Working Papers in Linguistics - 2009

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    Issues in the quantitative approach to speech rhythm comparisons
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2009-12-01) Stojanovic, Diana
    This paper explores issues related to the quantitative approach to characterizing linguistic rhythm. In particular, it highlights challenges faced by the method in which rhythmic similarity is evaluated by use of rhythm metrics. Predictions made in this paper for the success of such metrics in classifying languages agree with the results in the literature. Explanations are proposed for the cases where discrepancies occur between the results in the literature and the predictions made based on the rhythm-class hypothesis. Criticisms of the current approach lead to a proposed model of perception of speech rhythm and several methods by which perceived rhythmic differences could be quantified more successfully.
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    When Do Understanders Mentally Simulate Locations?
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2009-11-01) Liu, Nian
    A leading embodied account of language processing proposes that comprehending a piece of language en-tails performing mental simulations of its content. Experimental studies have shown that understanders mentally simulate aspects of space, including axis of motion and location along the vertical axis. However, one widely cited study (Glenberg and Kaschak 2002) found that no evidence that processing sentences about motion towards or away from the body activated spatial representations of the corresponding loca-tions, whether the motion was concrete or abstract. If this is true, it poses a substantial challenge to simula-tion-based theories of language understanding. I conducted an experiment that replicated most of Glenberg and Kaschak’s method, in an attempt to determine under what conditions understanders mentally simulate the locations of described events. Results showed, first, that progressive sentences appear to induce more mental simulation, including simulation of spatial location, than perfect sentences do. And second, people mentally simulate the locations implied by concrete and abstract language differently.
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    The Emergence of Mandarin Metaphors for the Internet
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2009-10-01) Polley, Carl
    Conceptual metaphors underlie many of the everyday expressions we use when describing novel technology. For example, the primary metaphor IDEAS ARE OBJECTS establishes broad links between abstract and concrete domains of experience, thus licensing complex metaphors of “movement” and “exchange” of ideas through communication. Few empirical studies have focused on how novel conceptual metaphors emerge in everyday language. This paper reports the results of a corpus study, based on a 138-million-character sample of news reports from Mainland China, which charts the time course for the emergence of Mandarin metaphors for the Internet from 1994 to 2002.
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    Incongruity Triggers the Search for a Metonymic Map
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2009-10-01) Perla, Jawee
    Metonymy is a linguistic process in which the name of a salient attribute, part, or function of a particular domain is used to refer to another part of the same domain. Because salient character-istics can be used to activate other referents within a semantic domain, (Lakoff 1987, Deane 1991), sometimes these tags can be used metonymically, even in novel instances (e.g., The man scolded the truck at the intersection). Such sentences may depend on an immediate “animacy incongruity effect” between the verb phrase (scolded) and the direct object (truck) to trigger the metonymic construal. In canonically ordered sentences, the incongruity is recognized on the metonym itself, but what happens when the metonym is fronted? This study presents evidence that the incongruity trigger is a central part of metonymic sense resolution, regardless of where it appears in the sentence.
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    Bangkok Thai Tones Revisited
    (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, 2009-09-01) Thepboriruk, Kanjana
    There is a long tradition of studying Thai tones, beginning with the works of Cornelius Bradley (1909 and 1911) and Daniel Jones (1918, in Henderson 1976). The landmark work in Thai tonal description was done by Abramson in 1962. Both linguists and Thai language teachers alike consider the 1962 description to be the prescriptive standard and norm today. In 2006, Morén and Zsiga provided a de.scription of Thai tones that many scholars in the field consider controversial, as it differs greatly from Abramson 1962. The current study offers a preliminary look at the state of Bangkok tones today as spoken by twenty-five female native speakers from three different age groups: Younger (18–24), Middle (30–40), and Older (50+). The current study shows preliminary evidence toward a change in progress for Bangkok Thai tone production, particularly in tone shapes across the three age groups examined. Younger speakers show a general trend toward a higher tonal onset for the Mid and Low tones, as well as a later pitch change for both the Falling and Rising tones.