Tuesday Seminar: Christian Mortensen, Andrew Pick

Speaker: Christian Mortensen; Andrew Pick
Date: 9/26 (Tues.), 12:00-1:15PM
Title: The Lun Bawang Language of Long Semadoh, Lawas, Sarawak; Classifying the Croisilles languages
Abstract 1: Lun Bawang (also called Lun Dayeh or Lundayeh) is an Austronesian language belonging to the North Sarawak subgroup on Borneo, most closely related to Kelabit and Sa’ban, and spoken primarily in the north of Sarawak and Indonesian Kalimantan, with smaller numbers of speakers in Sabah and Brunei. This talk draws on two months of work on the dialect spoken in Long Semadoh, a string of seven villages located along the headwaters of the Trusan River in Sarawak and consists essentially in three parts: (1) an introduction to the location and its residents, (2) a cursory glance at the synchronic phonology of the Long Semadoh dialect, and (3) diachronically-oriented cross-dialectal phonological comparisons.

Abstract 2:

The linguistic ecology of Papua New Guinea, characterized by prevalent multilingualism and an extremely high density of languages in long-standing close contact, has resulted in a situation where languages freely borrow features that have been said to be resistant to borrowing, such as basic vocabulary and pronouns (Foley 2000).  Distinguishing between directly inherited and borrowed material can be especially challenging, presenting an interesting test case for the application of the comparative method.  

This talk concerns a group of around fifty languages in Madang province that Ross (2005) terms the Croisilles linkage.  Using primary data from my own fieldwork, as well as previously published wordlists and dictionaries, I propose a new internal structure for the group based off of shared phonological innovations, and compare this to previous classifications arrived at by other methods.


Foley, W. A. (2000).  The Languages of New Guinea.  Annual Review of Anthropology, 29, 357-404.
Ross, M. (2005). Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages. Papuan pasts: Cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples, 15-65.

Check our website for more information about the speaker and for this semester’s schedule. Contacts: Coordinator, Amy Schafer (aschafer@nullhawaii.edu) & Graduate Assistant, Gyu-Ho Shin (ghshin@nullhawaii.edu).

Tuesday Seminar: A.L. Blake, Peter Schuelke

Speaker: A.L. Blake, Peter Schuelke
Date: 9/19 (Tues.), 12:00-1:15PM
Title: Botanical knowledge of the Abui: a field report; Roviana fieldwork in the Solomon Islands
Abstract 1: When language- and culture- shift is underway, ecological domains of knowledge are in particular danger of being lost (Si 2011). This talk reports on progress in documenting the botanical knowledge of the Abui people of Alor Island, Eastern Indonesia, encoded in the languages of Abui (a threatened non-Austronesian language of the Timor-Alor-Pantar language family), and Alor Malay (an underdescribed Malay-based creole). Topics discussed include interdisciplinary methods of documentation and analysis, nomenclature and ethnotaxonomies, and creation of a community resource.
Abstract 2: Fieldwork in the Solomon Islands is important for both documentary and theoretical reasons. This talk will discuss Solomon Islands fieldwork and then briefly introduce some of its scientific findings. The Solomon Islands is a country with great linguistic diversity, but unfortunately there is very little active documentation of these languages. Documentation of Roviana is a first step. Some of the typological highlights of Roviana include a marked-absolutive case-marking system, exclusive object agreement, symmetrical voice alternations without verbal voice morphology, and novel reflexive binding patterns. This fieldwork likely represents the first formal diagnostics for a Western Solomon language. Perhaps further fieldwork in the Solomon Islands would reveal that there are other languages with patterns similar to those of Roviana.

Check our website for more information about the speaker and for this semester’s schedule. Contacts: Coordinator, Amy Schafer (aschafer@nullhawaii.edu) & Graduate Assistant, Gyu-Ho Shin (ghshin@nullhawaii.edu).

Tuesday Seminar: Dr. Alan King

Speaker: Dr. Alan King
Title: Kotik molmal! Discovering Lenca, a lost language of Central America

Abstract: Two related languages named Lenca were spoken in Honduras and El Salvador until the 20th century near the geographical border between two major cultural and linguistic areas. I will report on a current attempt to “reconstruct” these languages by supplementing standard linguistic analysis of data with clues from “indirect evidence” such as internal coherence, cognate languages, general typological profiling and locally shared areal features. The talk will include discussion of an inferred grammatical element, a topic marking mechanism, which was hypothesized to explain textual forms and may be echoed in an unrelated neighbouring language, Tol, to illustrate the full range of tools available and the importance of areal typology.

Discovering Lenca

Tuesday Seminar: Dr. Chris Davis

Speaker: Dr. Chris Davis (University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa)
Title: Pragmatic competition and evidentiality in Okinawan

Abstract: Okinawan exhibits a three-way evidential contrast with verbs describing past events, as illustrated by the examples in (1), adapted from data in Shinzato (1991):

(1) a. {wanne=e / ‘yaa=ya / are=e} hanahichi=nu kusui  nu-da-n

1s=top / 2s=top / 3s=top  cold=gen  medicine drink-pst-ind

“I took the medicine.”
b. {wanne=e / ‘yaa=ya / are=e} hanahichi=nu kusui  {num-u-ta-n / nu-dee-n}

1s=top / 2s=top / 3s=top  cold=gen  medicine   drink-wit-pst-ind / drink-inf.pst-ind

“He/You took the medicine.” (I saw it happen / It seems)

The simple past (1a) contains no evidential morphology, and is generally restricted to rst-person subjects. The witnessed past and inferential past, by contrast, contain overt evidential morphemes, and are typically incompatible with rst-person subjects, as seen in (1b). I argue that the restriction against simple past tense with second and third person subjects (1a) follows from competition with the two competing evidential past tense forms (1b), which contribute evidential presuppositions (cf. Izvorski 1997, Matthewson et al. 2007, i.a.). With non- rst-person subjects, these two competing evidential-marked forms exhaust the space of su cient evidential grounds for assertion, and the principle of Maximize Presupposition (Heim 1991, Sauerland et al. 2005) in combination with the Gricean Maxim of Quality requires that at least one of them be used. Sentences with rst-person subjects, following Garrett (2001), are typically grounded in ego evidentiality, which includes knowledge of one’s own actions, and does not depend on perception or inference. This licenses the simple past with rst-person subjects, and in combination with the Evidential Hierarchy (Willett) blocks rst-person subjects with evidentially marked forms.

Tuesday Seminar: Catherine Lee & Eve Okura

Speaker: Catherine Lee, Eve Okura
Title: “A Discourse and Grammar Approach to Interaction in Landscape Ontology Elicitation Sessions in Hawai’i;” and “The Status of Language Nests Worldwide

More information to follow.

Tuesday Seminar: Antipassives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective

Speaker: Raina Heaton
Title: Antipassives in cross-linguistic perspective: Reviewing associated claims

Abstract: As part of my dissertation research, I created a typologically oriented database of 445 languages from 144 language families. This database includes information not only on antipassives and antipassive-type features that particular constructions exhibit in these languages, but also on typological characteristics which are relevant to voice, valency, and argument structure. This talk presents broad typological correlations with antipassives to provide a clearer and more diverse picture of the types of languages which have antipassive structures. I also use the database of antipassive constructions to debunk or confirm specific claims which have been made based on less data with respect to antipassives, alignment, valence orientation, basic word order, syntactic ergativity, and switch-reference.

Tuesday Seminar: Special Multi-Speaker Event

1) Speaker: Jonny Kim
Subject: The perception of words stereotypically associated with younger and older Korean speakers

Three findings demonstrate how probabilistic information in language is organized in the cognitive system together with social indices, and how this storage social information affects lexical access. First, words are better recognized when spoken by a talker whose age matches the age associated with the word. Word-stereotypes wield an additional influence on this effect above and beyond that of distribution. Second, recognizing age-associated target words is also influenced by age-neutral talkers; use of an age-related sociolinguistic marker embedded in a preceding utterance, indicating that activation of social exemplars spreads over to guide the processing of a subsequent word. Last (in progress), the effect of congruence between talker age and ‘word age’ is also observed in online processing, as evidenced by eye-tracking data.Therefore, associations are encoded at a representational level, and its effect occurs during lexical access, not as a consequence of post-access integration between acoustic signals and contextual information.

2) Speaker: Alex Smith
Subject: Radical sound change in eastern Borneo: stress shift and vowel expansion in previously undescribed languages

This presentation focuses on two groups of languages found in the East and North Kalimantan provinces of Indonesia, on the island of Borneo, where field work was undertaken during research for my dissertation. These languages exhibit several interesting features not found in most Austronesian languages of Indonesia, including strong word final stress, strikingly large vowel inventories (up to 26 vowels in one case), and interesting historical phonologies. The talk will focus on three languages, Merap, Gaai, and Kelai, but will include data from a few other languages where appropriate. Audio recordings will also be played for the audience, to give attendees a feel for the languages.

3) Speaker: Raina Heaton
Subject: A featural description of antipassive-type structures

In this talk I describe variations on antipassive-type patterns which were observed in a typological survey of 445 languages from all over the world. There were eleven features related to antipassives tracked for the survey, and their interaction describes a wide variety of structures, both antipassive and non-antipassive (at least by most definitions). I begin with a discussion of the features and why they were chosen, and give a basic working definition for antipassive. I then briefly discuss the eight common patterns of features found across the languages in the sample, and provide a series of schematics which illustrate how these features relate to each other. These findings inform our understanding of antipassive-type phenomena, and give us an idea of how frequent different patterns are across a genetically and geographically diverse sample.

4) Speaker: Amber Camp
Subject: Tone-intonation interaction in context in Thai

The acoustic realization of lexical tone is influenced by sentence-level intonation. For example, F0 measurements show that a phonologically falling tone in Thai differs in sentence-medial and sentence-final contexts. Sentence finally, when it is overlaid with a falling intonational contour, F0 falls further and begins its decline at an earlier timepoint than when in sentence-medial position. This categorical perception study, which includes identification and discrimination tasks, uses two nine-step continua of target words created with naturally produced lexical tone endpoints, presented within two different naturally produced sentence frames. These tasks investigate the perception of high and falling tones in sentence-medial and sentence-final positions in Thai to probe whether intonation on the sentence level influences perception of tones. The results shed light on the interaction of tone and intonation in the perception of natural speech, and offer insight into the mechanism with which language users process suprasegmental information.

Tuesday Seminar: Multilingualism As It Unfolds

Speaker:Dr. Emmanuel Ngué Um, Endangered Languages Project & University of Yaoundé

Subject: Multilingualism as it unfolds; on-line mapping of language repertoire in five-hour naturally occurring conversation among Bati (btc) female speakers.


More details to follow!

Austronesian Comparative Dictionary: New Search function

Re the audience’s feedback at the Tuesday Seminar talk on 2/21, Steve Trussel has added a search form to the Austronesian Comparative Dictionary. The search is set to do: Introduction, Cognate Sets, Formosan, Roots, Loans, Near Comparisons, and Noise. There are search forms at the top of all pages in those sections. Any feedback is welcome. For feedback on production of the website, please email Steven Trussel. For feedback on the content, please email Robert Blust.

Please find a screenshot below:

螢幕快照 2017-03-05 上午9.24.47 - Yen-hsin Chen