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

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.

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).