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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to investigate the discriminability of two different assimilation types, the Uncategorized-Categorized (UC) and the Uncategorized-Uncategorized assimilation (UU) (Best and Tyler, 2007), as reflected in the discrimination accuracy and reaction times towards non-native contrasts by Russian speakers. The discriminability of these assimilation types varies in the literature. To this purpose, the same Russian speakers who evaluated Greek consonantal contrasts as UC and UU types in an assimilation test of a previous study completed an AXB discrimination test in this study to detect the discriminability of these assimilation types. The findings demonstrated that most of the UU non-overlapping (UU-N) types, and specifically those with focalized-focalized responses, were more accurately discriminated and had faster RTs than the UC non-overlapping (UC-N) type. However, one UU-N type with clustered-clustered responses did not differ in terms of discrimination accuracy and reaction times with the UC-N type. It is suggested that despite having the same overlapping parameters (non-overlapping), UU types might be more discriminable than UC types with respect to consonants. Also, similarity of uncategorized phones with other assimilated phones (e.g., focalized, clustered, dispersed) might shape the UC-UU type relationship. Finally, it is assumed that the discriminability of UC-UU types might be consonant-specific.

Abstract

This paper offers an argument to analyse the Spanish form /a/ as a syncretic case marker for accusative differential object marking (dom) and dative. The literature on free relative clauses has established that syncretism allows the repair of feature mismatches arising from contradictory selectional requirements between the matrix and the embedded predicates. By combining clitic left dislocation constructions (CLLD) and free relatives, it is shown here that dom and dative grant the same repairing effect in Spanish, so it follows that they must be syncretic categories. The same type of configuration distinguishes the directional preposition a and the dative case marker, which is taken to indicate that these elements are mere homophones in the language. Furthermore, an analysis of the repairing effect of syncretism is offered.

Abstract

This paper is aimed at testing the Pseudo Relative-First Hypothesis in Spanish, a proposal that may settle the long-standing question of cross-linguistic variation in attachment preferences. This hypothesis predicts that whenever a Pseudo Relative (PR) is obtainable, it will be preferred for parsing over a genuine relative clause (RC). Assuming that PRs only allow for high attachment (HA), it follows that HA will be obtained when a PR is possible. To test this hypothesis, two experiments previously conducted in Italian will be replicated in Spanish with sentences containing PR-ambiguous and unambiguous RCs. In experiment 1 PR-availability is manipulated by modifying structural conditions, while in experiment 2 the PRs are only manipulated through semantic conditions. The results obtained show that PR-possible contexts do not yield the predicted HA. It will be argued that this finding, together with the data provided by the Italian experiments, only partially support the PR-First Hypothesis.

Abstract

This study aims to examine the comprehension of L2 metonymies by Arabic-speaking EFL learners and to investigate the extent to which the participants’ L1 conceptual and linguistic knowledge of metonymies can affect the processing of L2 metonymies. A comprehension task was administered to elicit data, and the results showed that the participants encountered various degrees of difficulty comprehending different types of metonymies. Though metonymy has been regarded as a universal cognitive device, numerous factors can collaborate to hinder its comprehension process. The researchers argued that the non-conventionality of conceptual metonymies, the non-compositional nature of metonymy processing, the lack of direct exposure to metonymy as a cognitive referential device in L2, and the differences between L1 and L2 possibly contributed to the participants’ faulty answers on the administered test. The study concluded with a set of pedagogical implications and recommendations for further research studies.

Abstract

This paper examines the contributions of lexical context and prosody on the perception of the Slovak particle ‘no’, [nɔ] in IPA. The functional meanings of this discourse marker are similar to those of ‘okay’ in English. Based on a literature review, we expected that the presence of the prosodic cues is not sufficient for decoding the functional meanings. We also explored how biological sex and age affected the perception of ‘no’. We found that both - context and prosody - to a great extent influence the disambiguation of ‘no’, but context provides better information about the function of Slovak ‘no’. Additionally, females and younger adults, compared with males and middle-aged adults, were more sensitive to the cues provided by context than by prosody alone.

Abstract

Since its inception in the second part of the 20th century, the science of language evolution has been exerting a growing and formative pressure on linguistics. More obviously, given its interdisciplinary character, the science of language evolution provides a platform on which linguists can meet and discuss a variety of problems pertaining to the nature of language and ways of investigating it with representatives of other disciplines and research traditions. It was largely in this way that the attention of linguists was attracted to the study of emerging sign languages and gestures, as well as to the resultant reflection on the way different modalities impact communicative systems that use them. But linguistics also benefits from the findings made by language evolution researchers in the context of their own research questions and methodologies. The most important of these findings come out of the experimental research on bootstrapping communication systems and the evolution of communicative structure, and from mass comparison studies that correlate linguists data with a wide range of environmental variables.

Abstract

By considering a specific scenario of early language evolution, here I advocate taking into account one of the most obvious players in the evolution of human language capacity: (sexual) selection. The proposal is based both on an internal reconstruction using syntactic theory, and on comparative typological evidence, directly bringing together, formal, typological, and evolutionary considerations. As one possible test case, transitivity is decomposed into evolutionary primitives of syntactic structure, revealing a common denominator and the building blocks for crosslinguistic variation in transitivity. The approximations of this early grammar, identified by such a reconstruction, while not identical constructs, are at least as good proxies of the earliest stages of grammar as one can find among tools, cave paintings, or bird song. One subtype of such “living fossils” interacts directly with biological considerations of survival, aggression, and mate choice, while others clearly distinguish themselves in fMRI experiments. The fMRI findings are consistent with the proposal that the pressures to be able to master ever more and more complex syntax were at least partly responsible for driving the selection processes which gradually increased the connectivity of the Broca’s-basal ganglia network, crucial for syntactic processing, among other important functions.

Abstract

The topic of this paper is the interaction of aspectual verb coding, information content and lengths of verbs, as generally stated in Shannon’s source coding theorem on the interaction between the coding and length of a message. We hypothesize that, based on this interaction, lengths of aspectual verb forms can be predicted from both their aspectual coding and their information. The point of departure is the assumption that each verb has a default aspectual value and that this value can be estimated based on frequency – which has, according to Zipf’s law, a negative correlation with length. Employing a linear mixed-effects model fitted with a random effect for LEMMA, effects of the predictors’ DEFAULT – i.e. the default aspect value of verbs, the Zipfian predictor FREQUENCY and the entropy-based predictor AVERAGE INFORMATION CONTENT – are compared with average aspectual verb form lengths. Data resources are 18 UD treebanks. Significantly differing impacts of the predictors on verb lengths across our test set of languages have come to light and, in addition, the hypothesis of coding asymmetry does not turn out to be true for all languages in focus.

Abstract

The anonymous peer review is an unpublished pre-publication review which evaluates research articles submitted to journals. This type of a review plays a special role in the genre landscape of Anglophone research by ensuring its appropriate quality and ethical standards. By performing this role, the peer review also realizes a didactic potential, as it motivates researchers to improve their investigations. This paper extends the existing research on the anonymous peer review and aims to deepen our understanding of this genre by analysing the overall functional organization of peer review texts and their prominent linguistic features shaped by three communicative functions ‒ “gatekeeping”, evaluative, and didactic. It also attempts to compare the characteristics of peer reviews in two research fields ideologically and epistemologically distant from each other ‒ applied linguistics and applied mathematics. The methodological framework of the study combines Swales’s move analysis and a functional stylistic perspective developed within the East European linguistic context. The analysis has revealed a three-move structure of review texts and disclosed the roles of interpersonal markers, evaluative lexis and four types of directives in the realization of the communicative functions of the genre. The typologies of reviewers’ comments and evaluative acts in reviews have also been suggested. Furthermore, the study has brought to light some quantitative and qualitative differences between the texts in two disciplines. It is anticipated that awareness of the linguistic conventions of anonymous peer reviews analysed in the paper will help researchers to perceive this genre as a valuable source of professional assistance and enlightenment.