51-60 of 556 Results

Article

Acoustic Theories of Speech Perception  

Melissa Redford and Melissa Baese-Berk

Acoustic theories assume that speech perception begins with an acoustic signal transformed by auditory processing. In classical acoustic theory, this assumption entails perceptual primitives that are akin to those identified in the spectral analyses of speech. The research objective is to link these primitives with phonological units of traditional descriptive linguistics via sound categories and then to understand how these units/categories are bound together in time to recognize words. Achieving this objective is challenging because the signal is replete with variation, making the mapping of signal to sound category nontrivial. Research that grapples with the mapping problem has led to many basic findings about speech perception, including the importance of cue redundancy to category identification and of differential cue weighting to category formation. Research that grapples with the related problem of binding categories into words for speech processing motivates current neuropsychological work on speech perception. The central focus on the mapping problem in classical theory has also led to an alternative type of acoustic theory, namely, exemplar-based theory. According to this type of acoustic theory, variability is critical for processing talker-specific information during speech processing. The problems associated with mapping acoustic cues to sound categories is not addressed because exemplar-based theories assume that perceptual traces of whole words are perceptual primitives. Smaller units of speech sound representation, as well as the phonology as a whole, are emergent from the word-based representations. Yet, like classical acoustic theories, exemplar-based theories assume that production is mediated by a phonology that has no inherent motor information. The presumed disconnect between acoustic and motor information during perceptual processing distinguishes acoustic theories as a class from other theories of speech perception.

Article

Acquisition of Inflection in Romance Languages  

Christophe Parisse

Inflection is present in all Romance languages, even if at times it can be replaced by the use of clitic elements. It is therefore a crucial feature of the language for children to acquire. The acquisition of inflected forms was studied in the nominal, verbal, and adjectival systems because it is present from the very first forms produced by children. Data are presented from the literature for six languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian, and Romanian. For all these languages, there exist open access corpus data available on the CHILDES website, which make it possible to have first-hand access to actual spoken data for these languages. Results show that children produce correct forms very early on for the most frequent grammatical elements (by age 2 for most children, but sometimes as early as age 18 months). This includes the use of nouns and determiners in both genders, and the use of verbs in the present, perfect, and imperative forms. Verbs are produced first in the third person, followed by the other persons. Nouns and verbs are used in the singular form before being used in the plural form. Other more complex grammatical forms, such as, for example, the imperfective past tense or the present conditional, emerge only later, and this is probably related to the semantics of the forms rather than their complexity. In most cases, there is correct agreement between noun and determiner, or verb and personal pronoun, or noun and verb. Errors are infrequent, and the nature of the errors can be used as means to study the mechanisms of language acquisition.

Article

Peculiarities of Raeto-Romance Word Formation  

Matthias Grünert

Raeto-Romance (RaeR.) word formation shows considerable differences between the three main varieties: Romansh of Grisons, Dolomitic Ladin, and Friulian. Although numerous processes of word formation are common to these varieties, being inherited from identical bases, their vitality differs. This is due to the detached developments in the individual areas and to different influences from the dominant neighboring languages, German and Italian, leading to numerous replications of patterns in the RaeR. varieties.

Article

Raeto-Romance: Romansh, Ladin, Friulian  

Luca Melchior

Raeto-Romance languages are spoken in northeastern Italy and (south)eastern Switzerland. They are subdivided into three major groups: Romansh, with about 40,000 speakers in Switzerland; Dolomite Ladin, with about 30,000 speakers in the Italian South Tyrol, Trentino, and Veneto; and Friulian—whose speaker number is estimated between 420,000 and 600,000—in the Italian Friuli and in eastern Veneto. The (supposed) linguistic unity of these subgroups bases on phonological and morphological features like the retention of Lat. clusters C+l, sigmatic noun plural, sigmatic second-person singular ending, palatalization of Lat. c a , g a , and syncope of proparoxytones, which separate them from Italian dialects. Other features, such as verb–subject (clitic) inversion in interrogative sentences, are more or less spread, and others like periphrastic future or differential object marking are characteristic only for one or few subvarieties. The unity (and uniqueness) of the Raeto-Romance group is hardly debated. The three groups do not have a common history and do not correspond to a unique political entity. Therefore, they show different language contact phenomena, whereby Romansh and Dolomite Ladin are characterized by a strong influence from German, while Friulian has been historically influenced by Germanic and Slavic languages, but much more from Venetan and Italian. Standardization efforts do not have the same success in the three areas: rumantsch grischun and Standard Friulian dominate in the official written uses in Grisons and Friuli, whereas the use of ladin dolomitan is more marginal. Romansh and Dolomite Ladin are compulsory subjects in school education while Friulian is only an optional subject.

Article

Reconstructing Proto-Germanic  

Martin Joachim Kümmel

In this article, the methodology of protolanguage reconstruction and its application to Proto-Germanic (PG) are discussed, with emphasis on the special case of an intermediate protolanguage and the problem of parallel changes in daughter languages. Then, a short description of PG and its reconstruction is given. The main focus is on phonology (section 2). Section 2.1 is a description of PG phonology as it can be reconstructed: first the segmental inventory (vowels and consonants), then suprasegmentals (accent, quantity, and syllables) and morphophonology. In section 2.2, the most important phonological changes relevant for PG are given, including some common post-PG developments. Section 3 treats PG inflectional morphology: After a short general characterization, section 3.1 describes nominal morphology, discussing inflectional categories and special features of nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, including some example paradigms of nouns. Section 3.2 deals with verbal morphology: After a discussion of the inflectional categories, the main features of morphological classes are described—mainly the characteristics of “strong” and “weak” verbs and their subclasses, followed by so-called preterite-presents and further irregular verbs, with example paradigms of one strong and one weak verb. In section 4, some short remarks on syntax follow. Section 5 discusses lexical reconstruction, especially cases of limited distribution in the daughter branches, showing that the availability of Indo-European comparanda often helps. It also treats language contact and borrowing relations of PG, both into PG (from Celtic or possible substrates) and from PG (into Saamic, Finnic, and Slavonic), as well as the hypothesis of Semitic influence.

Article

Sentence Fragment Ellipsis in Chinese  

Audrey Yen-hui Li and Ting-chi Wei

Understanding what sentence fragments requires a detailed investigation of their properties. Relevant studies have classified fragments into four types according to the use of the copular verb shi ‘be’ with fragments: the occurrence of the sentence-final particle ne, syntactic categories allowed, island effects, P-stranding, and connectivity effects. It is shown that the distinction of fragments into different types is not necessary. The wider range of data considered fails to convincingly support the need for distinction, and a unified analysis of all fragments should be pursued. Three logical possibilities for a unified approach to sentence fragments are evaluated: (a) fragment as a result of deleting all but the fragment of a sentence (movement + deletion approach), (b) fragment base-generated as [pro + copular verb + fragment], and (c) fragment base-generated as a fragment. The first two options face challenges. The last option, even though seemingly a more adequate analysis for the range of facts, requires connectivity effects to be analyzed in semantic terms.

Article

Sluicing and Predicate Ellipsis in Chinese  

Audrey Yen-hui Li and Ting-chi Wei

This article focuses on sluicing-like constructions and those that have been subsumed under predicate ellipsis—the Aux(iliary)-construction (VP-ellipsis) and the shi-construction. Important facts and main analyses are evaluated in regard to their strengths and weaknesses, leaving some issues for further research. Regarding the sluicing-like construction, this article shows that neither the approach of base-generating a clause [pro (+ copula) + wh] nor the movement + deletion approach fully accommodates all the relevant facts. Nor is it adequate to adopt both derivations simultaneously, as it would wrongly allow sentences that are unacceptable in a number of cases. The second part of this article briefly compares the Aux-construction and the shi-construction. The two differ in the size of the part that is missing—in the former, a Verb Phrase (VP) licensed by an auxiliary, and in the latter, a Tense Phrase (TP) licensed by the verb shi. Neither one allows extraction from within the missing VP/TP, pointing to the advantage of a Logical Form (LF)–copying approach over a Phonological Form–deletion approach.

Article

Southern Gallo-Romance: Occitan and Gascon  

Andres M. Kristol

Occitan, a language of high medieval literary culture, historically occupies the southern third of France. Today it is dialectalized and highly endangered, like all the regional languages of France. Its main linguistic regions are Languedocien, Provençal, Limousin, Auvergnat, Vivaro-dauphinois (Alpine Provençal) and, linguistically on the fringes of the domain, Gascon. Despite its dialectalization, its typological unity and the profound difference that separates it from Northern Galloroman (Oïl dialects, Francoprovençal) and Gallo-Italian remain clearly perceptible. Its history is characterised by several ruptures (the Crusade against the Albigensians, the French Revolution) and several attempts at "rebirth" (the Baroque period, the Felibrige movement in the second half of the 19th century, the Occitanist movement of the 20th century). Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the Occitan koinè, a literary and administrative language integrating the main dialectal characteristics of all regions, was lost and replaced by makeshift regional spellings based on the French spelling. The modern Occitanist orthography tries to overcome these divisions by coming as close as possible to the medieval, "classical" written tradition, while respecting the main regional characteristics. Being a bridge language between northern Galloroman (Oïl varieties and Francoprovençal), Italy and Iberoromania, Occitan is a relatively conservative language in terms of its phonetic evolution from the popular spoken Latin of western Romania, its morphology and syntax (absence of subject clitics in the verbal system, conservation of a fully functional simple past tense). Only Gascon, which was already considered a specific language in the Middle Ages, presents particular structures that make it unique among Romance languages (development of a system of enunciative particles).

Article

Verb Positions and Basic Clause Structure in Germanic  

Jan-Wouter Zwart

The syntax of the modern Germanic languages is characterized by a word order pattern whereby the finite verb appears to the immediate right of the first constituent (“verb second” or V2). In canonical verb-second languages (German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Frisian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish), verb second is limited to main clauses, yielding a main-embedded clause asymmetry, characteristic of the syntax of many Germanic languages. In the standard generative analysis, dating from the 1970s, the derivation of the verb-second pattern involves two ordered steps: (a) verb movement to the complementizer position C and (b) phrasal movement of an arbitrary constituent to the specifier position of the complementizer phrase. While this analysis remains a popular starting point for generative treatments of Germanic verb second, later developments have posed serious problems for the approach. These developments include (a) the articulation of a more detailed structure of the functional domain of the clause, providing a range of possible landing sites for the finite verb in verb-second clauses; (b) higher standards of descriptive and explanatory adequacy, necessitating well-motivated triggers for each individual movement step; (c) the development of the minimalist program, involving a sharper definition of what counts as syntactic operations, allowing for the possibility that certain processes previously considered syntactic are now better regarded as post-syntactic linearization processes; and (d) the widening of the empirical scope of verb-second research, including a range of related phenomena (such as verb-first or verb-third orders) not easily accommodated within the traditional frame. These developments make the study of verb second an exciting field in current syntactic theory, in which the varied and well-studied phenomena of Germanic continue to provide a fertile ground for the advancement of theory and description.

Article

Further Contributions to Romance Dialectometry  

John Nerbonne

Jean Séguy and Hans Goebl were the founders both of Romance dialectometry and of dialectometry in general, which focused largely on Romance languages in its early years. While other attention to dialects had appealed to scholarly intuition to adduce the principles behind the geographic distribution of linguistic variation, dialectometry insisted on employing exact methods and on basing analyses on entire large samples of material. The samples may often be found in dialect atlases, which pre-dialectometry scholars had assiduously compiled. Dialectometry thus continues the work of dialectology but always proceeding from entire large data collections and using methods that are more exact. It would nonetheless be a mistake to regard dialectometry as purely a methodological contribution, for dialectometry enables new research questions as well as sharper versions of traditional ones, which it has also pursued. Most centrally, dialectometry asks how geography influences linguistic variation, contrasting, for example, the perspective of discrete dialect areas with that of continua or examining the influence of distance or dialect areas on differences among varieties. It further seeks to characterize the sorts of variation involved (i.e., which sounds, words, or grammatical elements are involved) and aspires to characterize linguistic variation in ways that facilitate comparison to variation in other cultural dimensions such as religion, ethnicity, or mobility. Further work on Romance dialectometry has built on Séguy’s and Goebl’s innovative foundations (see ORE article on the Salzburg school) and has expanded the empirical scope of the research line to include non-geographic influences as well. Further contributions to this area of study have conducted analyses on different Romance language areas and have incorporated novel data collection protocols, new measures of pronunciation differences as encoded in phonetic transcription (edit distance), and novel statistical analyses, notably the application of multidimensional scaling, mixed-effects regression techniques, and generalized additive models. Emerging questions in dialectometry include attention to linguistic levels beyond phonetics and lexicology, the stricter validation of its techniques, more effective means of identifying the most important linguistic bases exploited in dialectal differentiation, and naturally the continued research into the enormous range of linguistic variation and its geographic distribution.