Category Archives: Faculty News

Bradley McDonnell, Andrea Berez-Kroeker, and Gary Holton Publish Edited Volume

Faculty members Bradley McDonnell, Andrea Berez-Kroeker, and Gary Holton publish an edited Special Publication for the journal Language Documentation & Conservation entitled, Reflections on Language Documentation 20 Years after Himmelmann 1998.

This volume reflects on key issues in the field of language documentation on the 20 year anniversary of Nikolaus Himmelmann’s seminal article “Documentary and descriptive linguistics” in the journal Linguistics. Himmelmann’s central argument that language documentation should “be conceived of as a fairly independent field of linguistic inquiry and practice” has prompted major theoretical and practical shifts, helping to establish documentary linguistics as a genuine subfield of linguistics. Now 20 years later we are able ask: how has this new field evolved?

In order to address this question, we invited 38 experts from around the world to reflect on either particular issues within the realm of language documentation or particular regions where language documentation projects are being carried out. The issues discussed in this volume represent a broad and diverse range of topics from multiple perspectives and for multiple purposes. Some topics have been hotly debated over the past two decades, while others have emerged more recently. Many contributors also speculate on what comes next, looking at the future of documentary linguistics from a variety of perspectives. Hence, the 31 vignettes provide not only reflections on where we have been but also a glimpse of where the field might be headed.

Shigeo Tonoike publishes Minimalist Comparative Syntax of English and Japanese

Shigeo Tonoike, PhD graduate of our department and recent instructor of syntax in our department, has just had his new book published. It is written in Japanese, and its title can be translated to Minimalist Comparative Syntax of English and Japanese. Many congratulations to Shigeo, and we look forward to the English translation of this book that he is working on.

『ミニマリスト日英語比較統語論』[A Minimalist Comparative Syntax of English and Japanese] (xviii+427pp.) by Shigeo Tonoike (published from Kaitakusha Publishing Company) is the compilation of the author’s research on comparative syntax of English over 40 years since late 1980s. It proposes a radical reduction in the operations allowed by UG (basically to the operations of Merge and Agree) eliminating others of dubious conceptual necessity such as LF copying, PF deletion, covert movement etc. It then shows that syntaxes (grammars/ computational systems) of English and Japanese (and by implication of other languages) are essentially the same with parametric variations such as word order and morphology reduced to observable differences between them. One major claim of the book is that English and Japanese are mirror images of each other and that the basic word order in Japanese is OSV as opposed to the widely assumed ordre of SOV.


Andrea Berez-Kroeker Receives the Linguistic Society of America’s 2019 Early Career Award

2019 Early Career Award: Andrea Berez-Kroeker

The Early Career Award, established in 2010, recognizes scholars early in their career who have made outstanding contributions to the field of linguistics. Andrea Berez-Kroeker has established herself as one of the rising stars in the documentation of endangered languages. She has brought an unusually strong level of technological sophistication to her work, especially in the areas of language archiving, data processing, and visualization. Only the most exceptional of early career scholars can manage to do significant documentary work and produce a sizable record of publications while spending hundreds of “hidden” hours on basic data analysis, interaction with consultants, and outreach efforts. Her trajectory since finishing her Ph.D. has been only upward, and she shows every sign of becoming not only a leader within the language documentation community, but also a scholar who will make important connections with other areas of linguistics and with speaker communities.

—Courtesy of a Linguistic Society of America news release

James Collins publishes in NLLT

James Collins, recent hire in Linguistics, has had a paper published in the highly prestigious journal Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. The paper is entitled ‘Definiteness determined by syntax: A case study in Tagalog’, and the abstract is pasted below:
Using Tagalog as a case study, this paper provides an analysis of a cross-linguistically well attested phenomenon, namely, cases in which a bare NP’s syntactic position is linked to its interpretation as definite or indefinite. Previous approaches to this phenomenon, including analyses of Tagalog, appeal to specialized interpretational rules, such as Diesing’s Mapping Hypothesis. I argue that the patterns fall out of general compositional principles so long as type-shifting operators are available to the gram- matical system. I begin by weighing in a long-standing issue for the semantic analysis of Tagalog: the interpretational distinction between genitive and nominative transitive patients. I show that bare NP patients are interpreted as definites if marked with nominative case and as narrow scope indefinites if marked with genitive case. Bare NPs are understood as basically predicative; their quantificational force is determined by their syntactic position. If they are syntactically local to the selecting verb, they are existentially quantified by the verb itself. If they occupy a derived position, such as the subject position, they must type-shift in order to avoid a type-mismatch, generating a definite interpretation. Thus the paper develops a theory of how the position of an NP is linked to its interpretation, as well as providing a compositional treatment of NP-interpretation in a language which lacks definite articles but demonstrates other morphosyntactic strategies for signaling (in)definiteness.

Large contingent represents UH at the recently concluded BUCLD

We had one of our most impressive and largest showings at the Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD) this year (2018), with five oral presentations and seven poster presentations. This is an impressive showing because the acceptance rate for oral presentations was 18%, and a further 28% of abstracts were accepted as posters. In the attached photo, we see (from left to right) Hyunwoo Kim (recent graduate of SLS), Gyu-Ho Shin (current PhD student in Linguistics), Theres Grueter (faculty in SLS), Akari Ohba (PhD student in Linguistics), Grant Muagututi’a (recent graduate of Linguistics, instructor in Linguistics), Bonnie D. Schwartz (faculty in SLS), Ivan Bondoc (PhD student in Linguistics), Elaine Lau (recent graduate of Linguistics, post-doc at Chinese University of Hong Kong), Kamil Deen (faculty in Linguistics), Jinsun Choe (recent graduate of Linguistics, faculty at Korea Tech ), Michael Clauss (recent graduate of Linguistics), Wenyi Ling (current student in SLS), Yunchuan Chen(recent graduate of EALL) and Nozomi Tanaka (recent graduate of Linguistics, faculty at Indiana U).

Gary Holton in the news: Biocultural Diversity

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific, a knowledge center and network linking scholars, instructors and students who share the common goal of thinking holistically to enhance understanding of biocultural systems, is now part of a new, multi-university project that will explore how to make interdisciplinary research more effective and impactful for students and communities, with a focus on sustainability science.

The two-year research project is funded with a $500,000 grant from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI), and includes 12 universities from across the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. It is one of three winners of the new NAKFI Challenge competition, chosen from a field of 79 proposals.

UH Mānoa professors Tamara Ticktin, Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor, Alexander Mawyer and Gary Holton serve as co-directors of the UH Mānoa Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific.

For more information, please visit University of Hawaiʿi at Mānoa News.

First‐Ever Credit Course on Jejueo Taught at a Post‐Secondary Institution

Jejueo, the language of Korea’s Jeju Island, is now being taught for credit in a post‐secondary institution for the first time. The language, long mistakenly classified as a dialect of Korean, is not intelligible to people who speak only Korean and has come to be recognized as a separate language by many linguists and institutions, including UNESCO and the Endangered Language Catalogue at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

In 2017, Dr. Changyong Yang, dean of the College of Language Education at Jeju National University and adjunct professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, was asked to teach a for‐credit course on Jejueo in the Department of Nursing at the Jeju Tourism University (제주관광대학교). The goal of the course was to prepare nursing students to better serve the needs of elderly patients who prefer to communicate with health care providers in Jejueo rather than Korean.

Reaction to the course has been very positive. The students have expressed amazement at how different Jejueo is from Korean and how important familiarity with the language has been for communicating with elderly patients. About forty students registered for Dr. Yang’s class in the spring of 2017 and about sixty in the spring of the following year. The course will be offered again in the spring of 2019.

Dr. Yang is using as his textbook the first volume of a Jejueo‐language series that he has co‐authored with Sejung Yang, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and William O’Grady, a professor in the same department. Preparation of the volumes in the series has been supported by the Core University Program for Korean Studies through the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS‐2015‐OLU‐2250005).

Original publication from Center for Korean Studies News.

Oxford Handbook of Endangered Languages

The Oxford Handbook of Endangered Languages is now out, edited by our very own Kenneth L.  Rehg and Lyle Campbell. This influential and highly prestigious volume contains contributions by no less than 18 of our current or former students/faculty. It’s fair to say that our department’s perspective on endangered languages is very well represented. Congratulations to all!
List of contributors with University of Hawaii affiliations:
Belew, Anna
Berez-Kroeker, Andrea
Camp, Amber
Campbell, Lyle
Chen, Victoria
Dunn, Christopher
Henke, Ryan
Holton, Gary
Lee, Nala
Magnunson, Matthew
O’Grady, William
Okura, Eve
Rarrick, Samantha
Rehg, Kenneth L.
Simpson, Sean
Tang, Apay
Thieberger, Nick
Van Way, John