Tuesday Seminar: Clausal constituency as a window into historical Austronesian morphosyntax

Daniel Kaufman (Endangered Language Alliance & Queens College)

In this talk, I use traditional constituency diagnostics such as coordination and adverb placement to investigate the status of the verb phase in Austronesian. Conservative Malayo-Polynesian languages are shown to treat the verb and Agent of a Non-Actor Voice clause as a constituent which excludes the Patient (in agreement with earlier analyses of languages such as Tagalog and Malagasy). This stands in strong contrast to (both accusative and ergative) languages of mainland SE Asia, most of which show relatively good evidence for a traditional Verb Phrase that includes the verb and Patient while excluding the Agent. 

Expanding on earlier work, I argue that the unusual grouping of transitive Agent with the verb is accounted for in Austronesian by the historical reanalysis of possessors as agents. Possessors naturally form a constituent with the noun phrases they modify and thus the Possessor/Agent forms a constituent with the verb after the N>V reanalysis. This leads us to an interesting prediction regarding Puyuma and Tsou under Ross’s (2009) Nuclear Austronesian hypothesis. If only the realis paradigm consisting of Patient Voice *-en, Locative Voice *-an, and Circumstantial Voice *Si-  derives historically from the reanalysis of nominalizations, we do not expect the unusual constituency of Non-Actor Voice clauses in Malayo-Polynesian languages to show up in the irrealis paradigm, which never passed through this nominal stage. 

Evidence from Puyuma and Tsou points towards the existence of just such an asymmetry. Teng (2008) strongly suggests an unmarked word order in Puyuma Non-Actor Voice clauses that is highly unusual for Formosan and Philippine languages: the pivot (or NOM argument) regularly precedes the transitive agent. The unmarked status of this order was supported by experimental elicitation in recent fieldwork. Crucially, however, the unmarked Pred GenP NomP order of NAV clauses in Nuclear Austronesian languages also emerged in Puyuma in clauses with nominal predicates. This can be interpreted to support the Nuclear An Hypothesis as it represents an additional syntactic parallelism between nominal predicates in extra-Nuclear An languages and the canonical declaratives of Nuclear An languages.  Beyond these particular arguments specific to Austronesian, I aim to address the wider relevance of word order and clausal constituency to solve historical questions.

SLS Thursday Lecture Series (Brown Bag)

Abstract linguistic knowledge in only-, first- and second-language processing
Presenter: Anne Cutler, Western Sydney University
The title subject will be illustrated by evidence from talker recognition and adaptation, phonetic-to-lexical mapping in L2, relearning of a lost language, and generalisation from speech perception to production.
Anne Cutler is a Professor and Research Chair at The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at Western Sydney University, Australia. Starting out as a teacher of German as a foreign language, she has become one of the most renowned psycholinguists worldwide. She is the recipient of the Spinoza Prize of the Dutch Science Council (1999), and the author of Native listening: Language experience and the recognition of spoken words (2012).

Data Science Group for Language Researchers Meeting 3/7/2017

The new Data Science Group for Language Researchers will have its next meeting on Tuesday 3/7/17 from 4-5pm in the Phonetics Lab (Moore 162). The topic for this meeting is data wrangling and tidy data. During the first half of the meeting we will explore the idea of tidy data and Hadley Wickham’s tidyverse R packages that are helpful in wrangling data. During the last half of the meeting we will work on wrangling some messy data in order to have some hands-on experience with the new R packages. All are welcome to attend but please bring your laptop with R and R Studio already installed.

Brad Rentz

Immigration: Community Alliance, Rights, & Resources

UH-Immigration and Refugee Coalition Panel and Discussion.

Panelists will include an immigration attorney, and immigrant, refugee and Native Hawaiian rights advocates and organizers.

All are welcome. We are structuring this as a safe space for discussion.

Cosponsors: La Raza, La Alianza at William S. Richardson School of Law, UH Manoa Graduate Student Organization, Native Hawaiian Student Services, Aloha DREAM Team, Decolonial Pin@ys, Hawaii Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and UH – Students and Faculty for Justice in Palestine

Austronesian Circle: The Case of the Missing Austronesian Languages

Speaker: Dr. Joel Bradshaw

Austronesian (An) languages are scattered all along the coast and offshore islands of the mainland of Papua New guinea, from the Indonesian border all the way around to Central Papua. But there is an exceptionally wide, unexplained gap of 270 km between Numbami, the last an language on the south coast of the Huon Gulf, and Maisin, the first An language in southeast Papua. This stretch of coast is now populated entirely by speakers of Binanderean (Bin) languages belonging to the larger Trans-New Guinea family. Nevertheless, traces of contact with Oceanic (Oc) languages can be found among Bin languages, even in a few Proto-Binandere reconstructions. Bin structural influence on Maisin has been so heavy that scholars once argued about whether Maisin was basically Austronesian or Papuan. Ross (1984, 1996) has now definitively made the case for Maisin as Oc. This work presents linguistic and ethnohistorical evidence of Numbami contact with its neighboring Guhu-Samane languages, which form a very divergent group related to Bin (Smallhorn 2011), and may owe some of their divergent features to heavy contact with languages like Numbami.

Tuesday Seminar: The Austronesian Comparative Dictionary – Five Years Later

Stephen Trussel & Dr. Robert Blust, with assistance from Victoria Yen-hsin Chen, UHM-Linguistics Department

Comparative dictionaries are rare, as they require knowledge of the phonological histories of numerous related languages, together with years of intensive work in assembling cognate sets and providing reconstructions that show how these sets originated from unitary forms.  The Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (ACD) began as a 59-page article published in 1970.  Work leading up to it continued intermittently through the 1970s and 1980s, and culminated in an NSF grant from 1990-1995 which combined all previously published material with new material in a unified online comparative dictionary with about 2,500 base entries and many more affixed forms.  There was then a 15-year lapse when little further work was done on it.  Starting in 2010 a chance meeting of Robert Blust with Stephen Trussel reinvigorated the work, which has expanded dramatically since then both in scope and in computational sophistication.  A report on this exceptionally productive collaboration was given as a Tuesday seminar talk on March 6, 2012, and published in the December, 2013 issue of Oceanic Linguistics.  This talk aims to show how much further growth has taken place in the five years since the first talk, and in doing so to give some idea of the scope, complexity, computational sophistication and scholarly value of a work that is now going on 47 years in the making, and ranks as the largest research project ever undertaken in the study of the Austronesian languages.

NOTE: Please bring your laptops, as part of this talk will require you to use them to call up data samples from the ACD (www.trussel2.com/ACD).