Indiana University

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Events for the week :
November 25, 2012 - December 01, 2012
November 25
November 26
  • The 'new' ecology of language: Some critical thoughts on ecolinguistics

    Time: 05:00pm - 06:30pm 

    Place: Indiana Memorial Hall (IMU) Frangipani Room


    John Edwards (St. Francis Xavier University)

    As a focus of study, ecology emphasizes the holistic study of environments, with both beneficial and inimical interrelationships among plants, animals and, indeed, inorganic surroundings. The extension of this idea to language is particularly associated with the late Einar Haugen (circa 1972). His intent was to emphasize the interconnectedness of languages with their environments, with particular regard to status and function. Unfortunately, however, the breadth of the ecology-of-language view has been progressively reduced, and the label of ecology increasingly co-opted. Much that is written under the rubric of ecology now argues for pacific language interaction, instead of a more brutal social Darwinism, presenting a sense of a world in which there is room for all languages. This is a kinder and gentler picture, but is it always accurate?


    In category: Sociolinguistics and pragmatics


November 27
  • Building a parallel, annotated corpus: English and Late Latin

    Time: 12:00pm - 01:00pm 

    Place: Memorial Hall 401


    Olga Scrivner and Eric Baucom

    This study describes the implementation of a resource-light approach, cross-language transfer, to build a parallel English-Latin annotated corpus.

    Our data come from a Late Latin text ”Peregrinatio Aetheriae” (Pilgrimage of Etheria), written at the end of the 4th century. This document is one of the latest attestations of Latin, displaying some characteristics of Romance languages: i) the increasing frequency of Subject-Verb-Object word order, compared to Subject-Object-Verb order in Classical Latin (Bauer, 1995) (1); ii) the rise of overt neutral pronominal subjects (2), among other features. Therefore, syntactic annotation of such corpus would be a very useful tool for Historical Linguistics. In addition, a parallel-aligned Latin-English corpus would enable researchers without prior knowledge of Latin to use and understand this text.

    (1) sic benedicet fideles...
    then blesses faithful...
    ‘then he blesses the faithful’

    (2) intrat intra cancellos intra Anastasim, id est intra speluncam
    enters into rails in Anastasis, it is in cave
    ‘he enters within the rails in the Anastasis, that is in the cave’

    The compilation of our corpus consisted of several phases. The first phase included paragraph alignment, tokenization, and sentence alignment. The second step was the word alignment. Word alignment is extremely challenging due to the free word order in Latin, as opposed to English. We used Berkeley aligner (Liang et al., 2006), supplemented by a Latin-English dictionary (FreeLang). Both texts being aligned, we then proceeded to parsing annotation. Since dependency relations “deal especially well with languages involving relatively free word order” (Bamman and Crane, 2011), such as Latin; we have parsed English via a dependency MaltParser (Nivre et al., 2007), trained on Penn Treebank (Marcus et al., 1993). Finally, the dependency relations were transferred from English to Latin via the alignments.

    While the annotations in a historical corpus require high accuracy, we have shown that we can start building corpus by using resource-light methods, such as cross-language transfer.


    In category: Computational linguistics


  • Multilingualism: Understanding linguistic diversity

    Time: 04:00pm - 05:30pm 

    Place: Indiana Memorial Hall (IMU) Georgian Room


    John Edwards (St. Francis Xavier University)

    The general intent of this lecture is two-fold. The first goal is to present an outline picture of global linguistic diversity, with some of its important ramifications and consequences. The second goal is to point out that the most compelling aspects of this diversity are not linguistic at all. They have to do, rather, with the symbolic and group-identity-marking features of language.


    In category: Sociolinguistics and pragmatics


November 28
  • English does not have resumptive pronouns: A cross-sentential account of 'resumption' in English

    Time: 05:30pm - 07:00pm 

    Place: Swain East (SE) 240


    Lauren Clemens (Harvard University)

    The claim that resumptive pronouns (RPs) ameliorate island violations in English has informed various syntactic theories of movement (Chomsky 1993, Boeckx 2003, McCloskey 2006, Bošković and Nunes 2007). Yet, experimentalists have converged on the finding that RPs in English are rated equal to or worse than illicit gaps in island contexts (Alexopoulou and Keller 2007, Heestand et al 2011 and Polinsky et al 2012). We present the first auditory experiment on the acceptability of English RPs in islands. Our results show that i) even in spoken language, the medium where they most naturally occur, RPs do not improve the acceptability of island violations, and ii) English RPs do not facilitate listener comprehension of island violations.

    Even though speakers reject RPs, they still use them with surprising frequency. We approach this paradox from the perspective that RPs are simply referential pronouns that refer to contextually salient antecedents (see also Kroch 1981, Prince 1990, Erteshik-Shir 1992, and Cann et al 2005) We argue that resumptive structures in English actually consist of two syntactically independent structures: i) a false start beginning like a relative clause and ending with an embedding complementizer; and ii) a well-formed clause containing a pronoun whose antecedent is found in the preceding false start (see also Asudeh 2012's discussion of locally well-formed structures in the context of English resumption). The outcome of this analysis is that i) performance error explains the use vs. acceptability paradox; ii) English RPs in island and non-island contexts receive a unified treatment; and iii) the peculiarities between resumption in English and other languages (e.g. Arabic, Hebrew, and Irish) are given a straightforward explanation: RPs in English occur only in environments where discourse-linked pronouns occur.


    In category: Morphosyntax and semantics


  • Student term paper presentations from Seminar on Agreement

    Time: 07:00pm - 09:00pm 

    Place: Ballantine Hall 105


    7:00-7:25: Agreement with American corporate names in Russian (Elena Doludenko)

    7:25-7:50: Questioning intervention effects (Seth Wood)

    7:20–7:50: Break, with pizza and soft drinks provided

    8:10-8:35: Turkish suspended affixation: What does it tell us about the verbal domain? (Ksenia Zanon)

    8:35-9:00: On wh-phrases and agreement with coordinate phrase (Muamera Begovic)


    In category: Morphosyntax and semantics


November 29
November 30
  • Bayesian modeling and speech perception

    Time: 01:30pm - 03:00pm 

    Place: Psy 128 (conference room)


    Arthur Boothroyd (City University of New York)

    Recognition (re-cognition) lends itself to Bayesian modeling. The task is to decide which of several hypotheses about the source of a pattern of sensory evidence is most likely to be true. The perceiver brings two types of knowledge to this task. First, he knows the relative probabilities of the various hypotheses being true before receiving any sensory evidence. Second, he knows about the range of patterns of sensory evidence associated with each hypothesis. Receipt of the sensory evidence changes the probability associated with each hypotheses. At that point, the perceiver has a couple of options: i) accept the hypothesis that now has the highest probability or ii) accept the first hypothesis to pass some criterion and move on to the next decision. This model can be applied to speech perception and nicely explains several perceptual phenomena, including Necker’s cube, reading, categorical perception, priming, the McGurk effect, and (perhaps) the lexical neighborhood effect.


    In category: Phonetics and phonology


  • Response appropriateness in Spanish: Interactional competence in collaborative talk

    Time: 02:30pm - 04:00pm 

    Place: Ballantine Hall 205


    Robert Baxter

    In the field of L2 pragmatics, several studies have surged in the last decade on the development of interactional competence in language learners (Young, 2008, 2011). Advocates for the study of interactional competence highlight the importance of examining sequential management and response appropriateness for learners, what Young labels as 'interactional resources'. The study of overlap and conversational preference in collaborative talk is a means of examining what factors impact the use of interactional resources. In order to put forth experimental means of studying interactional competence, this study pioneers an experimental task for the measurement of perceptions and variables that influence perception of collaborative talk.

    This study examines native and non-native perceptions of conversational preference and overlap in comparisons of discourse in Spanish. An experimentally controlled task examined the perceptions of 13 native speakers of Spanish, 23 advanced non-native speakers. Participants completed a forced judgment task and ranked the appropriateness of responses in two-part dialogues that compared and contrasted preference and response onset to suggestions and assessments between a male and a female native speaker. The judgment task was followed by a background questionnaire that examined demographics and language background.

    Results demonstrate that native speakers differ significantly with stronger judgments than advanced non-natives. Comparisons demonstrate that while both groups judged overlapping responses of equal preference similarly as the most appropriate item compared to mismatches in preference or overlap, advanced non-natives judged contrasts in preference considerably weaker in the absence of overlap. Non-natives displayed significantly weaker judgments when faced with a "dual-mismatch" when overlap with a preference mismatch was compared with a non-overlapped preference match while native speakers judged in favor of preference. Overall, native speakers judged for appropriateness in preference over overlap while non-natives fluctuated in judgments between the two features. Natives varied judgment values based on linguistic features (speaker gender, speech act type and item combinations), however, non-natives were less systematic with judgments of overlap and preference resulting in fewer variables that impacted perception (speaker gender, some item combinations). Non-natives failed to reach significance for speech act type and also demonstrated influence by participant age (which was not significant for natives).

    Young, R. F. (2008). Language and interaction: An advanced resource book. New York: Routledge.
    Young, R. F. (2011). Interactional competence in language learning, teaching, and testing. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (Vol. 2, pp. 426-443). New York: Routledge.


    In category: Second language acquisition


December 01

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