5Dec 2022
06:30 UTC


5Dec 2022 06:30 UTC Local time *

Me vs them: teen outlooks on language use

Mari-Liis Korkus (University of Tartu)

Using interviews conducted with teenage Swedish Estonians, I will explore which recurring ideas emerged from discussing teen language. Results signal differences in how speakers perceive themselves and others.

Using interviews conducted with teenage Swedish Estonians, I will explore which recurring ideas emerged from discussing teen language. Results signal differences in how speakers perceive themselves and others.
In recent years, youth language has been explored in various contexts, with the primary goal to describe which features less present in the speech of adults can be found in their language. By contrasting teens and adults, we mainly look at language use from a distance.
In these series of tweets, I will be exploring a more internal perspective and describe how teenagers themselves view their language and that of their peers. This overview is based on a small dataset; therefore, it should be considered more as an insightful commentary than a generalization. The data comes from semi-structured interviews with four Swedish Estonian bilingual teenagers (aged 12-17). The interviews were conducted as a pilot project for an ongoing study on the speakers' spoken language use. Using qualitative content analysis, I look at interview segments where speakers reflect on language usage topics.
Findings show that youth perspectives vary and depend on their background. However, some parallel remarks can be made. All four speakers contrasted how they versus others speak. When asked to name specific linguistic features, the speakers were prone to notice what makes them sound multilingual (e.g. code-switching) rather than teen-like.

#Teens are known as #language users who tend to adapt to #linguistic innovations more actively than other age groups. In my 'tweet talk' 🐦💬, I will briefly look into the question of how teens view their language and that of their peers. #linguistweets #linguisTW0630 🧵 1/6
5Dec 2022 06:45 UTC Local time *

Linguistics education in the workplace: Analysis of interviews

Lauren Gawne (La Trobe University )

Co-author: Anuja Cabraal

This paper summarises employability experiences of people who studied linguistics. We present a thematic analysis of 51 interviews with a diverse range of individuals, looking at domain-specific and transferable skills and highlighting common advice offered in the interviews.

Students who study linguistics end up in a wide range of occupations. Data from the UK and Australia has shown that students in less directly vocational courses tend to take longer to end up in full-time employment (Treffers-Daller and Sakel 2010), in part because of the general nature of their skills (British Academy 2004, QILT 2019), however it is precisely general critical thinking skills that are cited as the most in demand from employers (British Academy 2020).
This paper summarises post-study employability experiences of linguistics students. This paper summarises a thematic analysis of 51 interviews with a diverse range of individuals who studied linguistics and went on to work in a diverse range of occupations. We look at the domain-specific and transferable skills reported and highlight common advice offered in the interviews. We conclude with some suggestions for how linguistics programs help their students to think about careers.

Linguistics education in the workplace: Analysis of interviews #linguistweets This is a summary of work with @AnujaCabraal . In this 🧵 we’ll look at: ✨ how people use linguistics at work ✨ the advice people share ✨ how educators can help students think about careers (1/6)
5Dec 2022 07:00 UTC Local time *

Your /p/ reveals your priorities if you are bilingual

Danil Pitolin (Ural Federal University )

Co-authors: Alina Lozovskaya, Ekaterina Timoshenko

The research looks into the Voice Onset Time in plausive consonants in Late Russian-English bilinguals. The bilinguals shift towards their L2(English) overperforming the monolingual norm trying to sound more native-like.

There are several articulatory parameters that have a distinct difference in Russian and English. The dynamics of a language shift can be estimated by comparing their values against the monolingual ones. One of them that is distinct and measurable is Voice Onset Time (VOT). It has been studied at either from the phonetic side accounting mostly to its acoustic features (Dmitrieva et al. 2020; Ringen & Kulikov 2012) or in the speech of heritage Russian speakers or
balanced bilinguals (Nagy & Kochetov 2013). Yet the current study is to describe VOT after voiceless plosive consonants in Late Russian English bilinguals.
Firstly, 13 Russian native speakers who had been living in English-speaking countries for at least 6 months were interviewed both in Russian and in English. In every interview consonants /p/, /t/, /k/ were measured 15 times each, overall providing 1170 tokens. Then the tokens are analyzed against evaluation of VOT in monolingual Russian (Ringen & Kulikov 2012) and English (Rae 2018).
It was found out that VOT in Russian and English speech of the participants had undergone convergence in both languages yet not symmetrically. In English /t/ and /k/ mean values are lower than the ones of monolingual speakers which can be explained by the influence of L1. Yet on average VOT for /p/ is slightly above the usual one. Generally speaking, English VOT somewhat showed the influence of Russian articulatory habits. In Russian the changes were more prominent. All the considered sounds had a longer VOT than in Russian monolingual speakers.
VOT of /p/ is twice higher than for standard Russian, for /t/ it is more than 1.5 times higher, /k/ does not share the extent of deviation but still surpasses the average for people not exposed to English.
The convergence of both languages in VOT was found to be asymmetrical. However, the changes in speakers’ L1 under the influence of L2 are much more pronounced. It can be inferred that trying to shift into English language environment and not being exposed to Russian the late bilinguals make more attempt to follow English articulatory norms.

How can we get into bilingual's mind to find out how two languages interact? Obviously, there is no direct method, so we have to look for clues #linguisTW0700 #linguistweets 1/6
5Dec 2022 07:15 UTC Local time *

The Last Ring Ladies of Sarawak, Malaysia: A Lesson of Cultural Documentation

Dr Teresa W. S. Ong (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

This paper discusses two approaches (film documentary & mural painting) for Bidayuh indigenous cultural documentation in Malaysia. It argues that the process should not be undervalued because it provides opportunities for community engagement, learning and speaking their language, and understanding cultural traditions.

The Bidayuh indigenous community is one of the main ethnic communities living in Sarawak, Malaysia. Most of them live in the Bidayuh Belt located at the western end of the state. Traditionally, the Bidayuhs practised animism and paid great respect to lands, mountains, forests, and rivers because they were involved with hill paddy planting, which generated their source of income. In recent years, many shifted to planting cash crops and rearing animals to ensure a sustainable income. They also began converting to Christianity due to the introduction of formal education and modern medicine, which resulted in them adopting Christian names and celebrating Christian festivals. The Bidayuhs observe a close-knit lifestyle – they usually live together in longhouses built in the mountains, which provided protection against attacks from the Iban indigenous community. They speak the Bidayuh language, which entails of four main dialects and 29 sub-dialects, although none are mutually intelligible. Due to the many varieties, they encountered challenges in standardising their language, posing a threat for survival. Hence, efforts have been made to ensure its development and revitalisation. The Dayak Bidayuh National Association, with support from
the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), established a unified orthography for the Bidayuh language vowels. In 2006, SIL and UNESCO started introducing Bidayuh as medium of instruction in kindergartens. As funding began ceasing, the kindergartens had to rely on public donations to fund the teachers’ remuneration and teaching materials. Because many young Bidayuhs have moved to Kuching (capital city of Sarawak) or other parts of Malaysia
for better job opportunities, they rarely speak their language, which resulted in them to practise less of their cultural traditions. Little is known regarding the faith of these traditions and therefore, this paper fills in the gap by discussing the approaches for cultural documentation.
The first approach is through film documentary. From 2015 to 2018, director Nova Goh filmed a documentary of the last ring ladies from the Bi’embhan sub-ethnic group of the Bidayuh community. The documentary highlights these ladies carrying the tradition of paad padi (bringing home paddy from the field) while wearing ruyank’ng and rasunk’ng (gold-coloured copper rings worn on the forearms and calves). It also features renowned fashioned
designed, Leng Lagenda, recreating their costume to suit a contemporary bridal collection.
The second approach is through mural painting. In 2020, artist Leonard Siaw captured the remaining five ring ladies in his mural. The ladies were seen wearing their traditional costume and practising their natural habit of chewing betel leaves, a tradition of thousands of years.
This paper concludes that cultural documentation should not be undervalued because the process involves opportunities for engaging with the indigenous community, speaking and learning their language, and understanding the cultural traditions. Without such documentation, the younger and future generations will not know of the existence of these cultural traditions that have been carried on for generations. Therefore, this paper serves as a wake-up call for documenting cultural traditions of any ethnic communities in which the process is mutigenerational and never ends because every effort will be met with new challenges and larger goals.

#linguistweets #linguisTW0715 1. Have you ever pondered on the implications for indigenous communities when their languages are threatened and cultural traditions are rarely practised? My study discusses efforts made for Bidayuh indigenous cultural documentation in Malaysia.
5Dec 2022 07:30 UTC Local time *

Out of sight, out of mind: The pseudo-genericity of German role nouns

Dominic Schmitz (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany)

Co-authors: Viktoria Schneider,, Janina Esser

German masculine role nouns are used generically to refer to people of any gender. In recent years this generic usage has led to discussions on the existence of a male bias. I present findings from discriminative learning which back the existence and allow insight into said bias.

Masculine generics in German have long been considered to be gender-neutral (Doleschal, 2002). However, despite their neutrally intended usage, research of the last decades has repeatedly shown that masculine generics apparently are not neutral but biased towards a masculine reading (e.g. Koch, 2021; Misersky et al., 2019). How can this discrepancy between usage and meaning be explained?
Using a method novel to this area of research, we explored this question using linear discriminative learning (LDL; Baayen et al., 2019). LDL follows a discriminative perspective on language, arguing that the relation between form and meaning is fundamentally discriminative (Rescorla & Wagner, 1972). Thus, a word’s semantics emerges by its resonance with the entire lexicon. Semantics entered our LDL implementation via semantic vectors computed by naive discriminative learning (Baayen & Ramscar, 2015) based on a corpus of German news websites. The final LDL implementation allowed for extraction of measures on words’ semantics: comprehension quality, semantic neighbourhood density, and semantic activation diversity.
Taking these measures as well as stereotypicality judgements (Gabriel et al., 2008) to account for potential influences of stereotypicality, a multinomial regression analysis was conducted. The dependent variable was the type of word (masculine generic, masculine explicit, feminine explicit), while the measures and judgements were introduced as predictors. For stereotypicality, no significant effect was found. The LDL measures, however, showed
significant effects. Both masculine forms come with significantly higher comprehension quality and denser semantic neighbourhoods. Feminine forms showed significantly higher levels of semantic activation diversity in the singular and significantly lower levels of semantic activation diversity in the plural. Overall, masculine and feminine forms were significantly different in their semantic features, while masculine generics and explicits were highly similar.
The present results not only confirm the masculine bias of masculine generics, but puts forward an explanation to its source. That is, masculine generics are semantically highly similar to masculine explicits, which in turn is a result of their resonance with the entire lexicon. This then results in an overall biased reading towards the masculine.

#linguistweets #linguisTW0730 Are masculine generics in German truly generic or are they, in the end, just masculine explicits in disguise? We tackled this question using 'discriminative learning', a framework which has been shown to meaningfully model human behaviour.
5Dec 2022 07:45 UTC Local time *

Controversal -ly

Martin Schäfer (Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf)

Comparing ‘quick decisions’ and ‘decide quickly’, the pair decide/decision is clearly an instance of word formation by derivation. But what about quick/quickly? Should this not better be treated as inflection? And what is the role of adjective class here?

Inflection and derivation are central concepts in morphology. Inflection characterizes the relationship between
different forms of the same lexeme (bright-brighter-brightest), derivation the relation between lexemes (bright-brightness). In standard English grammars (Biber et al. 1999, Huddleston & Pullum 2002), the -ly in brightly is derivational. But in most theoretical accounts, the same -ly is argued to be inflectional (Giegerich 2012, Pittner 2014), or simply not categorizable (Bauer et al. 2013). This thread, drawing on Schäfer (to appear), presents the core problem that makes the classification controversial, and argues, based on distributional semantics analyses, that the heterogenuity of the adjective classes involved is a further point to consider.

There is agreement that the central feature distinguishing -ly and non-ly forms is that -ly forms can only be used as adverbials, while non-ly forms can’t. But this does not rule out an inflectional analysis. While the positive and superlative forms of English adjectives add independent meaning and are clear examples of inherent inflection, the -ly forms can be analysed as contextual inflection, inflection that is required by the syntactic context alone. Proponents of derivational and inflectional analyses both consider the lexcial meanings of the two forms to be the same. While this speaks for an inflectional approach, I show that actually the lexical meanings require different kinds of adaptions across different adjective classes. Human propensity adjectives (“intelligent”, “stupid”) naturally go together with animate objects, which are prototypical noun referents. In contrast, speed adjectives (“quick”, “swift”),
naturally go together with events, prototypical verb referents. The class differences show traces in distributional semantic comparisons. I argue that this heterogenuity is plausibly behind the preferences of some authors for an inflectional and others for a derivational analysis.

The relation between 'quick' and 'quickly' is traditionally described as derivation, but more recently as inflection. What is the difference between the two, what is the role of word class here, and how can we investigate this further? #linguistweets #linguisTW0745
5Dec 2022 08:00 UTC Local time *

Linguistic repositories as asset

Raquel Freitag (Universidade Federal de Sergipe)

Linguistic description requires a large amount of linguistic data for describing processes, varieties, and languages, validating linguistic theories, and even defining standard grammar. Let’s talk about projects to build linguistic documentation repositories?

Linguistic description requires a large amount of linguistic data for describing processes, varieties, and languages, validating linguistic theories, and even defining standard grammar. For minority or non-hegemonic languages, good quality authentic linguistic data is not always available, and it is not always easily accessible either. When it is possible, it is often organized into unsystematic repositories, linguistic data collections.
An analogy with seed vaults supports the professionalism of this process. The Global Seed Vault is in the Arctic Circle in Norway’s Svalbard islands. It is a structure dug into the ground with chambers at 100m that keeps the seeds at  18°C. The storage structure provides long-term storage. As in a bank, specimens are deposited; wheat, rice, and potatoes are the species with the most specimens. A seed bank for the storage of species may be used to restore food security, as in the case of threats such as cataclysms, wars, or even destruction by poverty. Because of the war in Syria, the seed vault in Aleppo has requested the opening of the Global Seed Vault. Seed vaults may also be considered as a heritage of genetic diversity of plant crops, almost a biblical Noah’s ark. Just as there are species seeds that respond to the food demand of humanity, there are also species stores in its evolutionary spectrum. The same logic can be applied to languages: currently, Ethnologue’s inventory of the number of documented living languages in the world points to a figure of close to 7,000. However, languages are being lost in a process called "language death". Each language that dies is a culture that is lost. In a process of dominance that erases cultures, a small number of
languages, the hegemonic languages, compute a large number of speakers. This process seems like a Tower of Babel in reverse. And contrary to the biblical myth, homogeneity is not a positive for languages. Language is a patrimony that allows access to the cultural assets of peoples and nations.
The analogy with the need to save seeds is the starting point for reflections about language and the transformation of linguistic data collections into linguistic repositories. There are challenges to be overcome in proposing a standardized and professional language repository to host the collections of linguistic data arising from the reported projects, in accordance with the principles of the Open Science movement. Thinking about the sustainability of projects to build linguistic documentation repositories, partnerships with the information technology area, or even with private companies, could minimize problems of obsolescence and safeguarding of data by promoting the circulation and automation of analysis through natural language processing algorithms. This series of planning actions may help to promote the longevity of the linguistic documentation repositories.

Linguistic description requires a large amount of linguistic data for describing processes, varieties, and languages, validating linguistic theories, and even defining standard grammar. Let’s talk about linguistic repositories? #linguistweets #liguisTW0800 https://doi.org/10.1108/EL-02-2022-0025
5Dec 2022 08:15 UTC Local time *

Language and Music in the Crib

Alan Langus (University of Potsdam, Germany)

Co-authors: Natalie Boll-Avetisyan, Sandrien van Ommen, Thierry Nazzi

Experience with music benefits the perception of spoken language. However, can early exposure to music also benefit language acquisition during the first months of life? We show that musical activities at home are correlated with 6-mo infants’ ability to perceive linguistic rhythm under conditions of variability.

Rhythm in speech and music emerges from the alternation of prominent elements with non-prominent ones so that pitch/intensity signal initial and duration final prominence (Lerdahl & Jackendoff, 1983; Nespor et al., 2008; Langus et al., 2017). However, in the speech signal, these acoustic cues also tend to co-vary dynamically depending on the location of prominence in sentences (Shattuck-Hufnagel & Turk, 1998). Therefore, to perceive suprasegmental rhythm, young infants could benefit from perceiving the covariation of the acoustic cues signaling prominence as categorical. We hypothesize that the ability is domain-general (Liberman, 1967) and should, therefore, be subject to cross-domain effects of experience with spoken language as well as music already during the first year of life (Patel, 2011).
Six-month-old German-learning infants (N=31) listened to trials (N=99) consisting of four instances of the word ‘gaba’ chosen from a lexical stress continuum that co-varied pitch, duration, and intensity cues from trochaic (word-initial) to iambic (word-final). The first three instances provided the context, and the fourth instance the test. We reasoned that Categorical Perception (CP) would entail infants discriminating between-category items from within-
category items and failing to discriminate between within-category items. We assessed the domain-generality of the ability through a questionnaire detailing early exposure to language and music at home through a parental questionnaire.
We show that infants as a group failed to perceive the co-variation of pitch, intensity, and duration as categorical. CP was only observed in infants who had above-average exposure to music or language at home, with the strongest effects of CP observed in infants who had high language as well as musical experience. Early exposure to language and music may, therefore, help young infants to finetune domain-general perceptual mechanisms for perceiving suprasegmental rhythm in spoken language and possibly in music.

Years of experience with music can boost our ability to perceive spoken language. Could early exposure to linguistic and musical activities at home also boost young infants’ ability to perceive speech rhythm under conditions of variability? #linguistweets #linguisTW0815 (1/6)
5Dec 2022 08:30 UTC Local time *

Cognitive and genetic correlates of crosslinguistic variation

A.Benítez-Burraco (Universidad de Sevilla)

Co-authors: Candy Cahuana, Sihan Chen, David Gil, Ljiljana Progovac, Jana Reifegerste, Tatiana Tatarinova

Languages features can be shaped by sociopolitical features, with this effect resulting in a differential exploitation of neurobiological resources (procedural vs declarative memory), and perhaps, in genetic differences between speakers of different language types

Evidence exists for a correlation, and perhaps also causation, between specific linguistic and societal features, in particular those relating to exoteric (open) vs. esoteric (close-knit) society types, characterizable in terms of population size, mobility, communication across distances, etc. Broadly speaking, languages associated with exoteric societies, or Type A languages, have been reported to exhibit less complex phonologies and morphologies, but more complex and more layered syntaxes, with more specialized and obligatory grammaticalized distinctions, while languages associated with esoteric societies, or Type B languages, exhibit a complementary clustering of features, including simpler and less layered syntaxes, but more complex phonologies and morphologies, with more irregularity, and more formulaic/memorized language chunks. We conducted an exhaustive quantitative analysis drawing upon WALS, D-Place, Ethnologue and Glottolog. Our preliminary results find partial support for the above
correlations. In general, albeit with some exceptions, Type A languages tend towards more complex morphosyntax and greater expressive power in certain domains, although also towards more complex phonological inventories, while Type B languages tend towards more complex morphology.
Next, we hypothesize that this crosslinguistic variation entails differential involvement of declarative versus procedural memories. Procedural memory subserves the acquisition of compositional, automated, rule-governed (grammatical) aspects of language, while declarative memory typically subserves vocabulary learning and irregular phenomena across domains, including memorized, opaque, formulaic language (e.g. idioms and proverbs). While both memory systems are essential for language (with partly overlapping/redundant functions), and while both language types certainly rely on both memories, our hypothesis is that predominantly Type A languages rely more on procedural memory, while predominantly Type B languages, in comparison, rely more on declarative memory. For testing this, we are conducting standard cognitive experiments measuring the relative strengths of the two memory types with speakers of Type A vs. Type B languages. Also, because these two types of memories depend on brain regions whose emergence is genetically guided during development, another way of testing our hypothesis is by seeking correlations between the Type A/Type B linguistic distinction, and the frequency in the population of the candidate gene alleles supporting different memory types. Since cognitive biases can be linked to (epi)genetic modifications, any differential reliance with respect to the two types of memories is expected to be detectable in differences in the allele frequencies of specific genes. At present, we have found differences between speakers of Type A and Type B languages with regards to genes involved in synapse organization subserving relevant brain functions.

Which causal links (if any) exist between specific language features and specific sociopolitical traits? = are languages shaped by societal features? #linguistweets #linguisTW0830
5Dec 2022 08:45 UTC Local time *

To be or not to be a populist. An analysis of how populism is (re-)signified on social media

Laura Filardo-Llamas (Universidad de Valladolid)

Co-authors: Nadezda Shchinova (Université Catholique de Louvain), Barbara De Cock (Université Catholique de Louvain), Philippe Hambye (Université Catholique de Louvain)

This paper studies uses of the term “populist” in a corpus of tweets posted in 2019 includingthe clause “I am not populist” in four different languages. It will answer two research questions: i. how the meaning of the term is recontextualised and negotiated, and ii. how this relates to the individual’s subjective positioning.

Contemporary studies of populism have focused on what characterises populist discourse and the socio-political factors leading to the rise of such kind of discourses (Moffitt, 2016; Mudde, 2007) . While many studies have looked at the discursive construction of “populism” and “anti-populism” (Brown & Mondon, 2021; De Cleen et al., 2018) , seldom have these studies relied on linguistics to explain the ubiquitous use of the term “populism”. While some study can be found on derogatory uses of the term “populist”, to our knowledge there is no study explaining how this “anti-populism” trend is linguistically created or how this feeling is recontextualised by users who might have been accused of being populists.
Thus, this paper shifts the focus from how politicians – or people in power – may use this term to how individuals construe it, when negating or contesting being or acting like populists. To do so, we have analysed a corpus of tweets posted during the year 2019 and which include the clause “I am not populist” (or variants of it) in four different languages: Spanish, English, French and Dutch. The analysis of the corpus intends to answer two research questions: i. explaining how the meaning of the term “populism” is recontextualised and negotiated in social media, and ii. explaining how the meaning of the term “populism” relates to the individual’s subjective positioning in social media and how that relates to the activation of particular interpretive frames in different contexts.
Following previous studies on how the structure “I am X” is used on social media (De Cock & Pizarro Pedraza, 2018; Pizarro Pedraza & De Cock,2018) , the analysis is performed on two levels. On the one hand, content analysis is done for quantifying the worldviews twitter users align or misalign with when neglecting their identity as populists. On the other hand, a systematic study has been done of the different forms that are used when using negation in these tweets. These include an explanation of the conversational function of the tweet (Body et al. 2010), the position of negation in the tweet and the kind of relations that are established between the different clauses surrounding it. The double-layered analysis can thus not only help us explain discursive uses of “populism”, but also how negation contributes to creating representational meaning and to building interpersonal relations (Hengeveld & Mackenzie 2018). Finally, we will point out language-specific features of the use of “I am not populist”, both in terms of quantity and quality.

What is the meaning of “populist”? How is it used to refer to the self? Does negation influence our identity construction? Our analysis of uses of “I’m not populist” in #Twitter in the 🧵below #linguistweets #linguisTW0845 with @nadia_shchinova , #PhilippeHambye @BarbaraDeCock