Rice Working Papers in Linguistics, volume 4

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    Colloquial Singapore English never
    (Rice University, 2013-11) Leong Xue Wei, Amelia; Linguistics Department
    Negation in New Englishes has been a topic of great interest. However, although some general features of negation in New English varieties have been identified, few have investigated specific varieties and accounted for the deviations of usage patterns away from Standard English usage. This paper investigates the use of the Standard English (StdE) emphatic negator never, which has gained non-emphatic functions in Colloquial Singapore English (CSE). CSE never is regularly used to negate single past events, and can function as an aspectual or simple past marker. It is usually used with additional adverbial markers, but can occur alone if both interlocutors are well-informed of the conversational context. The various grammatical/morphosyntactic functions of CSE never were identified through a survey on Chinese CSE speakers’ assessments of the grammaticality of never in various sentences, and compared against those of Hokkien and Cantonese negative constructions bo and mo respectively (very similar to Mandarin mei you). The syntactic and semantic behavior of never in CSE was found to be highly similar to the Hokkien and Cantonese negative constructions. This is expected since the majority of CSE speakers also spoke either Hokkien or Cantonese as their native language, and could have transferred the functions of Hokkien bo and Cantonese mo to CSE never. However, the relation between the two constructs is not always apparent, and the specific functions of CSE never might arguably have arisen as a result of universal patterns of language learning rather than from substrata influence. However, although the surface structure of CSE never appears highly similar to that of never or other specific negation markers in other varieties of New Englishes, a closer look at the detailed functions and usage patterns reveals that these features of CSE never are highly complex, and bear too much resemblance to the unique grammatical patterns of Mandarin mei you to be attributable to universal patterns, or pure coincidence. Instead, the unique usage patterns of CSE never are determined by the discoursal and microlinguistic environment in which they occur, as well as the social context in which the exchange is taking place and the speakers’ motivation.
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    The Typology of Uyghur Harmony and Consonants
    (Rice University, 2013-11) Pattillo, Kelsie E.; Linguistics Department
    Descriptions of Uyghur phonology are unclear as to whether or not the front and back consonant assimilation of velar and uvular stops is a harmonic process (Comrie 1997; De Jong 2007; Engesæth et al. 2010; Friedrich 2002; Hahn 1991, 1998). Data from Uyghur reference materials demonstrate front and back consonant assimilation processes in Uyghur which differ from cross-linguistic consonant harmony as it has been defined and described in the literature (Hansson 2001; Rose and Walker 2004). The data demonstrate that Uyghur consonant assimilation is triggered by vowel harmony, thus it should not be referred to as consonant harmony in future descriptions of Uyghur.
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    You say potato, I say tatws: The terrain of linguistic coexistence in Wales
    (Rice University, 2013-11) Griffin, Jeffrey L.; Linguistics Department
    This study examines the linguistic coexistence in Wales of Welsh and English in public signage and other public spheres and the ongoing normalization of Welsh through a reorientation of the linguistic landscape. Concerted efforts by the now defunct Welsh Language Board, the Welsh language commissioner, the Welsh National Assembly, and other governmental entities have aimed at preserving and promoting the Welsh language. While Welsh is spoken by just a fifth of the population, it is increasingly woven into the sociocultural fabric of contemporary Wales. Given this revitalization, the language is considered by linguists to be a success story in language preservation. This study, which was carried out in Cardiff, the Welsh capital; Conwy, a town in North Wales; and Betws-y-Coed, a village in North Wales, documents the visual contexts in which Welsh appears on the streets and sidewalks, in retail establishments, and in museums and other places of cultural importance. Such symbolic use of a minority language amounts to what one scholar has called “a reorientation of normative space.” One notable finding is that when Welsh appears in the linguistic landscape, in the vast majority of cases, it reflects a top-down process driven by public institutions. Another key finding is that when Welsh and English appear together, typically the lettering is the same size in both languages and the amount of text is about the same. However, in a majority of cases, Welsh is featured more prominently by being displayed above or to the left of the English, although that is much more likely in Conwy or Betws-y-Coed than in Cardiff.
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    Relative clauses in Asante Twi
    (Rice University, 2013-11) McCracken, Chelsea; Linguistics Department
    Relative clauses in Twi, a Niger-Congo language spoken in Ghana, have received little attention in the literature. I examine a corpus of naturally-occurring relative clauses, collected from a native speaker living in Houston, TX, to describe and analyze the tone, morphosyntax, and discourse characteristics of Twi relative clauses. This research also contributes to understanding of the cross-linguistic accessibility of noun phrases to the process of relativization. Based on spectrographic comparison within a set of minimal clauses, I determine that the phonemic form of the relativizer is āà. I examine the “optional” use of the relative clause enclitic no using a framework similar to Fox and Thompson’s (1990, 2007) studies on English relative clauses, concluding that the enclitic is only used in about half of cases and that the conditioning environment depends on a number of discourse factors including the topic-worthiness of the relativized argument and the distance between the head noun and the end of the relative clause. Finally, I examine noun phrase accessibility in Twi according to Keenan and Comrie (1977), finding that Twi relative clauses contradict Keenan and Comrie’s Accessibility Hierarchy Constraints in two respects: Twi resumptive pronouns are obligatory in the relativization of subjects, and the use of the resumptive pronoun strategy in Twi relativization covers a discontinuous portion of the Accessibility Hierarchy.
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    Interrogative particles in Nakh-Daghestanian languages
    (Rice University, 2013-11) Forker, Diana; Linguistics Department
    This paper offers an analysis of interrogative particles in Nakh-Daghestanian languages, covering form, function and position of these particles in a wide range of languages. I show which particles occur in various question types (i.e. polar questions, disjunctive polar questions, WH-questions, etc.) and also amply illustrate the principles according to which the particles are positioned in the clause. The paper is based not only on statements in grammars but primarily on data from natural texts.
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    Real-Time Trends in the Texas English Vowel System: F2 Trajectory in GOOSE as an Index of a Variety's Ongoing Delocalization
    (Rice University, 2013-11) Hinrichs, Lars; Bohmann, Axel; Gorman, Kyle; Linguistics Department
    A complex process of change is underway in the Central Texas English GOOSE vowel. Koops (2010) describes it as the simultaneous operation of two qualitatively different fronting processes. One is a feature of traditional Southern American English (SAE) while the other results from a recent innovation in mainstream American English (MAE). In this paper, we examine a corpus of digital and digitized recordings of Central Texas English (TxE) speech, spanning 30 years in real and 100 in apparent time, to determine the distribution of these two variants of GOOSE throughout the social spectrum. We test two methods for modeling sub-phonemic variation in our dependent variable and perform regression analysis of both linguistic and social factors conditioning this variation. We find, in particular, that women favor the more prestigious MAE variant, suggesting a sound change in progress that aligns TxE more closely with MAE.
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    Front Matter
    (Rice University, 2013-11) RWPL, Vol. 4; Linguistics Department