Linguistics - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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The formal syntax for licensing parenthetical verb clauses

File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-04-14
Supervisor(s): 
Nancy Hedberg
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

This study examines the formal syntax (distributional, configurational and computational properties) of parenthetical verb clauses (henceforth PVCs) in Moroccan Arabic (henceforth MA), which include a first-person subject (denoting speaker) and a cognitive verb such as: think, believe, suppose, guess. These are a sub-set of the speaker-oriented parentheticals of Reinhart (1983), and they denote the attitudes and the point of view of the speaker regarding the validity of the proposition expressed in the host structure they attach to. The examination and analysis of the distributional properties of PVCs provides new empirical insights into the constraints that are at play in licensing the clausal attachment of PVCs to their host structures. It shows that the occurrence of PVCs in the clausal structure of MA is disallowed in 21 types of syntactic contexts, and that the seemingly free distribution of PVCs is not actually free. PVCs’ clausal attachment is shown to be a main clause phenomenon that is sensitive to the clausal makeup of the left periphery in the host structure, more specifically to the availability of an aboutness TopicP functional projection and a realis assertion ForceP functional projection. This configurational constraint is further reduced to an Agree-based feature-valuing computational requirement for the licensing of PVCs. I propose an Agree-based unifying account that derives the TopicP and the ForceP constraints from an underlying syntax-discourse interface constraint, viz., a constraint on how a PVC is required to have its unvalued discourse features Agree-valued by TopicP and ForceP functional projections in the host structure. I supply two sets of empirical evidence to support this unifying account. The first set of evidence draws on the selective (in)sensitivity of the clausal attachment of the PVC to the realization of different types of topic NPs in the left periphery of the host structure. The second set of evidence draws on the dependency between the force of the PVC and the matrix clause. This approach is shown to be able to account, with zero stipulations, for the fact that indexical shifting is blocked in the presence of a PVC structure.

Document type: 
Thesis

The past and present of lexical suffixes in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-10
Supervisor(s): 
Marianne Ignace
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

Lexical suffixes are a class of morpheme in Salish languages which are obligatorily bound, but have the semantic properties of free-standing nouns. Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, a member of the Central Salish branch, has a rich system of over 120 suffixes. Lexical suffixes serve diverse functions in the morphology of the language, from serving as verb arguments, to deriving new adjectives and nouns. This thesis describes how Sḵwx̱wú7mesh lexical suffixes interact with the phonology, syntax, and other aspects of the morphology. It traces the development of this system from Proto-Salish, through Proto-Central Salish, and to innovations unique to Sḵwx̱wú7mesh. As a new generation of second language speakers continue reclaiming their language, they will need to develop new vocabulary to talk about things that did not exist in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language and using lexical suffixes will be a crucial way of doing this. Hopefully this thesis will provide further support for that important work.

Document type: 
Thesis

lhwet tse’ xwi’em’? hwi’ ’een’thu tse’. How I learned to perform a Hul’q’umi’num’ story

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-08-20
Supervisor(s): 
Donna Gerdts
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

Stories are integral to Coast Salish culture, past and present. This thesis is about my journey towards Hul’q’umi’num’ fluency, through learning to tell a story with the support of my elders and linguistic training. Hul’q’umi’num’ is a Salish language spoken along the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada. I outline the process I took to stand up and tell one long Quw’utsun’ story, centering my work around listening and practicing before finally telling the story. I highlight aspects I paid close attention to and steps I took, doing my best to capture the beauty of Hul’q’umi’num’ oral discourse. With Indigenous worldview encoded in our languages and the longstanding practice of passing knowledge down orally, stories offer a way forward for language reclamation and revitalization that is suitable to Indigenous ways of being, teaching and learning. Through learning to tell Hul’q’umi’num’ stories, we will find our Hul’q’umi’num’ voice.

Document type: 
Thesis

Suwsiw: Hul’q’umi’num’ stories of land and sea

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-10-20
Supervisor(s): 
Donna Gerdts
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.
Abstract: 

This project presents five new Hul’q’umi’num stories about the land and sea, created with the help of my elders. The Coast Salish people of the Hul’q’umi’num’ territory have a deep physical and spiritual connection to the world around us. We are taught that our language is an important way that we connect to our world. Many of our youth and families are influenced by modern life and struggle to see the importance of learning our language. The purpose of this project is to engage the hearts and minds of the learners while connecting them to the world around us. I point out the need for mentors and teachers to capture the curious minds of our youth in their language learning journeys through authentic materials.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Linguistic variation and ethnicity in a super-diverse community: The case of Vancouver English

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-12-11
Supervisor(s): 
Panayiotis Pappas
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Today, people with British/European heritage comprise about half (49.3%) of the total population of Metro Vancouver, while the other half is represented by visual minorities, with Chinese (20.6%) and South Asians (11.9%) being the largest ones (Statistics Canada 2017). However, non-White population are largely unrepresented in sociolinguistic research on the variety of English spoken locally. The objective of this study is to determine whether and to what extent young people with non-White ethnic backgrounds participate in some of the on-going sound changes in Vancouver English. Data from 45 participants with British/Mixed European, Chinese and South Asian heritage, native speakers of English, were analyzed instrumentally to get the formant measurements of the vowels of each speaker. Interview data were subjected to thematic analysis that aimed to describe to which extent each participant affiliated with their heritage. The results of the descriptive and inferential statistical analysis showed that, first, the vowel systems of these young people are similar and they all are undoubtedly speakers of modern Canadian English as described in previous research (Boberg 2010). Second, all three groups participate in the most important changes in Canadian English: the Canadian Shift, Canadian Raising, the fronting of back vowels, and allophonic variation of /æ/ in pre-nasal and pre-velar positions. Some differences along the ethnic lines that were discovered concern the degree of advancement of a given change, not its presence or absence. Socio-ethnic profiles of the participants created on the basis of the thematic analysis can be roughly put into two categories, mono- and bicultural identity orientation (Comănaru et al. 2018). Great variability is described both within and across groups, with language emerging as one of the most important factors in the participants’ identity construction. Exploratory analysis showed some tendencies in vowel production by speakers with mono- and bicultural orientations, with differences both among and within two non-White groups. The findings of the study call into question both our understanding of the mechanisms of language acquisition and our approach to delimiting and describing speech communities in super-diverse urban centers.

Document type: 
Thesis

English in the expanding circle of Morocco: Spread, uses, and functions

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-01-20
Supervisor(s): 
Suzanne K. Hilgendorf
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Research using Kachru’s (1984) World Englishes theoretical framework and Three Circles model has produced a wealth of knowledge about the spread and functions of English to speech communities around the world. However, there is a recognition that disproportionate attention has been accorded across these spheres. The most compelling argument outlining this gap in the literature was offered by Berns (2005) over a decade ago and was reiterated by Elyas and Mahboob (2020) just recently. Berns (2005: 85) concluded that while the bulk of academic research has focused on the use of English in Inner and Outer Circle contexts, the Expanding Circle remains mostly overlooked. Elyas and Mahboob (2020: 1), who co-edited a special journal issue on the North African and Middle East contexts, underscored that the topic of English in these regions ‘is largely under-studied and undertheorized.’ Following Berns’ remarks, numerous studies have focused on this underrepresented context. Nevertheless, despite their solid contributions, these investigations remain insufficient for constructing a comprehensive understanding of the distinct dynamics of the Expanding Circle. To contribute to the Expanding Circle literature, this exploratory, qualitative, macrosociolinguistic study employs Kachru’s (1984) World Englishes theoretical framework to investigate in greater depth the spread, functional range, and domains of English use in the multilingual country of Morocco. Specifically, this study initially provides an overview of the various languages used in Morocco, then outlines the history of its contact with the English language. It next explores English use in Moroccan media, examining in detail the language’s wide-ranging uses in broadcast, digital, print, and film media. This is followed by an in-depth examination of the linguistic landscape of the metropolitan city of Casablanca, with a focus on shop signs and outdoor advertisements. Whilst the users and uses of the English language are the major focus of analysis, additional attention is given to what such a spread means for the other four historically well-established languages of use within this Expanding Circle context: Arabic, French, Spanish, and the indigenous language Tmazight. A further aim of this study is to contribute new perspectives to the existing literature on the distinct dynamics of the Expanding Circle in general.

Document type: 
Thesis

Connecting generations through hwulmuhwqun stories

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-12-08
Supervisor(s): 
Donna Gerdts
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.
Abstract: 

These hwulmuhwqun stories are about connecting generations. After learning the history of our people, learning the Hul’q’umi’num’ language was my way of connecting to those who are now gone yet live through their stories. The teachings passed down in these stories guide us through stages of our lives. They taught me to be independent, to have respect for everyone, and how to endure struggles and survive. Peoples’ struggles are different but how you overcome them is a virtue instilled through stories. The six stories created for this project share hwulmuhw values to language learners. When I was taught to knit Cowichan sweaters, I was taught patience. When we had a visitor, I was taught respect. I learned the importance of knowing the land around you because it contains food, tools, and medicines. Modern times have changed some of our needs, but the virtues you learn through stories will never change.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

tsetsul’ulhtun’ mustimuhw: Hul’q’umi’num’ stories from our fishing life

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-12-01
Supervisor(s): 
Donna Gerdts
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.
Abstract: 

For us Hul’q’umi’num’ people, storytelling is an important tool for sharing knowledge across generations. Stories teach us how to live as First Nations peoples. The goal of this project is to communicate Coast Salish traditional values and life lessons from my childhood through stories in my own language. My stories share experiences of growing up in a fishing family. I hope they will show people the safety, fun, knowledge, and happiness of the fishing life. With the help of elders Delores Louie and Ruby Peter, I brought forward these stories in my own words about the people who passed down their knowledge to me. I am following in the footsteps of my late grandpa Bob Guerin, who followed his dad, my great grandfather Arnold Guerin, who loved researching and teaching the Hul’q’umi’num’ language.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

How what was said was said: Quotation in Hul’q’umi’num’ narrative performance

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-07-23
Supervisor(s): 
Nancy Hedberg
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

This thesis describes the use of quotation in Hul’q’umi’num’ narratives. Hul’q’umi’num’ is the Island dialect of Halkomelem spoken on the southeastern coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Quotation varies in form throughout Hul’q’umi’num’ narratives, occurring as indirect quotation or as direct quotation in varying strength of theatricality marked by prosody and style. The variation in form is based on how the representation of the instance of speech contrasts with the surrounding narrative, where markedly different and theatrical quotation signals high points in the discourse.

Document type: 
Thesis

Embedded verb second in German: Experiments at the syntax-pragmatics interface

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-08-12
Supervisor(s): 
Chung-hye Han
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

The interpretation and licensing of clauses with Embedded Verb Second (EV2) in German have been widely debated over the past decades. The goal of this thesis is to experimentally testempirical claims in more recent work on EV2 in German, in particular those in Djärv 2019a and Caplan & Djärv 2019. Djärv (2019a) and Caplan & Djärv (2019) argue that (i) EV2 clauses must denote discourse-new information, and that (ii) EV2 clauses are therefore unacceptable under embedding predicates that presuppose that the complement proposition is discourse-old. These claims were tested using a judgment task to elicit the naturalness of EV2 clauses when they constitute discourse-old information. The results provide two key findings. First, they show that the EV2 clauses are judged natural when they constitute discourse-old information. Second, the results show that canonical verb-final configurations are preferred over EV2 complements if the embedded proposition denotes discourse-old information. The results partially bear out previous claims and I argue that it is the lexical semantics of embedding predicates alone that determines whether EV2 is available, not the discourse status of any particular instance of EV2. Moreover, this thesis provides additional evidence against the claim that EV2 gives rise to speaker-commitment interpretations of the embedded proposition, replicating the results in Djärv 2019a and Caplan & Djärv 2019.

Document type: 
Thesis