-ordered base-generated structure. (5) Finally, if time allows, although straying a bit from the logical flow of my talk from (1) to (4), I will also introduce some second language studies (Tamaoka, 2005; Tamaoka et al., 2010) on Japanese sentence processing by native Chinese speakers learning Japanese.
References: Dryer, Matthew S. (2012). Order of subject, object and verb. The world atlas of language structures online. Matthew S. Dryer and Martin Haspelmath (eds.), Munich: Max Planck Digital Library. [Online] Retrieved on 21 October 2012 from: http://wals.info/chapter/81. Greenberg, Joseph H. (1963). Universals of Language: Report of a Conference Held at Dobbs Ferry, New York, April 13–15, 1961. Cambridge: MIT Press. Kanduboda, Arachchige Prabath Buddhika and Katsuo Tamaoka (2012). Priority information determining the canonical word order of written Sinhalese sentences. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 2(1), 26-33.
Abstract: In this talk, I present the revitalization-driven research emerging from collaboration with the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program. This collaboration began two and a half years ago, with a service-learning trip to Ada, Oklahoma, which was perhaps less service and more a 'first date' between two programs (as characterized back then by now-collaborator CLRP Director Joshua Hinson). The Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program is vigorously engaged in many activities to support language use by the remaining 70 or so fluent speakers, and to generate proficient second language learners using Master-Apprentices. Chickasaw, a Muskogean language, is very prosodically complex, with long vowels, geminate consonants, laryngeals, pitch accent, nasalization and rhythmic lengthening, all of which interact with a rich morphology that includes prefixes, suffixes and an elaborate system of internal changes of ablaut known as verb grades. Analyzing the phonology, especially the complex prosody, is essential not only to learning, but to teaching the verb because verb grade formation references prosodic categories such as the 'penultimate syllable' for these internal phonological changes.
Among our long-term goals is to create a learner-oriented publication, with audio, that we conceptualize as '501 Verbs of Chickasaw.' The agglutinative morphology and the complex prosody are challenging for learners. The inflectional patterns of the first verb underway exceed 30 typed pages, but will serve as a model for collecting the next sets of verbs. We are experimenting with a variety of field techniques, and exploring how these can be made more accessible to other indigenous documentation projects. Service-learning continues to be a cornerstone of these projects, and we have also used my expertise in phonology for training activities for Chickasaw second language learners, as well as to give theoretical structure to our documentation goals. Ultimately, training, documentation, revitalization, and outreach all inform each other, with products in one domain feeding into others.[ c l o s e ]
Second language learners often have to acquire L2 segments or sequences which are not licensed by their L1 phonology. It is well-documented that not all segments are equally difficult to acquire (see the plethora of work inspired by Flege's Speech Learning Model or Best's Perceptual Assimilation Model). In this talk, I examine the role of transitional phonetic cues (in the sense of Wright, 2004) in accounting for the empirical data related to the acquisition of L2 segments and consonantal sequences involving laryngeal features. In looking at the L2 acquisition of ejectives (Spanish -> Yucatec), breathy voice (English/French -> Hindi), [h] (French -> English), and homorganic onset clusters (Portuguese -> English), I will argue that the second language learners privilege the processing of certain types of transitional cues (e.g. release burst) over the processing of internal cues (e.g formant structure).[ c l o s e ]
Even though the official language in Cyprus is Standard Modern Greek (along with Turkish), and the use of dialect in government, education and other major institutions is proscribed to a great extent, Cypriot Greek is the most robust Greek regional variety, and perhaps the only one with a chance to survive. Recently, researchers (e.g. Terkourafi 2005) have made the case that a Cypriot koiné has emerged over the past four decades which has reshaped the relationship of the local variety to the standard. In this talk, I will discuss the major historical and political events that have shaped the current sociolinguistic situation, and at the same time describe the tensions and challenges that speakers of that community face. I will then present the results of an investigation into the variation between the palatal lateral (ʎ) and the palatal fricative (ʝ) in the koiné and discuss the implications of these findings for the current status of Cypriot Greek and its future. [ c l o s e ]