Abstracts of Presenters

L’Union Fait la Force: An Account of Vowel Harmony in Laurentian French Using Harmonic Grammar

Isabelle Ladouceur-Séguin, University of Ottawa

High vowel laxing in Laurentian French (as spoken in the province of Quebec, Canada) is one of the most well-known phonological rules in this dialect. It has been noted that the laxing process tends to overgeneralize, which has led Poliquin (2006) to posit a regular process of vowel harmony. In this presentation, I will outline a different account of non-word-final vowel laxing, based on Harmonic Grammar, which successfully excludes words in which vowel harmony never occurs, and which favors words that are likely to be laxed given a medium or high frequency of use.

 

Language Exposure Modulates the Role of Tone in Perception and Long-Term Memory: Evidence from Cantonese Native and Heritage Speakers

Rachel Soo and Philip J. Monahan, University of Toronto Scarborough

Little is known about how heritage speakers (HS) of tone-languages encode tonal contrasts in their L1. We tested Cantonese native speakers (NS) and HS using a medium-distance repetition priming (MDRP) paradigm, and a tone discrimination and production experiment. In the MDRP, participants made a lexical decision to Cantonese non-/words which were repeated or followed by their corresponding minimal pair 8-20 trials later. Results from these three experiments suggest that 1) HS may not possess robust tone cues in long-term memory, 2) contour is more robust than pitch in differentiating tone, and 3) language background has little effect on tone production.

 

Laquelle des Questions en Quelle Circonstance: an Investigation of French Question Quantifers

Jonathan Anders, University of Alabama at Birmingham

This paper examines differences in structure between two french wh-words: "quel" and "lequel." Though these quantifiers differ in internal structure and complement structure, this paper nonetheless aims to show that they derive from a common base, by relating them to larger patterning differences in French quantifiers in general. French quantifiers seem to be able to take either bare NP complements or complements of the form des+NP/DP. The appearance of a des+NP/DP complement seems in some cases correlated with an internal change in the quantifier. This paper aims to show that variation between "quel" and "lequel" can be accounted for by assimilating them to a similar pattern of variation observable in other French quantifiers

 

Wh-Continuation: A Neglected Puzzle

Lydia Werthen, University of California, Santa Cruz

The term ‘wh-continuation’ describes a phenomenon in which a genuine information-seeking question is asked through the form of an in-situ wh-expression (e.g. Speaker A: I need some time to think about this./Speaker B: Think about what?). Being both prosodically and semantically distinct from echo questions, these constructions raise a few issues regarding current syntactic theories about true interrogatives and wh-movement. In my investigation, I seek to identify the syntactic processes that make such constructions as productive as they are, examining both the necessity of root C and the possibilities made available by the Minimalist Program.

 

Gendered Language Acquisition by Second Language Speakers of Japanese

Genesis Clark-Inman, Michigan State University

 

A lemma-based approach for English-Uyghur statistical machine translation

Aaron Mueller, University of Kentucky

Current machine translation systems are built almost solely for languages possessing great amounts of immediately accessible or easily gatherable parallel data. However, there exist many languages for which resources are sparse; Uyghur—a Turkic language spoken natively by 10.4 million individuals in northwestern China and eastern Kazakhstan—is an example. Using small monolingual and manually-aligned parallel corpora provided by DARPA's Low-Resource Languages for Emergent Incidents (LORELEI) committee, a lemma-based Uyghur-English translation model was constructed. The addition of the lemma-based model to my team's larger translation system increased BLEU scores—calculated by the LORELEI committee using withheld data—by approximately 65%.

 

Quantifying Phonetic Variation in Heritage Speakers: Modeling Dialect through Vowel Formant Patterns

Lyndon Rey, University of Western Ontario

This work is a description of a methodology that can be used to measure probabilistic variation across large corpora of natural spoken languages. This methodology is chasing the goal of modelling how a speaker from a certain dialect group probably speaks– what are the phonetic patterns they are most likely to show, and can we differentiate and categorize unknown samples using these models created from natural language? This work uses Heritage Language Variation and Change Corpus (University of Toronto); models have been created for both Italian and Faetar homeland and heritage speakers.

 

A Study on Back Vowel Merger in New York City English

Steven Arriaga, The College of Staten Island of the City University of New York (CUNY)

As part of the Corpus of New York City English (CoNYCE) project, this research analyzes the possible merger of the three low back vowels found in lot [ɑ], thought [ɔ], and palm [ɑ:]. Newman (2014) indicates that there is a distinction between these vowels among New York City English speakers. However, three other possible vowel systems are also established. This study comprises two interviews recorded between August and September 2016 of two native NYC English speakers with similar demographics. This study determines whether these speakers exhibit a low back vowel merger, which may indicate a general NYC English vowel merger.

 

An Investigation of the Linguistic Properties of Emoji

Emma Reidy, Emory University Department of Linguistics

Since their rise to popularity over recent years, claims have emerged that emoji constitute their own language, with no substantiation that they meet linguistic classification requirements. This study investigates whether emoji have become their own language, or whether they are simply pictorial representations of a previously established language. The study uses a two-part survey to determine the emoji usage habits of students on both individual and sentence levels through translation, both from emoji to English and vice versa. Word ordering and sentence organization are also analyzed. This is a presentation of ongoing research, and preliminary conclusions will be shared.

 

Diachronic perspectives on word order variation

Calahan Janik-Jones, University of Toronto


Previous analyses (Taylor and Pintzuk, 2012) of the shift from the verb-second (V2) word order system in Old English to the SVO word order in Modern English have recognized the constraints that information structure and syntactic complexity play. However, real-time data for Old English has not yet been aggregated. Using the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a dated history of the country during its early periods (approx. 900–1100 CE), I collected diachronic data on the emergence of the innovative VO form in late Old English, and explicate the precise syntactic constraints on the new order and suggest underlying syntactic representations of the variation.

 

Nasal harmony in Mostec Slovenian

Mia Sara Misic, Vivian (Zhiyao) Che, Fernanda Lara Peralta, University of Toronto

This paper presents nasal harmony data in Mostec Slovenian obtained instrumentally in the field. Our analysis shows that the set of harmony triggers is cross-linguistically unique. Toporišič (1981, 2009) first described nasal harmony as bidirectional, triggered by the nasal palatal glide, and targeting adjacent vowels. We conducted two experiments using a nasalance mask to record real and nonce words. Our findings suggest that the nasal palatal glide is indeed a trigger (but nasal sonorant stops are not), vowels and sonorants are targets, and that nasal harmony is bidirectional. This is the first instrumentally confirmed case of nasal harmony in Slavic.

 

Vowel Length Discrimination and Learning of Japanese Vowels

Gabrielle Manning and Marissa Griese, University of Ottawa

Twenty-three participants between the ages of 17-22 with no previous exposure to Japanese or a language containing vowel lengthening were tested. Participants were exposed to six Japanese words with 3 minimal pairs. Each minimal pair contained a word with a short vowel as well as a word with a long vowel, the vowel, whether long or short remained the same. An AX task, training period, and picture task were used to determine whether or not the difference in vowel length can be learned.

 

Production benefits recall of novel words with frequent, but not infrequent phonotactic probabilities

Keara Boyce, Zeinab Kahin, Stephanie Strahm, Tania Zamuner, University of Ottawa

The production effect refers to the increased ability for individuals to recall words that are produced aloud during training than words that are heard-only, mouthed, or silently read. The current study looks to investigate how the production effect manifests within a language by using non-words containing phonemes that vary in phonological frequency. The findings suggest that although infrequent sounds pattern differently than frequent sounds, they are not treated in the same way as non-native sounds within the mental lexicon. This may indicate that production creates a distinctive link in short term memory for words containing frequent phonemes. 

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