Fall 2020, Organized Virtually by Professor César Félix-Brasdefer
November 13, 2020
Speaker: Julio López-Otero (Postdoctoral Research Scholar)
"Lexical Frequency Effects in the Acquisition of Heritage Spanish: Evidence from Imperatives and Gender"
Heritage speakers present a different pattern of language exposure and use from monolingual native speakers of their heritage language. They have been bilinguals since birth or at least childhood, resulting in the frequent activation of two competing languages for production and comprehension purposes: a societal language and a heritage language. In this presentation, I will discuss the role of lexical frequency, used as a proxy for frequency of activation, in the acquisition of heritage Spanish morphosyntax. I will present data from imperative verb forms along with gender assignment and agreement, which indicate that self-rated lexical frequency predicts monolingual-like production of these structures. I will also examine the use of a productive vocabulary task as a measure for morphosyntactic proficiency in heritage speakers. The results point out the need to explore lexical frequency effects on heritage language acquisition and maintenance.
Spring 2021, Organized Virtually by Associate Professor Patrícia Amaral
January 22, 2020
Speaker: Laura Merino (PhD Candidate)
"Thirty-Five Ways of Expressing Conditionality in Mexican Spanish"
Cross-linguistically speakers use a wide variety of morphosyntactic structures to express conditionality including juxtaposition, non-finite protases, and subordination including the prototypical structure if p, (then) q (e.g., Montolío 1999). Furthermore, conditional constructions (CCs) intersect with other types of constructions such as adversativity and causality (e.g., Kortmann 1997). The purpose of this talk is to present an empirically based inventory of CCs in Spanish and the sociolinguistic factors that condition their use. The data comes from 32 speakers of Mexican Spanish who were presented with an opinion interview and a contextualized situations task designed to elicit CCs. A total of 977 CCs were identified, which were divided into 35 types grouped into three major categories: overt connective, elliptical, and juxtaposition. Overt connectives constitute 43% of the data (N=418), followed by elliptical constructions (those without an overt protasis) 34% (N=337) and juxtaposed clauses without a connective 23% (N=222). These results show the heterogenous nature of CCs and highlight the importance of analysing conditionality beyond overt markers like if or in case that. Furthermore, research on CCs have usually focused on the protasis, however, this work also underscores the importance of the apodosis's marking as when there is no overt connective it is usually the independent clause the one who carries the load of triggering the conditional inference (e.g., via a modal adverb like tal vez 'maybe').
February 19, 2020
Speaker: Cristina Molinos (Visiting Professor; Professor of English Philology, University of Seville)
"Una aproximación teórica a la tipología adverbial subjunto"
Nuestro objeto de estudio ha sido motivado por la actual indefinición categorial que se da en las clasificaciones adverbiales existentes. Principalmente nos hemos centrado en el estudio realizado por Quirk et al. (1985), donde se establece la tipología adverbial subjunto, que refleja incongruencias como la falta de principios jerárquicos que distinguen el nivel sintagmático oracional y de un análisis más globalizador. Algunos factores para tener en cuenta a la hora de llevar a cabo un estudio exhaustivo sobre los llamados subjuntos son la importancia de la léxico-semántica, cuyo rol es fundamental para una profunda comprensión de los mismos, la significativa relación existente entre dichos elementos y otras categorías adverbiales como los adjuntos de proceso, así como la estrecha relación que se da entre los adverbios orientados hacia el sujeto y especialmente los adjetivos o los sustantivos. Por tanto, un estudio completo de dichos elementos se habría de llevar a cabo no sólo en el ámbito de la sintaxis sino también en un campo descriptivo como el del análisis del discurso.
La ponencia ha perseguido como objetivo, en primer lugar, llevar a cabo un amplio estudio teórico de la literatura existente hasta el momento que nos permita ofrecer una revisión crítica y exhaustiva de la misma. Posteriormente, nos hemos propuesto elaborar un modelo analítico de los subjuntos, especialmente los orientados hacia el sujeto, que ofrezca una descripción de estos elementos no sólo sintáctica, sino también de índole semántico-pragmático y funcional.
March 12, 2020
Speakers: Manuel Díaz-Campos (Professor), Erik Willis (Associate Professor) and Matthew Pollock (PhD candidate)
"A usage-based account of sociophonetic variation: The case of the variable trill /r/ in Venezuelan Spanish"
Many sociolinguistic studies have studied lexical frequency in their effort to track patterns of language variation: however, newer studies have studied two-word strings (or bigrams) in an effort to better reflect cognitive sequencing of language and understand the forces behind variation and language change (Brown, 2018; Brown, File-Muriel, and Gradoville, in press; Bybee, 2006; Díaz-Campos, Fafulas, and Gradoville, 2012; Díaz-Campos and Gradoville, 2011). The current project presents a usage-based account of the variable Venezuelan trill /r/ production to determine frequency effects in Caracas Spanish. Bybee (2001) discusses frequency effects on two-word strings, where highly predictable words in second position favor maintenance of syllable-final consonants. However, it is unclear whether this effect impacts variable production of syllable-initial trills. This paper contributes to frequency discourse by presenting an empirical analysis of two-word-string frequency and its effects on variable trill production.
The dependent variable was spectrally analyzed by observing duration and number of occlusions. Over 2,369 total tokens from 35 sociolinguistics interviews from the Estudio Sociolingüístico del Habla de Caracas corpus (1987) were used, balancing speakers for class, age, and sex. The data were then statistically modelled using a mixed-effects logistic regression to determine the relative effect of the factors influencing variable production of the trill.
The pattern of variation present in Caracas Spanish was determined to reflect that of other dialects. The most common variants were the approximant without occlusion and the trill with two taps. Multivariate analysis shows that factors including lexical and bigram frequency, position within the word, number of syllables, grammatical category, age, gender, and socioeconomic class have an effect on the production of trill-like variants. Based on this evidence, variable trill production can be characterized as phonetically conditioned and gradual. Regarding bigram frequency, highly predictable words in second position highly favor "canonical" production of the syllable-initial trills. These findings are consistent with Bybee's usage-based analysis of the frequency effect of two-word strings and contribute to our understanding of patterns of language variation and change.
April 23, 2020
Speaker: Laura Gurzynski-Weiss (Associate Professor)
"Tasks from day one: Exposure-track L2 Spanish in Indiana"
Despite their status as the most common elementary-level L2 program in the US, little is known about if and how students learn L2 Spanish in exposure-track programs. Most exposure-track programs meet 40-50 minutes once per week and have no linguistic or non-linguistic goals, measurements, or expectations of L2 development. Given the lifelong benefits of early access to L2 and the minimal time learners have in exposure-track classrooms, it is crucial that these L2 learning opportunities are as optimal as possible. In this talk I will detail an in-progress collaboration between my research team (Mackenzie Coulter-Kern, Madison Wray, Clayton Underhill, and Matt Williams) and teachers, parents, and administrators from a southern Indiana school district where we are designing a task-based exposure-track program for elementary-level L2 Spanish. Our task-based program will maximize opportunities for Spanish learning, support ongoing outreach efforts in the community, and provide much-needed data on the development of Spanish and the non-linguistic benefits of early L2 learning in exposure-track settings. The project is funded by the Vice Provost for Research, the Center for Rural Engagement, and is further supported by a Graduate Research Assistantship (Megan DiBartolomeo) from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.