The Language Variation and Change workshop will host its first fieldwork recap session this Friday, November 17th at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301. Come learn where students are doing their fieldwork, their methods, and the challenges they face. This week we’ll hear from Hilary McMahan, Cherry Meyer, Kat Montemurro, and Adam Singerman! A small reception will follow everyone’s presentations.
Please join us for a talk by Adam Singerman at a joint meeting with the Morphology & Syntax workshop, on Friday, November 3rd at 1 PM in Cobb 119. Details in the attached abstract.
Evidentiality, grammatical number, and physical position in Tuparí
Adam Singerman (University of Chicago)
Please join us for a talk by yours truly at LVC on October 6th at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301. Details about the talk are below.
Alignment shift in Chukotkan: the case against contact-induced change
University of Chicago
The Chukotkan branch of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan family displays an unusual kind of ergativity, with unambiguously ergative case marking on nouns but an “ergative split” in the verb. Based on Fortescue’s (1997, 2003) reconstructions and the accusative patterning of Kamchatkan, ergative case marking appears to be an innovation in Chukotkan. While Fortescue argues that this change arose due to substrate effects from Yupik, I argue that this is unlikely, based on other contact-driven changes in both language families and the nature of this contact. Instead, I propose that the change was internally-motivated, stemming from the reanalysis of a passive participial.
Please join us this Friday, February 24th at 1PM in Rosenwald 208 for a joint meeting of LVC and the Morphology & Syntax workshops. Our speaker will be Adam Singerman.
“Finite embedding and quotation in Tuparí”
Adam Roth Singerman
University of Chicago
Please join LVC this Friday, December 2 at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301. It will be our last meeting of the quarter and our speaker is our own Jacob Phillips. Hope you can make it!
LVC is cosponsoring a meeting of the Semiotics Workshop, on November 3 at 4:30 PM in Haskell 101, which will touch upon language contact in Mesoamerica.
with a brief addendum by Chris Bloechl
Please join us for the second part of this year’s Fieldwork Recap Session, which will take place in the Landahl Center on Thursday Oct 27 at 12 noon. We will be hearing from Betsy Pillion (discussing her planned fieldwork in Africa), Natalia Pavlou (Cypriot Maronite Arabic), Robert Lewis (Potawatomi), and Hannah McElgunn (Hopi).
As always some light refreshments will be served. Hope to see you there!
Please join us for the first part of this year’s Fieldwork Recap Session, where students will talk about where in the world they’re conducting their research and the challenges associated with working and establishing contacts in different places.
Our first group of presenters (along with the regions where they work) includes: Adam Singerman (the Amazon), Ksenia Ershova (the Caucasus), Perry Wong (Guatemala), and Jessica Kantarovich (Siberia).
See you Friday October 7th at 3:30 PM! (Location TBD: check back for an update in the next couple of days.)
Friday, March 1st @ 3:00PM in Rosenwald 015
Shepu or Mandarin? Attention and second order indexicality in a Chinese yoga studio
University of Chicago
In this talk, I will examine how the phonetic qualities of language become mobilized in processes of second-order indexicality in a yoga studio in Huangshan, China. Shepu, a portmanteau of Shexianhua (She county dialect) and Mandarin, is the local term for the dialect of Mandarin spoken in She county, a nonstandard dialect which incorporates many phonetic, prosodic, and tonal qualities from Shexianhua. Second-order indexicality is the process through which indexical relationship between ways of speaking and certain types of speakers becomes naturalized, such that ways of speaking become seen as iconic of, rather than indexing, certain types of speakers, and thus linking linguistic traits to other socially meaningful non-linguistic traits. While much literature has been devoted to showing how listener judgments allow the listener to classify speakers as belonging to certain social categories, in this talk I will show how the process also works in reverse. If listeners have already classified individuals as a certain social type, they are more likely to be attentive to and pick out the qualities of speech which conform to their preconceived perceptions than they are with other speakers, regardless of actual speaker variation. I show how this process works with three speakers of Shepu
Friday, February 12th @ 3:00PM in Rosenwald 015
“Is ‘huh’ really a universal word? Clicks, kisses & whistles in Cameroon”
Betsy Pillion, Sarah Kopper & Lenore Grenoble
University of Chicago, MSU, University of Chicago
Cameroon, a linguistically diverse country of more than 240 languages, is host to a set of cross- linguistic communicative signals that are ubiquitous in the common space.
In this work, we describe a system of extra-grammatical sounds in use in a variety of speech communities in southern Cameroon attested in four Bantu languages, with three Narrow Bantu varieties: Basaa (A40), closely related Bakoko (A40), and Bulu (A70), all spoken in the Littoral, Central and South regions, and one Grasslands language, Ngoshie, spoken in the Northwest (classification from Hammerstöm et al. 2015). Although not integrated into a morphosyntactic frame, these sounds are meaningful units with specific discourse functions. We identify these sounds as members of a larger class of what we call verbal gestures, defined by a set of functional and structural characteristics. Such sounds are often found in exclamations, animal calls and borrowed words; some may be considered as constituting a secondary phonemic system (Fries & Pike 1949; Harris 1951). Although they are extragrammatical, some have clear lexical meaning and serve as lexical substitutes, while others are more gesture-like in conveying pragmatic, but not lexico-semantic, meaning. Some are segmental and others extra-segmental.
Our data point to a complex system of these verbal gestures. In this paper we describe five that are highly salient across multiple languages:
Table 1: Verbal gestures
|(stop-)sibilant||attention getting||Bulu, Ngoshie, Bakoko, Basaa|
|bilabial-lateral click||negative affect||Bulu, Ngoshie, Bakoko, Basaa|
|lateral click||back channel||Ngoshie, Basaa|
|bilabial click||dog call/“wolf whistle”||Bulu, Ngoshie, Bakoko, Basaa|
The clicks form a special subclass of verbal gestures referred to as tʃámlà in Basaa. In addition, a highly salient use of F0 contours occurs in gestures for calling across distances. These gestures have wide recognition across a large area of the country even though consultants self-identify as speaking different first languages. Thus they exhibit a high degree of salience across speech communities while simultaneously displaying variation, individual variation as well as across speakers and languages. For example, the attention-getting gesture, a hiss, is sometimes uttered with a consonantal onset (e.g. [kss], [dss], [pss]), or as an elongated [s:]. The extent to which this is due to differences in speech communities has not yet been determined.
The identification of the category of verbal gestures has cross-linguistic implications. Their use is universal and can account for claims such as Dingemanse et al. (2013) that ‘huh’ is a universal “word.” In our theory, it is a verbal gesture, with differences in phonetics and discourse functions attributable to language differences. Furthermore, our classification expands the study of non-phonemic clicks in the languages of Africa and provides more details about the actual use of the so-called paralinguistic clicks described by Gil (2011), with some (albeit tentative) support of his hypothesis that the extra- grammatical use of clicks may have spread from Africa.
Data for this study was collected from fieldwork conducted in Yaoundé, Édéa, and Buea, Cameroon in summer 2015.
Dingemanse, Mark, Francisco Torreira, N.J. Enfield. 2013. Is “huh” a universal word? Conver- sational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items. PLoS ONE 8(11): e78273. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078273
Fries, Charles C. & Kenneth L. Pike. 1949. Coexistent phonemic systems. Language 25: 29-50.
Gil, David. 2011. Para-linguistic usages of clicks. In: Dryer, Matthew S. & Martin Haspelmath (eds.), The world atlas of language structures online. Munich: Max Planck Digital Library, chapter 142. Available online at http://wals.info/chapter/142 Accessed on 2015-11-09
Hammarström, Harald, Rober Forkel, Martin Haspelmath & Sebastian Bank. 2015. Glottolog 2.6. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. (http://glottolog.org, Accessed on 2015-11-09.)
Harris, Zellig S. 1951. Methods in structural linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
McNeill, David. 1992. Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.