Matthijs Verzijden (11:50 - 12:10)
Hakka mountain songs
In this talk, I investigate san24go24 ‘mountain songs’, an oral tradition of the Hakka. This linguistic, cultural, and maybe ethnic group, living in the south-east of China, in Taiwan, and in the diaspora, stands out from other Chinese ethnolinguistic groups for its strong group identity and allegedly unique history. Although Hakka identity is indeed strong and exclusive, it is also constructed and more recent than is commonly argued (Constable 1996; Leong 1997). I argue that the san24go24 oral tradition can not only illustrate these issues very well, but may also bring some new insights to this discussion.
Through the analysis of one performance of these mountain songs from Taiwan, compared with the findings from scholarly literature, I investigate the general properties of this oral tradition as for content, form, music, and performance. San24go24 tell of love, desire, and sex; they feature rigid verse form, meter, and rhyme; melodies vary only limitedly between the songs; the songs are primarily sung by women and may be accompanied by a small orchestra, but much has changed throughout the tradition’s history (compare Idema 2015). These observations enable me to connect the tradition with its sociocultural context, with other similar oral traditions around as well as Sinophone literature at large, and with issues in oral tradition description and analysis in general.
It turns out that, while Hakka mountain songs are argued to be uniquely Hakka, and do indeed exhibit many Hakka cultural features, they also show some remarkable similarities to other Sinophone but non-Hakka oral traditions. In addition, the history of Hakka mountain songs shows how oral literature is never entirely separate from written literature. Finally, I show which role filler syllables and monothematism, as issues of oral tradition study at large, play in Hakka san24go24, and how these two topics provide avenues for further study.
Wout Damen (11:50 - 12:10, presenting online)
Handshape acquisition in Sign Language of the Netherlands
Signs are made up of five phonological parameters, Handshape being one of them. Children acquire handshapes in a semi-predictable order, comparable to phoneme acquisition, starting with common unmarked handshapes and ending with the marked ones. The exact order of handshape acquisition has been examined for some sign languages, but not yet for Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). My BA thesis is exploratory study presenting an initial acquisition order for NGT handshapes based on longitudinal data from a child with NGT as his mother tongue. The orders derived from this data have been analysed with a more traditional method in the study of handshape acquisition and an alternative method from phoneme acquisition. Analysis of the orders derived from these two methods argue that the alternative method has a higher validity and would therefore be suitable for further analyses of sign language acquisition. The final acquisition order of NGT handshapes can be accounted for in terms of markedness and feature acquisition. Potential universals of the sign language acquisition process based on this study are /1/ and /5/ as fundamental handshapes, the early acquisition of the unmarked handshapes, and the acquisition burst of marked handshapes.
David Ginebra (12:25 - 12:45)
Segments defining the South America macro-area: evidence from a quantitative study
South America (hence SA) is currently considered a linguistic macro-area, that is, the sum of different language regions (Campbell 2012). Efforts have been made to find common traits among the languages in these areas (Wichmann et al. 2011; Campbell 2012; Aikhenvald 2012). This paper aims to contribute to the description of this area by analyzing shared phonological traits: I point out segments which are common in SA but rare elsewhere (hence EW), and segments which are common EW but rare in SA.
This study takes a quantitative approach, consisting of a systematic analysis and comparison between the SAPhon and PHOIBLE databases is made for the first time. SAPhon is a database including inventories for 363 SA languages (Michael et al. 2015), while PHOIBLE is a database including inventories for 3020 world’s languages (Moran et al. 2014). Combining data from both databases I have calculated how often each segment is found in SA and EW and the function between these two values. For instance, the velar nasal segment /ŋ/ is found in 22% of SA languages and in 68% of the languages EW. The function between both values is 3.14, that is, /ŋ/ is +3 times more frequent EW than in SA.
The results of this study are threefold: first, they show new phonological characteristics of SA languages; second, they reinforce some assumptions in the description of SA languages; and finally, they clarify some previous misconceptions. Nasal vowels and the high central vowel /ĩ/ appear to be significantly more common in SA than EW. This is also the case for the alveolar flap /ɾ/ (80% of the languages in SA but only 18% EW); in contrast, the alveolar trill is extremely rare (only 4% of SA languages). Labiodental fricatives are also very rare: /v/ is only found in 1% of SA languages and /f/ in 5% (18 and 9 times less frequent than EW, respectively).
These findings show some common characteristics in SA language inventories, but they also show a quantitative analysis approach that might be used for further research, such as assessing language areas according to their phonological similarities in SA and also EW.
Jelle Christiaans (12:25 - 12:45, presenting online)
Reinventing a 2500-year-old category: on verbal aspect, breaking with tradition, and persuasive rhetoric (no knowledge of Classical Greek or the Greek alphabet necessary!)
Even after two-and-half millennium, the jury is still out on the precise workings of verbal aspect in Classical Greek and the semantic value of the aorist (perfective aspect) and present (imperfective aspect) stems in particular. The general consensus is that perfective aspect presents completed events and imperfective aspect not yet completed events, but classicists tend to gloss over cases where these values do not hold up. A total review of the category of aspect is needed, but this is no easy feat. In this talk, I will take you along the journey of how I, together with Dr. Adriaan Rademaker, approached this revamp of Greek verbal aspect. Obviously, it will be about Greek, but my bigger aim will be to sketch the way we work in order to give you some insight into how academic puzzles may be laid.
Be prepared to meet an obstinate professor of Greek no-one ever believed, to encounter structuralist linguists stuck in the previous century, and to relive an ancient court case and a divorce quarrel. During the talk, I will guide you through the communis opinio, the problems it presents and the different bits of data we collected to piece together the puzzle of Ancient Greek verbal aspect. We will pass by old ideas, rebellious souls and clever (and not-so-clever) refutations to end up at the final conclusion: Classical Greek verbal aspect is best understood as a complex, polysemous category that can be described using a network of uses.
Ariëlle Reitsema (12:50 - 13:10)
Chameleon or Copycat? The Morphological Causative and Passive in Korean
Foreigners studying Korean grammar are bound to come across a peculiarity: causative and passive verbs can often have identical surface forms. For example, the verb poita – derived from pota “to see” – can mean either “to show” or “to be seen” depending on the context. At least in the surface representations, it appears that exactly the same suffix –i is used to create both the morphological causative and passive. Although this does not tend to lead to misunderstanding in daily life, the ambiguity is striking and remains to be accounted for.
My paper focused on how this I-suffix should be represented in the grammar: as one or two. Are there in fact two separate underlying morphemes that are like copycats and have therefore grown more alike, or is there one underlying suffix that is versatile like a chameleon and can somehow ‘change its colour’ to fit in multiple different contexts?
There were proponents of both approaches in the literature. Those supporting the chameleon-approach represented only one suffix, drawing arguments from the doubling constraint and adversity constructions. (A passive causative such as “food was fed to her” cannot be created by doubling the I-suffix, although it can be formed differently.) Proponents of the copycat-approach on the other hand argued that the selection of the passive and causative suffixes is lexicalised and therefore separate. (For example, some homonyms select a different phonological variant of the I-suffix for the passive and causative forms respectively.)
A critical examination of the arguments showed some weaknesses in the argumentation in the copycat-approach, and underlined the value of a diachronic perspective in explaining patterns despite irregularities. Thus, the I-suffix was analysed as having a single underlying representation, while keeping in mind that the suffix seems to be intrinsically ambiguous between being one or two suffixes altogether.
Kambiz Nasseri (15:00 - 15:20)
The effects of individual differences in L1-complexity on L2-complexity
Previous research indicated that individual variability in L1-profiency can carry over to the L2. This has implications for the notion of an ultimate native speaker level of L2-attainment, as it suggests that (1) native speakers differ with regard to their proficiency and (2) a speaker’s L2-performance might (partially) be a product of their individual speaking style rather than the level of L2- attainment. This in turn has implications for assesments of L2-speech, as well as theories of L2- learning. Together with a group of students, I investigated whether such an effect could be found for complexity of spoken speech. 24 participants with various (linguistic) backgrounds performed four speaking tasks, two in the L1 and two in the L2. Four measurements were derived from the data, two of which measured syntactic complexity (‘mean number of clauses per AS-unit’ and ‘mean number of words per clause’) and two for lexical complexity (‘mean word length’ and ‘Guiraud index’). Spearman rho tests revealed that individual variability in L1-scores was positively correlated with L2-scores for all measures. This suggests that the evidence for the effect of individual differences in L1-profiency on L2-profiency can be extended to the domain of complexity of speech. Additionally, I investigated whether the level of prior education could be identified as a predictor for both L1 and L2-scores, but this effect was not found.
Language Transmission Challenges of Cantonese Heritage Speakers in the Netherlands
As the Dutch society becomes increasingly more aware of the different needs of people with a migration background, the question of heritage language transmission becomes more relevant as well. This is especially evident amongst heritage speakers of different language varieties. Second-generation Cantonese speakers in the Netherlands, whose dominant language is generally not their heritage language, experience difficulties in finding a balance between family language planning and their own language competence. In this presentation, I discuss the challenges Cantonese heritage speakers foresee and experience in the transmission of Cantonese to the next (third) generation Cantonese. This presentation draws on the data I collected from intensive 1-on-1 online semi-structured interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic from September to December 2021 and is part of my ResMA thesis about Cantonese as a Heritage Language in the Netherlands. I will discuss the fragility of heritage languages, while disentangling the thoughts, language attitudes and understandings and misunderstandings among Cantonese heritage speakers concerning heritage language maintenance and transmission. In addition, I discuss the practicalities of heritage language transmission, in which there is a role for parents, grandparents, Cantonese schools and educational institutions more generally.