Working Papers in Linguistics - 2015

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    A Sketch of Handshape Morphology in Hawai’i Sign Language
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2015-12-01) Rarrick, Samantha
    Hawai‘i Sign Language (HSL) is a critically endangered sign language indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. Lexicostatistical data gathered by Lambrecht, Earth, and Woodward (2013) have shown that HSL is unrelated to American Sign Language (ASL). This article aims to provide additional descriptive work for this language, demonstrate a grammatical difference between HSL and ASL with respect to handshape morphology, and discuss the usage restrictions of these handshapes in typological perspective, concluding that this grammatical difference between ASL and HSL is significant and the restrictions found in HSL are typologically rare.*
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    Language vs. Dialect in Language Cataloguing: The Vexed Case of Otomanguean Dialect Continua
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2015-12-01) Okura, Eve
    This paper reviews the literature on the language-vs.-dialect question and mutual intelligibility testing. It discusses conflicting internal classification schemes from different sources involving Mixtec and Zapotec dialect continua (members of the Otomanguean language family). The paper shows how various catalogues differ in their purposes and thus in their methods of dealing with these dialect continua, comparing and contrasting various internal classification schemes. It also demonstrates how the Catalogue of Endangered languages has solved the issue of the Mixtec and Zapotec dialect continua. KEYWORDS: dialect continuum; dialect continua; dialect chain; mutual intelligibility; catalogue; Otomanguean; Mixtec; Zapotec; Catalogue of Endangered Languages; ELCat
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    Tetun Dili and Creoles: Another Look
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2015-12-01) Chen, Yen-ling
    This paper revisits the linguistic classification of Tetun Dili, an Austronesian language spoken in and around the city of Dili, East Timor. Since at least the late 1990s several writers have claimed that this variant of the more widely-spoken Tetun language is a creole. However, close examination of the relevant data for the Dili dialect in relation both to the more conservative Tetun Fehan, and to Portuguese, shows little or no supporting evidence for the creole hypothesis. It is concluded that Tetun Dili is simply an Austronesian language with fairly numerous loanwords from Portuguese, particularly in semantic domains that reflect the nature of the contact situation during the colonial period.
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    Toward a Phonological Reconstruction of Proto-Sula
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2015-12-01) Bloyd, Tobias
    This paper describes the primary dialect division in Sula, an under-documented language of eastern Indonesia. It uses the Comparative Method with new primary data to describe the protolanguage and its transformations, and in the process helps to narrow the regional literature gap.
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    Perceptions of Language in East Timor
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2015-09-01) Ross, Melody Ann
    Preston (1982) made a strong case for the validity and sophistication of speaker knowledge by demonstrating that individual and societal language use is the product of careful thought and reflection. Map tasks are a methodology commonly used by Preston and others in perceptual dialectology studies to gather data on a particular population’s perceptions of language use. The task requires participants to mark language boundaries or language areas on a (usually) pre-printed map, drawing on their own notions, experiences, observations, or stereotypes. Very little work has been done on the systematic evaluation of Timorese opinions of language use in their country, apart from interviews (Quinn 2008, 2010) and surveys or questionnaires (UNMIT 2012, Leach 2012). To add to this body of literature, the present study investigates Timorese perceptions of language use, and particularly the strength of the connection between language and place in East Timor, using Preston’s map-task methodology.
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    Effects of Phonotactic Probabilities on Syllable Structure
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2015-09-01) Kim, Jonny
    Korean is known for its onset-body structure or left-branching syllable structure. Experimental findings have shown that native speakers of Korean are better at processing the onset and nucleus of a CVC syllable as a constituent than the nucleus and coda, while English speakers prefer the nucleus and coda, the rhyme. This study investigates the nature of the different mental representations of a syllable across the two languages by testing if the processing rate of reduplicating CV and VC sequences is affected by phonotactic probabilities of the sequences. The effects of phonotactic probabilities are discussed at two levels. At the local level, a frequently occurring phoneme sequence in either of the two languages is predicted to lead to fast processing either at the CV or VC position because native speakers of each language are sensitive to the likelihood of having a particular sequence in their language. At the global level, the overall branching advantage of each language found in the literature is predicted to be the consequence of native speakers’ sensitivity to the overall statistical distribution of phonotactic constraints put on the CV domain and the VC domain in their respective language.
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    Tagalog Relative Clause Production: Data from Adults and Children
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2015-02-01) Tanaka, Nozomi
    Tagalog uses a focus system, where verbal affixation and case marking work in coordination to mark the syntactically prominent argument. Whether Tagalog has a nominative-accusative system or an ergative.absolutive system has long been a matter of discussion among linguists. The current study investigates the acquisition of relative clauses in Tagalog using an elicited production task and asks whether the acquisition of Tagalog relativization follows previously reported findings for nominative-accusative languages or ergative-absolutive languages. The results show that the overall pattern fits that of nominative-accusative languages. The study’s child participants, however, showed a bimodal distribution, indicating that some children treat the language as nominative-accusative, while others analyze it as an ergative-accusative language.*
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    “Split Inversion” in Nyagrong Minyag and Its Implication for the Evolution of the Rgyalrongic Direct/Inverse System.
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2015-02-01) Chen, Victoria (Yen-Hsin)
    The rGyalrongic languages of the Tibeto-Burman family employ what is conventionally called a direct/ inverse system, a type of Person-sensitive transitive morphology conditioned by the relative ranking of the agent and the patient on the Person Hierarchy. Based on primary data, this paper investigates a unique type of transitive marking found in the Bomei dialect of Nyagrong Minyag, which, although unambiguously cognate with the inverse marker in closely related Horpa varieties, has nevertheless developed into an aberrant system that presents a split pattern between declaratives (“1 > the rest”) and wh-questions/ imperatives (“1 > 2 > 3”). This study explores the development of this split system, and proposes a diachronic analysis of the evolution of the rGyalrongic direct/inverse pattern evidenced by two Nyagrong Minyag dialects Bomei and Manqing. Through careful examination of the Inverse and Person agreement systems in ten varieties from three rGyalrongic subgroups, this paper shows that the two constructions tend to evolve in parallel, decaying in a way that conforms with the hierarchical ranking proposed by the Person Hierarchy. Nyagrong Minyag appears to be an extreme case of such decay, in which first-person marking becomes the last asymmetry to be left on the Person Hierarchy.