Tuesday Seminar Series – Fall 2016 Archive

Overview (Click on links to jump to abstracts below.)

  • Aug. 23, 2016 & Aug. 30, 2016
    No seminar scheduled
  • Sept. 20, 2016
    No seminar scheduled
  • Nov. 8, 2016
    No seminar scheduled



Aug. 23 2016 & Aug. 30 2016

No seminar scheduled


Sept. 6, 2016

Speaker: Andrew Pick (Linguistics)
Title: The Linguistic Landscape of Gildipasi

Abstract: In this two-part talk, I first give an overview of languages of Gildipasi, a community in Madang Providence, Papua New Guinea, and then outline an unusual system of verbal agreement in Qkuan Kambuar, one of these languages.

Gildipasi is a linguistically diverse community of several villages in coastal Madang, with at least eight distinct languages found within a few hours’ walking distance. In the first part of this talk, I give an overview of the community and its languages, and discuss factors affecting their vitality.

In the second half of this talk I describe the system of agreement in Qkuan Kambuar, the most endangered of the Gildipasi languages, with only a handful of speakers. Most intransitive and monotransitive verbs in Qkuan Kambuar agree with only one argument (the subject). Given that most verbs typically do not agree with the additional (non-subject) argument of a monotransitive construction, it is surprising to find that there is agreement with one of the two non-subject arguments of a ditransitive construction.

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Speaker: Dr. Kaliko Baker (UHM-Kaiwaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language)
Title: A-Class Genitive Subject Effect: A Pragmatic and Discourse Grammar Approach to A- and O-Class Genitive Subject Selection in Hawaiian

Abstract: This talk explores genitive class selection of genitive case subjects in nominalizations and relative clauses in Hawaiian. The amount of research in the area of Hawaiian’s a– and o-class is far from sufficient. Since Wilson (1976a), there has been minimal critical new inquiry to a– and o-class in Hawaiian. Genitives in Hawaiian are normally analyzed as possessives first, and every other use thereafter. I will illustrate here that the genitive class has two usages, subject marking and possession. I approach genitive subjects by looking at genitive subject selection and then provide sample applications of the findings to possession. To arrive at the findings, we explore syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and discourse factors. Our first finding here illustrates that the a– and o-class genitive subject relationship is not dichotomous. O-class is the unmarked category since it occurs in every subject category. A-class is the marked category. Our second finding is that a-class is used only with agentive subjects and marks the subjects as essential and/or foreground information within a narrative context. The findings ultimately illustrate that a-class selection is based on pragmatic and discourse needs as determined by the speaker, where a-class marking is used to express that some genitive subject’s action is important to the narrative and its progression.

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No seminar scheduled


Speaker: Sveta Stoytcheva (Humanities Librarian, Hamilton Library)
Title: Library Resources for Linguists

Abstract: Leading this workshop will be Sveta Stoytcheva, Humanities Librarian at Hamilton and library liaison to the linguistics department. Sveta will be presenting an overview of UHM’s library resources for advanced researchers in linguistics, and will cover topics like Linguistics resources, using the Pacific Collection, Google Scholar, Interlibrary Loan, ScholarSpace, and more. She will also leave some time for open-ended discussion, so bring your questions and suggestions!Please come if you are new to the field, new to the department/campus, or just would like to become more familiar with the resources available to us. This is our second year inviting Sveta to give this workshop, and last year’s attendees found it really useful– come and learn something new, even if you think you know the library resources well!

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Speaker: Victoria Chen (Linguistics)
Title: An Accusative Analysis of the Philippine-Type System and its Implication for Austronesian Primary-Level Subgrouping

Abstract: In this talk, I will revisit the nature of the Philippine-type voice system, which is key to two longstanding questions in Austronesian syntax: 1) the alignment of Philippine-type languages, and 2) the nature of Austronesian nominalizer/voice affix (N/V) homophony. The analysis of these two questions directly affects whether the putative alignment change from accusative to ergative (Starosta 1995, Aldridge 2016) and the proposed innovation “nominalization-into-verb” (Starosta, Pawley, and Reid 1981, Ross 2009, Aldridge 2016) are valid criteria for Austronesian primary-level subgrouping.

This presentation will take a detailed look at three constructions in morphologically conservative Philippine-type languages: syntactic causative, ditransitive, and transitive clauses with a “non-core” phrase as the pivot, whose elaborate case patterns turn out to be a useful proving ground for the alignment and Case-licensing mechanism in Philippine-type languages. I will demonstrate how evidence from these three constructions motivates a unitary accusative analysis of the Philippine-type voice system. Building on this analysis, I will argue that both the putative alignment change and the presence or absence of N/V homophony are not valid criteria for Austronesian primary-level subgrouping.

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Speaker: Dr. Tyler Heston (Linguistics)
Title: The Intonational Grammar of Fataluku

Abstract: In this presentation, I present an overview of the intonational grammar of Fataluku, describing the language’s prosodic organization and the phonetic manifestation of phrasing in both f0 and non-f0 dimensions. Fataluku (ISO 639-3 ddg) is a Papuan language spoken in Timor Leste, a member of the Timor-Alor-Pantar language family (Lewis et al. 2016, Schapper et al. 2014). I present Fataluku’s intonational system from the perspective of the autosegmental-metrical (AM) theory of intonational phonology (Ladd 1996/2008, Pierrehumbert 1980), a popular approach to prosody which sees intonational contours as composed of discrete tonal targets aligned with strong syllables or prosodic edges. I focus here on the behavior of the intonational phrase—a unit corresponding roughly to a “complete” intonational contour—and the accentual phrase—a unit intermediate between the word and the intonational phrase. I describe Fataluku’s overall prosodic organization, the characteristics of each prosodic level, and the ways in which functional phonetic factors modulate the realization of underlying tonal targets.

Ladd, D. Robert. 1996. Intonational phonology. (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 79). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ladd, D. Robert. 2008. Intonational phonology. 2nd ed. (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 79). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons & Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2016. Fataluku. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 19th ed. Dallas, TX: SIL International. www.ethnologue.com.
Pierrehumbert, Janet. 1980. The phonology and phonetics of English intonation. MIT PhD Thesis. Distributed 1988, Indiana University Linguistics Club.
Schapper, Antoinette, Juliette Huber & Aone van Engelenhoven. 2014. The relatedness of Timor-Kisar and Alor-Pantar languages: A preliminary demonstration. In Marian Klamer (ed.), The Alor-Pantar languages: History and typology, 99–154. (Studies in Diversity Linguistics 3). Berlin: Language Science Press. https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/28748 (15 October, 2014).

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Talk 1 Speaker: Alex Smith (Linguistics)
Talk 1 Title: A Beginner’s Guide to Languages of Borneo

Talk 1 Abstract: This talk has three aims; to familiarize the audience with basic fact about the languages of Borneo, with a special focus on comparative linguistics, to talk briefly about some interesting phonological phenomena which are found throughout the island, and to provide an overview of some changes in subgrouping, based on fieldwork carried out for my dissertation. The presentation is meant to inform listeners on some of more interesting facts regarding the languages of Borneo.

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Talk 2 Speaker: Kevin Baetscher (Linguistics)
Talk 2 Title: Suprasegmental Contrast in Philippine Languages

Talk 2 Abstract: Phonemic stress has been described as a distinctive feature of Philippine languages (e.g. Zorc 1979, Blust 2013). Related Austronesian languages in the North (Taiwan) and South (Indonesia) mostly have predictable stress patterns. In general, phonemic stress is rather rare in the Austronesian language family. Yet, there has been disagreement (or often just uncertainty) over whether phonemicity lies in stress or in vowel length for some languages (Espiritu 1984, Forman 1971, Gonzalez 1970, Schachter & Otanes 1972 vs. French 1988, Zorc 1972 vs. Zorc 1979). In this talk, I present evidence from Ilokano, Kapampangan, and Tagalog to argue that vowel length is in fact the underlying feature, with stress being predictively dependent on it. Phonemic length is much less marked within the Austronesian family, and paralleled e.g. in Oceanic languages.

The historical origin of the length distinction in Philippine languages is another question. Since languages from different sub-groups show intriguing agreement in length placement, the common parent language Proto-Philippine must be reconstructed with this feature (Zorc 1986, Blust 2013). However, I demonstrate that although noun cognates often show cross-linguistic agreement, verb cognates are more problematic in this respect. I argue that this disagreement is due to morphological length placement alternations, and support this with synchronic data from Hiligaynon, where such alternations are common.

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Talk 1 Speaker: Raina Heaton (Linguistics)
Talk 1 Title: Investigating Variability in Kaqchikel Focus Constructions

Talk 1 Abstract: This presentation conveys the results of a series of four picture elicitation tasks conducted by the author in summer 2016 on Kaqchikel (Mayan). This work follows up on previous work which found that syntactic ergativity in Kaqchikel is not uniform, with relativization patterning more along nominative-accusative lines, and wh-questions maintaining the ergative pattern. The studies to be presented here looked at four more contexts known to exhibit some degree of syntactic ergativity: subject focus constructions using “only”, indefinite subjects “a/an”, negative subjects “no one”, and nonspecific subjects “exist”. The aim of these studies was to discern 1. if most speakers feel a transitive verb may be exchanged for the focus from in these contexts, without a significant change in meaning, 2. if a focus or antipassive construction is in fact the primary form used in these contexts, and 3. if there is any age-grading, indicating incipient changes in the language.

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Talk 2 Speaker: Bryn Hauk (Linguistics)
Talk 2 Title: Fieldwork in Georgia: Status Report on a Batsbi Documentation Project

Talk 2 Abstract: This presentation is a status report for a pilot documentation project on Batsbi [bbl], a Nakh-Dagestanian language of Zemo Alvani, Georgia. I will discuss the plans I had, before departing for fieldwork, to explore unanswered phonological and morphological questions about the language, and I will discuss the process and results of fieldwork with this community. I will also report some preliminary observations about pharyngeal consonants and “intensive” consonants in Batsbi.

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Speaker: Dr. Eric Mathieu (Associate Professor, Dept. of Linguistics, University of Ottowa)
Title: On the status and structure of “words”: The case of nouns incorporation

Abstract: It is often claimed that polysynthetic or aboriginal languages have very long words. The aim of this talk is to show that this is a myth. Like the myth “Eskimo languages have 50 words for snow”, the proposition that such languages have very long words is either false or needs qualifying: it really depends what one means by “long words”!

I will be arguing on the basis of Ojibwe, an Algonquian language spoken in parts of Canada and in parts of the United-States, that very “long words” are, in fact, regular, independent, free (not bound) words as found in English or French. Most of the “polysynthesis” that we see in Algonquian languages is thus just an illusion, which means that the proposition that polysynthetic languages necessarily have many derivations that involve “lots of morphology” is false. Such languages have a regular syntax, but ubiquitous cliticization (as in Italian and spoken French). This means that nominal incorporation is not so different from pseudo noun-incorporation found in Austronesian languages.

More generally, one of my main goals is to argue that, contrary to received wisdom, words are not primitives. The notion of “word” is a metalinguistic concept, not a linguistic or scientific one.

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Talk 1 Speaker: Anna Belew (Linguistics)
Talk 1 Title: Investigating the Sociolinguistic Context of Iyasa: Vitality, Attitudes, and Repertoires

Talk 1 Abstract: Traditional language documentation has largely focused on the documentation of linguistic structure: syntax, phonology, morphology, and lexicon, as idealized in the “Boasian Trilogy” of documentary products. This talk will outlines the notion of “sociolinguistic language documentation,” and discusses methods used to investigate sociolinguistic issues in the context of Iyasa, an endangered Bantu language of Cameroon. Findings on Iyasa’s vitality, speaker attitudes, local language ideologies, and patterns of multilingualism will be presented alongside an assessment of endangerment factors which threaten the language.

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Talk 2 Speaker: Meagan Dailey (Linguistics)
Talk 2 Title: A Phonetic Analysis of Mokilese Orthographic ‘j’

Talk 2 Abstract: This presentation is a progress report on research conducted during Summer 2016 on Mokilese orthographic ‘j’. According to Harrison (1976), ‘j’ is unpredictably realized as /ʃ/, /tʃ/, or /c/ by speakers. Over the summer the author collected word lists focusing on this phoneme in different contexts for the purpose of phonetic analysis to determine if there are any conditioning factors for the variation. This talk discusses the data collected and the author’s preliminary analysis.

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No seminar scheduled


Talk 1 Speaker: Ryan Henke (Linguistics)
Talk 1 Title: Nakota pilot trip

Talk 1 Abstract: This presentation summarizes details from my pilot research trip to Alberta, Canada. The overarching goal of my summer project was the creation of a report on the potential for linguistic research at Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation (ANSN), a First Nations community about 50 miles from what is now Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Over the course of eight weeks, I spent time at ANSN to introduce myself and get to know some people within the community, laying the ground for future research.

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Talk 2 Speaker: Claire Stabile (Linguistics)
Talk 2 Title: Cross linguistic priming – what is being primed?

Talk 2 Abstract: This is a progress report on my ongoing research into cross linguistic priming of the Mandarin bei construction. Data was collected from 28 participants this summer using an improved experimental design. Data translation and analysis are ongoing.

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Talk 3 Speaker: Kavon Hooshiar (Linguistics)
Talk 3 Title: An initial look at Manirem, also known as Betaf (bfe) and Vitou (vto)

Talk 3 Abstract: This is an initial look at the language called Manirem by its speakers in the villages of Betaf and Takar in Sarmi Regency, Papua, Indonesia. Based on data from an initial trip to Sarmi Regency in 2016 I will discuss preliminary evidence for the language’s status, phonemic inventory, and morphological structure. Betaf (bte) is an original language in the ISO 639-3 series and Vitou (vto) was added in 2007, with an alternate name Takar. Betaf and Vitou are grouped as a sub-family under Coastal Tor in the Tor-Orya family by Glottolog (Hammarström, 2016). Residents of both districts refer to their language by the name Manirem and say they understand each other. To date, insufficient data has been published to determine the status of these two varieties relative to each other. I will report on initial differences observed. Additionally, I will present initial findings for the phonemic inventory and morphology in comparison to Berik, the most-researched language in the Tor sub-family (Westrum, 1988).

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Talk 1 Speaker: Brad Rentz (Linguistics)
Talk 1 Title: Language Attitudes of Pohnpei: A Quantitative Introduction

Talk 1 Abstract: I present the early quantitative results of my summer research on the language attitudes of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. For this project, 141 Pohnpei residents (0.6% of total population) responded to a 141 question paper survey that asked a variety of questions about their language usage and attitudes. The quantitative analyses used in this study include exploratory factor analysis and weighted Bayesian hierarchical modeling. I also discuss survey data preparation methods such as the SDAPS software for paper survey OMR, missing data imputation, and poststratification survey weights.

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Talk 2 Speaker: Grant Muagututia (Linguistics)
Talk 2 Title: Ergativity in Samoan Heritage Language

Talk 2 Abstract: Ergativity in heritage language has unfortunately received scant attention in the literature. What little research we do have has shown that ergativity is a fragile feature, often disproportionately lacking in the grammar of heritage speakers. This was the case for Dyribal (Schmidt 1985) and Hindi (Montrul et. al. 2012) heritage language. In this talk, I hope to contribute to this literature by presenting data collected over the summer in Southern California investigating morphological and syntactic ergativity in Samoan heritage language. The results of two elicitation tasks revealed that heritage speakers of Samoan exhibit extremely low production rates for both morphological (i.e. case) and syntactic (i.e. relative clauses) ergativity in comparison with adult native speakers. I will discuss the implications of these finding as well as propose directions for further research.

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Talk 1 Speaker: Dr. Hiroko Sato (NEH & NSF Fellow, Linguistics & East-West Center)
Talk 1 Title: An unusual marital distinction marker in Akolet

Talk 1 Abstract: Akolet (Austronesian, Papua New Guinea) has personal pronouns and noun markers that distinguish gender and marital status, e.g., ‘unmarried 3sg masculine’ versus ‘married 3sg masculine’. While singular pronouns mark both gender and marital status, plural pronouns mark gender only for married people. Given that the choice of pronouns and noun markers depends on social status and societal role, these pronouns and noun markers denote how a person contributes to the life of a community, rather than simply indicating marital status. This analysis suggests that some aspects of linguistic structure cannot be understood outside the cultural context of language use.

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Talk 2 Speaker: Peter Schuelke (Linguistics)
Talk 2 Title: Fantastic Roviana Morphosyntax!

Talk 2 Abstract: Roviana is an Austronesian language of the Solomon Islands spoken by approximately 6,000-10,000 people. Roviana displays a typologically peculiar system of grammatical relations. Roviana has an ergative pattern to its case marking; however it defies typological predictions my by only overtly marking the absolutive. Roviana verbs index the object, but neither the transitive nor intransitive subject is indexed on the verb. Roviana has two transitive word orders and in one of them it indicates the ergative argument through consistent null-marking, while in the other it indicates the ergative through constituent order. Finally, the transitive subject alternations are potentially best analyzed as symmetrical voice alternations. The symmetrical voice system of Roviana is unique in the typology of symmetrical voice for various reasons including the lack of articulated verbal morphology, novel marking of non-pivot subjects, and a morphologically ergative pattern in both voices.

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Speaker: John Elliot (Linguistics)
Title: Issues in Enlhet-Enenlhet Historical Linguistics

Abstract: The Enlhet-Enenlhet language family (aka Maskoyan) is a small group of related languages spoken in the Paraguayan Chaco, and is one of the more understudied language families in lowland South America. Using data collected during a summer 2016 field visit, this talk discusses the historical linguistics of the family, dealing especially with issues of subgrouping and changes in ethno-linguistic affiliation since contact and missionization at the end of the 19th century. I also look at some typologically interesting features of the family and give a general report from my 2016 fieldwork.

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