REMINDER - TOMORROW - USYD Department of Linguistics Research Seminar

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Sebastian Fedden

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Oct 20, 2016, 1:49:12 AM10/20/16
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Dear colleagues,

 

Our USYD Department of Linguistics Research Seminar continues with a talk by:

 

Dr Hannah Sarvasy

Australian National University

 

Insubordination starts early: ‘root infinitives’ in child-directed and child Nungon

 

Fri, 21 October 2016, 12.00-13.30

Rogers Room, John Woolley Bldg A20, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006

 

You’re welcome to bring your lunch to the talk. After the talk we’ll have our Linguistics Afternoon Tea.

 

You will find the abstract and a CV of our speaker below.

 

Best,

Sebastian

 

 

Abstract

Recent years have seen the burgeoning of typological literature on desubordinated (or ‘insubordinate’) non-finite verbs in adult speech around the world (Evans 2007, Mithun 2008). At the same time, child language acquisition researchers continue to debate the reasons for ‘root infinitives’ (Rizzi 1994): non-finite verbs serving as sole predicates in main clauses in child speech. Lasser (2002) effectively situates European children’s root infinitives within the worldwide adult speech phenomenon of non-finite verbs in main clauses. In fact, desubordinated non-finite verbs should occur in late-stage acquisition of all languages for which the phenomenon is attested in adult speech, but this has not yet been examined cross-linguistically. Children learning the Papuan language Nungon show mastery of at least some of the functions of desubordinated medial verbs that Sarvasy (2015) catalogued in adult Nungon. Nungon child-directed speech has a higher percentage of independent medial verbs than does an adult language documentation corpus. A related facet of Nungon child-directed speech is the repeated rewording of directives using a finite form, an independent non-finite form, and different dedicated imperative forms, until the child complies.

 

CV

Hannah Sarvasy received her PhD from James Cook University in 2015. Her dissertation is titled A Grammar of Nungon, a Papuan Language of Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. The grammar stems from fieldwork on the Nungon language since 2011. From 2014 to 2015, Sarvasy taught the graduate Field Methods sequence and four undergraduate courses in the UCLA Linguistics Department. She previously worked on the severely-endangered Atlantic languages Kim and Bom of Sierra Leone through the Documenting Kim and Bom project, spending a total of 10 months in fishing villages of the Krim and Bum Chiefdoms. Sarvasy's Honors thesis at Harvard was the linguistic analysis of a Tashelhit Berber folktale.



Dr Sebastian Fedden | Lecturer in Linguistics

School of Letters, Art and Media | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

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Sebastian Fedden

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Oct 26, 2016, 11:47:49 PM10/26/16
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Dear colleagues,

 

Our USYD Department of Linguistics Research Seminar concludes with a talk by:

 

Dr Danielle Barth

Australian National University

 

Variation in Matukar Panau Kinship Terminology

 

Fri, 28 October 2016, 12.00-13.30

Rogers Room, John Woolley Bldg A20, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006

 

You’re welcome to bring your lunch to the talk. After the talk we’ll have our Linguistics Afternoon Tea.

 

You will find the abstract below.

 

Best,

Sebastian

 

 

Abstract

It is well known that referent terms for kin vary along many different dimensions across languages. A sibling term may be differentiated for gender, age relative to the speaker, gender relative to the speaker, etc. There may be syncretism in a kinship system where grandparents and grandchildren are referred to with the same term or where fathers and uncles are referred to with the same term. This talk is concerned with a different kind of variation in kinship systems. There are some languages and some contexts where a given speaker may refer to a particular referent with a specific relationship with multiple terms. Matukar Panau is one such language. A Matukar Panau speaker may refer to their mother with the term tinau ‘my mother’ or ngahau nen ‘my mother’ equally felicitously. The first term is directly possessed (inalienably, with a suffix) and the second is indirectly possessed (alienably, with a classifier). There is, then, a grammatical consequence of the choice of term for ‘my mother’. Not all terms in the Matukar Panau kinship system show this kind of variation, but ten different widely-used kinship relationships have both a directly and indirectly possessed referential term. This talk is concerned with the sociolinguistic circumstances in which a speaker may choose to use one term over another and in the aspects of the kinship system that influence higher levels of variability for particular terms or sub-parts of the system.

This talk presents the Matukar Panau kinship system and show which parts of the system show variability. Corpus data is used for a random forest analysis (Hothorn et al., 2006; Strobl et al., 2008; 2007) of predictors for either direct versus indirect possessed terms. Results of this study show that younger speakers are generally more likely to use indirectly possessed terms than directly possessed ones. Examination of kin term meanings shows that spousal and parental relationships are more likely to be indirectly possessed than other kind of relationships (i.e. child and sibling relationships, among others) and that female kin are more likely to be referred to using indirectly possessed terminology than male kin. Finally, directly possessed terms are more likely to be used in narrative and exposition than in conversation. Taken together, these findings indicate that there is an overall shift towards indirect possession for kin terms (also cf. Meakins and O’Shannessy, 2005; Meyerhoff and Truesdale, 2015), particularly in informal contexts, and that the greatest variation is in the domain of intimate relationships likely to be part of a single household (cf. Tyler, 1966).

 

 

Hothorn, T., Buehlmann, P., Dudoit, S., Molinaro, A. & Van Der Laan, M. (2006). Survival Ensembles. Biostatistics, 7(3), 355-373.

Lynch, J., Ross, M., & Crowley, T. (2002). The Oceanic Languages (Vol. 1). Psychology Press.

Meakins, F., & O'Shannessy, C. (2005). Possessing variation: Age and inalienability related variables in the possessive constructions of two Australian mixed languages. Monash University Linguistics Papers, 4(2), 43-63.

Meyerhoff, M., & Truesdale, S. (2015). Possession Constraints in Nkep (Vanuatu). Paper presented at New Ways of Analyzing Variation Asia Pacific, 4. April 22-14, Chiayi, Taiwan.

Strobl, C., Boulesteix, A., Zeileis, A., & Hothorn, T. (2007). Bias in Random Forest Variable Importance Measures: Illustrations, Sources and a Solution. BMC Bioinformatics, 8(25). URL http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2105/8/25.

Strobl, C., Boulesteix, A., Kneib, T., Augustin, T., & Zeileis, A. (2008). Conditional variable importance for random forests. BMC Bioinfomatics, 9(307). URL http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2105/9/307.

Tyler, S. A. (1966). Context and variation in Koya kinship terminology. American Anthropologist, 68(3), 693-707.

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