The present study provides preliminary insight into the linguistic patterns of Filipinos in Metro Vancouver, an important ethnic community in the region. Specifically, this thesis sought to explore whether Filipinos are (linguistically) integrated by determining if they participated in the Canadian Shift (CS), an on-going change in Canadian English involving the lowering and/or retracting of the vowels /æ, ɛ, ɪ/. Twelve second-generation Filipinos between the ages of 19 and 30 took part in sociolinguistic interviews, and formant frequency data based on 408 tokens of /æ, ɛ, ɪ/ were constructed from recordings of Boberg’s (2008) word list. The results revealed that CS is robust, with evidence of women in the lead. These indicated that there are no substrate language transfer effects at least concerning this phonetic variable. This study ultimately demonstrates that despite remaining a marginalized demographic, second-generation Filipinos are linguistically integrated and are therefore rightful members of the region’s speech community.
Language policy may promote or reduce the use and acquisition of languages. Indigenous languages in Canada are endangered and the number of speakers of these languages is declining. In this thesis, I examine a number of Canadian language policies in order to analyse whether provisions exist for including Indigenous languages within educational programmes. Previous studies of Canadian language policies have often only briefly addressed Indigenous languages. My analysis considers some of the policy documents discussed in earlier studies (e.g. the 1969 Official Languages Act), some recent policy documents (e.g. the 1991 Canadian Heritage Languages Institute Act), as well as proposed legislation that failed to be enacted (e.g. the 2005 Kelowna Accord). Two of the important themes that emerged from this analysis are the general exclusion of Indigenous languages from Canadian language policy and limited local, Indigenous consultation and control within those policies that do include Indigenous languages.
The field of speech act theory has seen increasing attention in recent years, as determining the illocutionary force of an utterance, or what its speaker means to accomplish by uttering it, has become important in the design of computational systems that process human speech. Many scholars of language, including J. L. Austin and John Searle, have proposed systems of classifying speech acts by their illocutionary features. However, these schemes are often non-hierarchical, and thus cannot fully describe the similarities between categories; and they tend not to consider the politeness features of utterances, an aspect of illocution which can have a great impact on a speaker’s choice of utterance. In this thesis, I develop a hierarchical taxonomy of English-language speech acts based on existing literature, and lay out the politeness-related features that differentiate speech act categories, with the aim of producing a classification system useful in computational applications.
This thesis investigates the phonological development of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with the goal of identifying autism specific patterns of language development, if any such patterns exist. Previous research into the phonology of children with autism has provided conflicting profiles, arguing that this phonological development is either typical, typical but delayed, or atypical. The current study begins with a pilot study of six children with ASD between 20 months and seven years of age. The children were audio-recorded during play to document their spontaneous speech. All of the children were found to use some age appropriate phonological processes, and some children were also found to use delayed phonological processes. The second part of the study is a case study of the development of the youngest child over the course of eight months because the speech of this child exhibited atypical patterns of infelicitous pauses between and within syllables. The duration, frequency, and decline of these pauses were tracked for the period of the study and analyzed within contemporary phonology and psycholinguistics. While the pilot results show that children with ASD may exhibit both typical and delayed phonological development, the case study documents at least one case of phonological development unique to autism that cannot be characterized as typical or typical but delayed.
The English language is changing due to the global spread of the language, and it is now used in culturally determined local contexts with culturally specific meanings (Kachru, 1991). The local contexts of English use also influence global communication. Due to these simultaneously global and local phenomena, or “glocalization” (Robertson, 1997), the needs of English language learners in Japan also diversify. In Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) regulates education and authorizes textbooks used in schools. Since English is not an official language in Japan, textbooks can be the main source of learners’ input of the language, and therefore, may have the power to disseminate certain ideologies of the language and construct learners’ “realities” of their learning (e.g. Matsuda, 2012; Tajima, 2011). This dissertation research examines the extent to which the diversifying needs of learners are addressed in the curriculum guidelines of MEXT generally, and in English language textbooks used at junior high schools more specifically. My research questions address the power of textbook discourses and their possible influence on how learners speak and behave (Gee, 2005). Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Fairclough, 1995), I investigate more deeply how textbook discourses may be constructing learners’ realities and constitutive of those realities. This study reveals that the English language is often represented in textbooks as being owned by native speakers particularly from the United States, Canada, or Australia. Thus, the language is presented as independent of Japanese social and cultural influences. This conforms to MEXT discourses of English as a “foreign” language and seemingly denies the ownership of the language and the linguistic identity by learners in Japan. These representations may be perceived as static realities by learners despite the varied uses of English in the world today and the ongoing changes and hybridization of languages and cultures. When learners accept the essentialized realities made available in textbooks and act accordingly, the realities of the discourses surrounding English language learning can be intensified and reproduced through classroom practices and the learners’ conforming behaviours, thereby being stabilized by the learners’ own participation in the discourses.
Some theories of the syllable predict that single intervocalic consonants will be ambisyllabic (acting simultaneously as the coda of one syllable and onset of another syllable) in certain contexts. However, these predictions are not borne out in experimental data. Previous research has found that ambisyllabicity occurs in some theoretically predicted contexts, but not others. This research looks at whether syllable onsets can be used to predict ambisyllabicity in an experimental setting. With recent research suggesting that onsets may contribute to syllable weight it is expected that variability in onset type will affect syllabification of intervocalic consonants, which is largely dependent to the weight of the preceding syllable. Participants performed a syllable reversal task in response to bisyllabic non-words. Non-word stimuli were used to control for the effects of orthography, morphology and frequency. Results from the first experiment, in which all stimuli had tense vowels, showed a significant relationship between the number of onset consonants and the syllabification response. While the occurrence of ambisyllabicity was low, it was more frequent than expected when stimuli had fewer onset consonants, and vice versa. In order to investigate this further, a second experiment was conducted using stimuli with both tense and lax vowels. Results from the second experiment showed the same significant relationship for stimuli with lax vowels only. As ambisyllabicity is expected to occur in contexts where syllables require codas for additional weight, the results suggest that onsets can also contribute to syllable weight. Overall, the occurrence of ambisyllabic responses was expected to be much higher based on previous research that used real-word stimuli. This indicates that the use of non-words affected participants’ syllabification judgements and demonstrates the important role of lexical effects in phonological tasks.
This dissertation investigates the impact of different types of help options, specifically input enhancement and form-focused glosses, on reducing vowel blindness of Arabic EFL learners. Vowel blindness is the term commonly used for Arabic ESL/EFL learners’ difficulty in decoding English vowels by transferring L1 habits of relying heavily on consonants and giving little attention to vowels.Two hundred-fifty Saudi Arabian EFL students at a beginner to low-intermediate level participated in a study based around a specially designed piece of online software, VALE (Vowel-Assistant for Arabic Learners of English) which incorporates English vowel training through input enhancement and form-focused glosses implemented in the context of reading tasks. Input enhancement was achieved typographically by highlighting the vowels in target words in yellow. The form-focused glosses were designed to include segment-focused glosses, syllable-focused glosses, or segment-syllable focused glosses. Each of the four types of support was experienced by a separate experimental group, while a control group received no such help. VALE also delivered most of the data gathering instruments of the study which included a background questionnaire, pre-test, post-test, delayed post-test, and attitude questionnaire. Retrospective interviews were also conducted with 40 participants.Three sets of research questions are asked to address the effect of VALE help options on reducing vowel blindness. The first and second sets address the effect of type of support on treated/targeted words and on untreated/nontargeted words, in three stages: initial effect (pre-test - post-test change), retention effect (post-test - delayed post-test), and overall effect (pre-test - delayed post-test). The third set of research questions explores the impact of VALE on raising participants’ awareness of the vowel blindness problem and on their attitudes towards VALE.The results for the first set of research questions revealed significant decreases in vowel blindness errors in the short term for treated words, with significant differences between the experimental groups and the control group. Yet, a significant re-increase in vowel blindness errors occurred in the longer term but an overall vowel blindness reduction effect was found over the entire period of the study, particularly for the segment help option. The second set of research questions again found a significant decrease in vowel blindness for untreated words in the short-term, similar for all VALE help options. In the longer term, a major loss of retention occurred for all the help groups; nevertheless, a significant change in vowel blindness errors was still found over the entire period of the study for the untreated words, particularly for the input enhancement help option. Finally, the third set of research questions revealed through the interview data that the learners generally perceived their help option treatment as positively impacting their awareness of the vowel blindness problem. Interview data and attitude questionnaire also showed mostly positive attitudes towards the technical design of VALE and segment help obtained the highest number of positive responses.
Previous research has suggested a relationship between frequency of use (FoU) and language change (Pagel, Atkinson, & Meade, 2007), but its nature remains unclear. Two research questions were raised in this thesis: 1) whether FoU remains stable over time, 2) whether amount of language change over time can be predicted using FoU. A 1147-word subset of the IDS wordlist (Key & Comrie, 2007) was used to test these questions. The FoU of both Latin and Spanish, and amount of change for each word was measured. There was a lower correlation across time than cross-linguistically, but the effect of genre could not be removed. A weak, highly significant negative relationship between FoU and amount of change was identified, supporting the claim that high frequency words change less than low frequency words. There is an intriguing correlation between FoU and lexical change, but the causal mechanism is not yet understood.
This dissertation concerns vocabulary assessment for second language learners. Current assessment techniques generally focus either on breadth measures to estimate vocabulary size, or depth measures to see how well learners know a few words. A third type of assessment is the checkbox test, which allows learners to self-assess a large number of words; however, the checkbox test is insensitive to partial knowledge and shortcomings with respect to its reliability of results have been identified. A new paradigm is presented and operationalized in the computer program Bricklayer. Bricklayer allows learners to self-assess large numbers of words in a game rather than test format. It validates responses by presenting random quizzes for some of the words. Furthermore, the learners rank word knowledge, providing a mechanism for capturing partial knowledge. In a research study carried out with Bricklayer, 28 intermediate ESL learners were assessed on 72 words. A validity argument established a chain of reasoning to validate the tool. Two post-tests collected evidence for concurrent validity. A standard multiple-choice test for one set of 36 words determined that Bricklayer predicted 61% of known words and 69% of unknown words; results were better for words which were strongly predicted to be known or unknown. A semantic distance test captured incremental knowledge for the other set of 36 words. Bricklayer was sensitive to partial knowledge although its predictive power was weak. Bricklayer’s reliability investigation found 12.5% of the words exhibited poor fit to the predictive model, although there were too few such words to determine a cause. Bricklayer’s performance was found to be comparable to that of the checkbox test. These findings suggest that Bricklayer’s assessment paradigm is a way to build up models of students’ knowledge and behaviour in computer assisted learning environments. Bricklayer provides a first pass in identifying known and unknown words; the remaining words are good candidates for additional assessment or instruction. Several improvements to Bricklayer’s idiosyncrasies were noted. Most importantly, Bricklayer’s scoring represents seven levels of knowledge for each word, although such distinctions of knowledge were not captured. Also, Bricklayer’s forced-choice activity led to results which were highly context-dependent.
This study investigates linking elements in Hul’q’umi’num’, the dialect of Halkomelem Salish spoken on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Hul’q’umi’num’ has two interclausal linkers: the coordinator ʔiʔ and the subordinator ʔəw̓. In addition to occurring in straightforwardly biclausal constructions, these linking elements also occur between a variety of modals and adverbs and the elements they modify, raising the question: are such constructions monoclausal or biclausal? The morphosyntactic evidence, based on the placement of subject NPs, enclitics, auxiliaries and subordinate suffixes, reveals that these adverbial constructions do not form a homogenous group. Adverbial constructions with ʔəw̓ are always monoclausal, while modal and adverbial constructions with ʔiʔ range from monoclausal to biclausal. I argue against an analysis that assumes homophones of ʔiʔ, but instead propose that its range of uses can be related to the notion of topicality. I demonstrate that very similar multifunctionality is attested for conjunctions in other languages.