The interaction between word and sentence prosody: a case study of Dalian Mandarin
Dalian, a seaside city locates at the northeast of China, is only 938km away from the capital, Beijing. Dalian Mandarin belongs to Jiao-liao dialect, which is reported has an interesting but unclear tonal near-merged phenomenon in the literature. Take the ambiguous lexical prosody and the undeveloped natural-spoken sentential prosody in this dialect into consideration; studies aim to have a clear idea of the two levels of prosody, also investigate the interaction between them. I am now focusing on the part of lexical level prosody; especially pay attention to the merged or near-merged tonal phenomenon from various aspects, such as generations, word frequency and so on as first step.
The lexicon of metallurgy: A means for investigating the linguistic past of Purépecha
Purépecha, spoken by around 110,000 people in Michoacán, West Mexico, has long been considered a language isolate. Of the unsuccessful attempts to find its linguistic relatives, Swadesh’s proposal linking Purépecha to Quechua is perhaps the most suggestive since it lends support to the pre-Columbian relations between cultures of West Mexico and South America found in the archaeological record. The most convincing of these connections is metallurgy, a technology that was transferred from the Pacific coast of South America (Ecuador) to West Mexico from 600AD onwards. Through a comparative study of the lexical domain of metallurgy, its materials, processes and tools, I am testing the hypothesis that there was contact, possibly even leading to genetic (linguistic) relatedness, between the peoples and languages of these two regions, with a focus on Purépecha.
Linguistic attitudes in the media
In the absence of an English Academy in the UK, a linguistic complaint tradition arose which has served an important function in preserving the standard language ideology. My research, which is embedded in the Bridging the Unbridgeable project on prescriptivism in the English language, deals with linguistic complaints made by language pedants who regularly try to label certain usage features as ‘bad’ or ‘incorrect’, such as double negation, the split infinitive, dangling participles, etc. The argumentation strategies and the diachronic changes in the complaint tradition are identified in a specialized corpus of letters to the editor. In this presentation I describe the process of data collection and annotation, the results I obtained so far and the challenges I encountered in dealing with large-scale corpora.
This study was done in collaboration with Prof. Holger Mitterer (Malta University) as result of my training in eye-tracking techniques applied to the investigation of (second) language acquisition and processing. English is one of the official languages in Malta for about 150 years and the natives from the island are understood to be Maltese-English bilinguals. However, some orthographic and phonological processes in Maltese English distinguish it from standard British English. Our main question is: is British English an L2 or a dialect for Maltese speakers? In order to start a range of investigations on this matter, we selected a clear grapheme-to-phoneme transfer in Maltese English: the realization of orthographic “th”, which seems to be allophonic between /t/ and / Ө/. Based on evidence from our eye-tracking – visual world paradigm – experiment and a production experiment, we observed that most Maltese English speakers (Maltese-English bilinguals) do not produce or perceive the distinction /t/ and /Ө/, independently of their English proficiency. These results add evidence to characterize the English variety spoken in Malta as a distinct English dialect.
The Phrasal Alternation in the Pondok Tinggi Dialect of Kerinci across two Generations
The Kerinci “language”, spoken in Jambi province of Sumatra, Indonesia, is a complex of many dialects. Although obviously belonging to the Malay subgroup, Kerinci dialects differ markedly from other Malay varieties. The most salient and typical features of Kerinci is the morphological phenomenon, termed phrasal alternation, whereby nearly all lexical roots have two distinct forms differing in the rhyme of their final syllable.
This study examines the use of phrasal alternation across generations in one variety of Kerinci, namely the vernacular of the village of Pondok Tinggi (PT). Two age groups of the native speakers of PT participated in this study. The results show that the way the older speakers speak differs from that of the younger speakers. The language is indeed changing.