Selected Papers from New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV 47)

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 17
  • Publication
    What Predicts Pharyngeal Realizations in Bilingual Palestinians' Hebrew?
    (2020-01-15) Gafter, Roey J; Horesh, Uri
    Palestinians in Israel are typically bilingual in Palestinian Arabic and Modern Hebrew. Two pharyngeal segments exist in both languages, exhibiting different variation patterns. Most Jewish speakers of Hebrew replace them with non-pharyngeals, whereas Palestinian speakers generally do produce pharyngeals in Arabic. We analyze the Hebrew component of an Arabic/Hebrew bilingual corpus of sociolinguistic interviews with Palestinian speakers from Jaffa, who produce some pharyngeals in their Hebrew. A multivariate analysis of the Hebrew data shows that higher rates of pharyngeal production in Arabic do not predict higher rates of pharyngeals in Hebrew, suggesting that the Hebrew patterns cannot be attributed solely to linguistic transfer. Taking into account social factors such as medium of education, we argue that the use of pharyngeals is not simply a carryover from Arabic, but rather a socially meaningful resource indexically linked to the speakers’ Arab identity.
  • Publication
    Definite Change Taking Place: Determiner Realization in Multiethnic Communities in New Zealand
    (2020-01-15) Meyerhoff, Miriam; Birchfield, Alexandra; Ballard, Elaine; Charters, Helen; Watson, Catherine
    This paper examines data from three communities in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most ethnically diverse city. The purpose is to determine whether some of the surprising sociolinguistic patterns emerging in communities where there has been extensive immigration generalise to other, similar urban areas. We examine the realisation of 'the' prevocalically (N=747): Standard English prescribes [ði], but [ðə] is generalised for many speakers and this generalization typifies many contact varieties of English. Our research confirms that this variant is a diagnostic of highly mixed communities; it occurs principally in the speech of L1 speakers of English exposed to large numbers of L2 English speakers in the two preceding generations. However, we do not find young men leading the change as they do in London. Our analysis suggests that closer scrutiny of the phonetics of unstressed vowels (usually of little interest in variationist sociolinguistics) is warranted, as the quality of these too and how they interact with other vowels in the system may be subject to intergenerational change.
  • Publication
    Sociolinguistics as a powerful tool to follow the course of a parametric change
    (2020-01-15) Duarte, Maria Eugenia L
    This paper presents a new contrastive analysis of the expression of referential pronominal subjects in European Portuguese (EP) and Brazilian Portuguese (BP), based on two recent samples, recorded in Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro, in 2009-2010, according to the same social stratification. The results reinforce EP’s status of a “consistent” Null Subject Language (NSL) (Roberts and Holmberg, 2010) and allow to follow the change in course in BP by offering answers to the empirical problems posed by Weinreich, Labov and Herzog (1968), particularly those related to the constraints and to the embedding of the change. Inherently human referents have been the most remarkable feature in the process, since 2nd person overt subjects lead the change and reveal an almost complete stage. The slower course of the change with 3rd person referents confirms the role of animacy in the process: [+human/+animate] subjects are preferably overt, whereas [-animate] subjects show more resistance in spite of a significant rise in the rate of overt pronouns when compared to a sample of the same speech community recorded in 1992. A multivariate analysis of 3rd person in both varieties points out the same structural relevant factors constraining overt/null subjects: the structural pattern (function of the antecedent), the cluster of semantic features of the referent (animacy and specificity) and the structure of the Complementizer Phrase (CP). The comparison allows to claim that the multivariate analysis is a powerful instrument to understand the internal factors controlling [+/- prodrop] systems. Even though rates of overt subjects are significantly higher in BP, already outnumbering null subjects in every structural environment (contrary to what is found for EP), Relative Weights obtained reveal the same effects in both varieties. Moreover, the analysis reveals some important evidence of the embedding of the change, in the present case, supporting the hypothesis of the resetting of the Parameter value by BP – from a NSL to a non-NSL.
  • Publication
    Prosodic Variation and Rootedness in Appalachian English
    (2020-01-15) Reed, Paul E
    In his description of the speech of residents of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, Hall (1942) made some tantalizing references to prosodic variation that he claims to be characteristic of the Appalachian region. He observed, 'the great force with which the stressed syllables are uttered results in an abnormal weakening of the unstressed syllables' (44). This observation suggests that rhythm and prosody could be sources of social variation among Southern varieties of American English. Building upon this suggestion, Reed (2018) found that Appalachian rhythm was distinct from a non-Appalachian Southern variety in that it was more stress-timed. Thus, the present paper seeks to determine if there is prosodic variation within this Appalachian variety. Prosodic rhythm differences have been noted in many national, regional, and social varieties of English. In varieties of North American English, Thomas and Carter (2006) found that prosodic rhythm distinguished several varieties of English spoken in North Carolina, with Hispanic English and Jamaican English more syllable-timed than European American or African American Englishes. However, early African American English from ex-slave recordings was more syllable-timed than later varieties. Coggshall (2008) found that the English spoken by the Eastern Cherokee in North Carolina was more syllable-timed than their European American cohorts. Clopper and Smiljanic (2015) found differences in rhythm between Southern speakers and Northern and Western speakers. Thus, prosodic rhythm can be a fruitful area for variation. The present study analyzes the prosodic rhythm from 24 (12 male and 12 female) Appalachian English speakers from northeastern Tennessee, balanced for age and education level (college vs. non-college). The data are comprised of reading passages collected during sociolinguistic/oral history interviews. Each passage was orthographically transcribed and then force-aligned. The durations of adjacent syllables were calculated using the normalized Pairwise Variability Indices (nPVI) adapted from the procedure outlined in Grabe and Low (2002). This measure provides a quantifiable measure of the durational variability (what was once called stress-timed versus syllable- timed). Greater variability in adjacent syllables indicates more stress-timing, or a greater difference in stressed and unstressed syllables. Preliminary results suggest that the Appalachian speakers are distinct from a cohort of Southern speakers from Clopper and Pisoni (2006). Further, preliminary findings indicate that speakers with a greater attachment to place, what I term 'rootedness', have a greater nPVI than that of less rooted speakers. These results suggest that prosodic rhythm might be a productive means to 'sound Appalachian', differentiating from other Southern American English varieties in being more stress-timed. Further, these results indicate that rhythm might also be a dynamic means of signaling one's attachment to the local Appalachian area, highlighting one's rootedness within the region, as those speakers with greater rootedness had a greater nPVI. Thus, prosodic rhythm can serve to distinguish regional varieties, even closely related ones such as Appalachian and Southern Englishes. Further, rhythm can be used within communities to reflect meaningful social categories.
  • Publication
    Where our Fathers are from: Place and Conflict in Sociolinguistic Borrowing
    (2020-01-15) Sneller, Betsy
    In this paper, I set sociolinguistic meaning and phonological borrowing within the specific local geography of speakers in a community. The social practices of these speakers collide with ideology in a particular physical space: a single neighborhood park that serves as a neighborhood boundary between Black and white residents in a Philadelphia neighborhood, which in turn emerges in the white speakers’ ideologies as a place that is both maximally local and is the site of contact with the maximally extralocal. I argue that the interleaving of social meanings within the park and the regular interracial conflict within it result in the indexical de-linking of (TH)-fronting from African American English (AAE) and the indexical strengthening of this feature with toughness, enabling white Philadelphia English speakers to adopt this (TH)-fronting as an index of tough via conflict with their AAE speaking neighbors.
  • Publication
    Weak Hand Variation in Philadelphia ASL: A Pilot Study
    (2020-01-15) Tamminga, Meredith; Fisher, Jami; Hochgesang, Julie
    In this pilot study of variation in Philadelphia ASL, we connect two forms of weak hand variability to the diachronic location asymmetries that Frishberg 1975 observed for changes between one- and two-handed sign realizations. We hypothesize that 1) variable weak hand involvement is a pathway for change from one- to two-handed and thus should be more frequent for body signs than head signs, and 2) variable weak hand lowering is a pathway for change from two- to one-handed and thus should be more frequent for head signs than body signs. Conversational data from four signers provides quantitative support for hypothesis (1) but not (2). We additionally observe differences in weak hand height based on sign location and one/two-handedness. The results motivate further work to investigate the possibility that weak hand involvement is a mechanism for diachronic change in sign languages.
  • Publication
    (2020-01-15) Purse, Ruaridh; White, Yosiane
    The University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics (PWPL) is an occasional series published by the Penn Graduate Linguistics Society. The series has included volumes of previously unpublished work, or work in progress, by linguists with an ongoing affiliation with the Department, as well as volumes of papers from NWAV and the Penn Linguistics Colloquium/Conference. This volume contains selected papers from New Ways of Analyzing Variation 47 (NWAV 47), held October 18-21, 2018 in New York City, NY, at NYU. Thanks go to Johanna Benz, Spencer Caplan, Gwen Hildebrandt, Jordan Kodner, Aini Li, Daoxin Li, Hassan Munshi, Lefteris Paparounas, Nari Rhee, Caitlin Richter, Jia Tian and Hong Zhang for their help in editing. Since Vol. 14.2, PWPL has been an internet-only publication. As of September 2014, the entire back catalog has been digitized and made available on ScholarlyCommons@Penn. Please continue citing PWPL papers or issues as you would a print journal article, though you may also provide the URL of the manuscript. An example is below: Hall, Erin and Ruth Maddeaux. 2020. /u/-fronting and /æ/-raising in Toronto Families. In University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 25.2, ed. Ruaridh Purse and Yosiane White, 51-60. Available at: Publication in the University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics (PWPL) does not preclude submission of papers elsewhere; copyright is retained by the author(s) of individual papers. The PWPL editors can be contacted at: U. Penn Working Papers in Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, 3401-C Walnut Street, Suite 300, C Wing, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6228 and Ruaridh Purse and Yosiane White, Issue Editors
  • Publication
    How do Listeners Form Grammatical Expectations to African American Language?
    (2020-01-15) Weissler, Rachel Elizabeth; Brennan, Jonathan R
    Ideologies about standard language in the United States often posit Mainstream U.S. English (MUSE) as a morally superior variety (Hill 2008). Previous research has shown that this kind of hierarchical treatment of language varieties leads to negative perceptions of non-standard languages, which in turn makes them stigmatized, and ultimately perpetuates dialect discrimination. This kind of discrimination results in the mistreatment of users of non-standard varieties, which negatively affects the way those speakers can move through the U.S. context (Rickford 1999, Eckert and Rickford 2001, Schilling 2004, Rickford and King 2016). This study investigates how listeners alter their linguistic expectations when hearing speakers of standard and non-standard varieties of English through an Electroencephalography (EEG) experiment. We probe how social information influences syntactic processing to see if and when speakers of a standard dialect, MUSE, form grammatical expectations when processing MUSE and African American Language (AAL). Looking at online processing helps us better understand whether listeners have specific knowledge of the dialect that is not their own (dialect-specific hypothesis), or whether listeners more generally reduce expectations across the board when listening to a dialect or variant that they themselves do not speak (dialect non-specific hypothesis). In order to test the interaction between language variety and auxiliary usage, experimental sentences were constructed in order to reflect a variant that is grammatical in MUSE, a variant that is grammatical uniquely to AAL, and a grammatical variant that is ungrammatical in all varieties of English. The experimental stimuli from a bidialectal Midwestern black speaker of both MUSE and AAL, yielding a within subject 2 (language varieties) by 3 (grammatical features) design. The results do not cleanly favor the dialect-specific nor the dialect non-specific hypothesis. Rather, the evidence points a nuanced version of a mixture of both hypotheses. Through analysis of American English dialects, this work contributes to further understanding of how social information interfaces with online processing, and expectations that may be formed depending on the perceived identity of a voice. The impact of this work is paramount, as perceptions of stigmatized language varieties can lead to dialect discrimination that negatively affects the way those speakers are treated (Rickford 1999, Purnell, Baugh, Idsardi 1999, Eckert and Rickford 2001, Schilling 2004, Rickford and King 2016)
  • Publication
    /u/-fronting and /æ/-raising in Toronto families
    (2020-01-15) Hall, Erin; Maddeaux, Ruth
    This paper examines the acquisition of both stable contextual variation and a change in progress by children aged four to twelve. Comparing children and their parents from 19 families, we investigate whether transmission and incrementation effects (Labov 2001, 2007) can be found in two vowel variables in Toronto English: /ae/-raising, a case of stable allophony, and /u/-fronting, an ongoing change. In /u/-fronting, children are extending the change to new, previously non-fronted environments. However, analysis does not reveal the expected incrementation pattern in which older children are more advanced. Instead we find the opposite: the youngest children are most advanced in the change, while the oldest are the most conservative, having retreated closer to the adult norm but still crucially further forward, allowing the change to progress. In the case of /ae/-raising, children are not extending the variation to new environments. Younger children do consistently overshoot the placement of /ae/ in raising environments, while older children appear to have retreated and stabilized in the same range as their parents, maintaining the contextual variation at the community level. We suggest that these patterns could be viewed as a kind of overgeneralization, similar to what is often seen in morphological acquisition.
  • Publication
    Contrasting Age of Arrival and Length of Residence in Dialect Contact
    (2020-01-15) Oushiro, Livia
    This paper reports on the analyses of a corpus built to disentangle the effects of Age of Arrival and Length of Residence in the dialect contact situation of rural Northeastern migrants living in the Southeastern city of Campinas/Brazil. These dialectal areas differ both in Northern-Southern and in rural-urban linguistic traits. Mixed-effects models of four sociolinguistics variables (i) coda /r/ (porta 'door'); (ii) /t, d/ before [i] (tia 'aunt', dia 'day'); (iii) sentential negation (não vi vs. não vi não/vi não 'I haven't seen'); and (iv) nominal agreement (os menino-s vs. os menino-ø 'the boys') show that Age of Arrival correlates only with the phonetic variables and Length of Residence correlates only with coda /r/. Self-reported identity indices align with the variables' geographical distribution, correlating with coda /r/ and negation (the Northern-Southern variables) but not with /t, d/ and nominal agreement (the rural-urban variables). Thus, while Age of Arrival and Length of Residence distinguish phonetic and morphosyntactic variables, dialect acquisition also involves a complex web of differently defined regional identities.