Itxaso Rodríguez-Ordóñez @ LVC on Friday, December 4th

Friday, December 4th @ 3:00PM in Rosenwald 301

Understanding Basque Differential Object Marking from Typological, Contact and Attitudinal perspectives

Itxaso Rodríguez-Ordóñez
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Differential Object Marking (DOM) has enjoyed abundant scholarly interest insomuch as theoretical explanations of its key parameters (Aissen 2003; Malchukov and Swart 2008; Hoop and Swart 2007), language-specific constraints (Leonetti 2004; Seifart 2012; Sinnemaki 2014) and synchronic and diachronic accounts in various languages (Morimoto and Swart 2004; Robertson 2007). However, less attention has been paid to the role that language contact plays in the emergence of DOM or the processes that lead to its variable use in contact settings. Basque DOM has been characterized as the product of intense contact with Basque-Spanish leísmo (Austin 2006; Rodríguez-Ordóñez, 2015), but its variable use and the role that attitudes play in its use remain understudied.

Using spontaneous speech of 70 Basque-Spanish bilinguals and 19 Basque-French bilinguals in combination of experimental techniques on production and perception, I provide evidence to the argument that Basque DOM involves a process of replica grammaticalization (Heine and Kuteva 2010) in which contact features and typological constraints work interactively, particularly dependent upon the language dominance of the speaker. The low use among L2 speakers is explained through the attitudinal results; Basque DOM is considered ‘defective’ and ‘non-authentic’ in Standard Basque, the variety of L2 and early sequential bilinguals. It is proposed that these speakers do not use Basque DOM so that their ‘authentic Basque identity’ is not fully questioned.

The present study builds upon theoretical and methodological implications: first, it argues that a multi-disciplinary study of contact-phenomena advances our theory on the interplay of language as ‘human faculty’ and ‘social competence’ in which bilinguals engage in a linguistic task that involve cognitive processing mechanisms and the ability to implement societal norms (Matras 2010). Second, it advocates for the formal study of language attitudes as an integrated part of a theory of contact-linguistics.

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Ross Burkholder @ LVC & LCC on Friday, November 13th

Friday, November 13th @ 3:00 PM in Rosenwald 301

Language use in MOBA Gaming Communities

Ross Burkholder
University of Chicago

In this talk I discuss a recent project investigating language use in Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games, focusing in particular on language use in the community surrounding the game DOTA 2. During the course of this talk I hope to describe, compare, and highlight specific areas of language use in MOBAs.

Describe: What kind of language is being used in-game?
– How do variables effect individuals language use?
– How has language use changed over time?

Compare: How does the register used in MOBA games compare to…
– Other MOBAs?
– Other online gaming communities?
– Other computer mediated language?

Highlight: How does the multilingual nature of the community effect language use?
– What strategies are used when no mutual language is available?
– How are responses to multilingualism framed and formed?

In order to answer these questions, this study makes use of a small (but growing) corpus of game replay files, looking at various frequencies, concordances, and collocations. As this project is in the beginning phases, there will be more emphasis during the talk on the formulation of research questions, and the methodologies used in order to answer them, than on the presentation of results. Discussion of all aspects of this project is strongly encouraged.

Posted in computational, language contact, linguistic anthropology, student talks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kathryn Franich @ LVC on Friday, November 6th!

Friday, November 6th @ 3:00PM in Rosenwald 301

Intrinsic and Contextual Cues to Tone Perception In Medʉmba
(or: A How-To Guide for Doing Phonetics Experiments in the Field)

Kathryn Franich
University of Chicago

In this talk, I discuss results of experimental work on tone perception in Medʉmba, a Grassfields Bantu language spoken in Cameroon. The following research questions were investigated:

1) What kinds of acoustic cues are relevant to the perception of tones in this language?
2) Is tone perception sensitive to pitch information from the surrounding context? And if so, is perception sensitive to contextual information from non-speech sounds as well as speech sounds?

Results indicate that both F0 and duration are important cues to tone perception, but that the influence of duration was strongest where target F0 values were low. This finding is in-line with previous cross-linguistic work showing interactions between duration perception and tone and is thought to arise through a compensatory mechanism on the part of speakers to normalize for F0-related perceptual or articulatory biases (Yu 2011, Gussenhoven & Zhou 2013).

Results also indicate that perception of tones on target syllables was influenced by the tone of the syllable in the previous trial within the experimental block. Interestingly, preceding non-speech tones did not influence perception, suggesting that the observed contextual effect was specific to linguistic stimuli, rather than attributable to domain-general auditory processing effects, as has been suggested by Huang & Holt (2009; 2011).

In describing the experiment, I provide a play-by-play of its design and execution to highlight ways in which typical laboratory setups can be adapted for a fieldwork setting. In particular, I focus on subject recruitment, stimuli creation and presentation, pilot-testing, and the use of computers for data collection in contexts where subjects are not accustomed to them.

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Updated Schedule for Fall 2015

LVC is pleased to announce the following updated schedule for our remaining talks of the Fall quarter. All will be held on Fridays from 3:00-4:30 in Rosenwald 301.

November 6th: Kathryn Franich (University of Chicago)
“Intrinsic and Contextual Cues to Tone Perception In Medʉmba (or: A How-To Guide for Doing Phonetics Experiments in the Field)”

November 13th: Ross Burkholder (University of Chicago) – Joint with LCC
“Language Use in MOBA Gaming Communities”

December 4th:Itxaso Rodríguez-Ordóñez (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
“Understanding Basque Differential Object Marking from Typological, Contact and Attitudinal perspectives”

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LVC Schedule for Fall 2015

For the Fall 2015 quarter, LVC is pleased to announce the following talks and workshops. All will be held on Fridays from 3:00-4:30 in Rosenwald 301.

October 9th: Fieldwork recap session, part one (members of the Chicago linguistics dept.)

October 30th: Fieldwork recap session, part two (members of the Chicago linguistics dept.)

November 6th: ELAN workshop featuring Jordan Fenlon & Jon Keane (University of Chicago)

December 4th: Itxaso Rodriguez (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Title TBA

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Complementary indexicalities: gaze, pointing, and conversational scaffolding in an emerging sign language


In this workshop presentation, I will introduce “Z” (Zinacantec Family Homesign), an emerging first generation sign language from a Tzotzil (Mayan) speaking community in Chiapas, Mexico, and the ways I have tried to study it over the past seven years or so. I will concentrate on the structure of attention in Z conversation and the foundational importance of two general formal devices for managing mutual attention: pointing and gaze. Adapting somewhat Du Bois’ aphorism (1985) that “grammars code best what speaker do most” I will sketch very briefly some of my own previous work on the grammaticalization of attention in Z, turning, as time permits, to evidence in the signing and socialization of the first (and perhaps only) second generation signer of standards of well-formedness and the formal regimentation of mutual attention as central to the emergence of this new language.



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