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

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Interclausal and intraclausal linking elements in Hul’q’umi’num’ Salish

Date created: 
2014-08-14
Abstract: 

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.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Donna Gerdts
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Effects of Musical Experience and Linguistic Experience on Categorization of Melodic and Lexical Tones

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-08-13
Abstract: 

Tone language and music both use pitch to convey categorical information. Previous research has shown shared processing of linguistic and musical tones in that pitch experience in one domain may affect the perception of the other. However, how such transfer facilitates tonal categorization is less clear. The present study investigates the categorical perception of linguistic and music tones by three groups of listeners differing in their tone language and musical training experiences (native Mandarin non-musicians, native English musicians, and native English non-musicians). Linguistic tonal continua were created from Mandarin level to rising tones, and from level to falling tones. Melodic music continua were created by varying the note D under the context of C and E (CDE to CEE, and CCE to CDE). The participants performed a discrimination task and an identification task for the Mandarin tones and the music melodies. The results show facilitative effects of musical experience on Mandarin tone. First, the English musicians’ tone discrimination outperformed the native Mandarin non-musicians, indicating musicians’ enhanced sensitivity to pitch variations. Moreover, the English musicians identified the Mandarin tones in a more categorical manner than English non-musicians, showing musicians’ greater ability in categorizing pitch information. On the other hand, experience with linguistic tone is also shown to affect melodic perception. Specifically, the Mandarin non-musicians’ experience in linguistic tone categorization appears to facilitate their perception in music, as their identification of melodic CDE-to-CEE exemplars reveals a more categorical pattern than the English non-musicians. However, the Mandarin non-musicians’ experience in tone categorization may have decreased their sensitivity to subtle pitch differences, as their discrimination of melodic pitch differences was the poorest among the three listener groups. Taken together, these results suggest bi-directional transfer between language and music in perception and categorization processes, pointing to an integration of domain-general and domain-specific pitch processing as a function of experiences.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yue Wang
Nancy Hedberg
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Signalling of Coherence Relations in Discourse

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-06-20
Abstract: 

In this dissertation, we examine how coherence relations (relations between propositions, such as Concession and Purpose) are signalled in discourse, and what signals are used to indicate them. We also explore the relationship between coherence relations and their signals, and examine whether every relation is signalled. Traditionally, coherence relations are considered to be signalled only by discourse markers or DMs (but, however, therefore, etc.), and relations, based on the presence and absence of DMs, are classified as explicit and implicit relations, respectively (Renkema, 2004). The fact that relations without DMs are omnipresent in discourse (Taboada, 2009), and relations are interpreted even in the absence of DMs (Sanders & Noordman, 2000) leads us to hypothesize that the signalling of relations is achieved not only by DMs, but also by several other textual signals. We also hypothesize that every relation in a discourse is signalled, as a signal must be necessary for correct interpretation. We conduct a corpus study, using the RST Discourse Treebank (Carlson et al., 2002), which contains a collection of 385 Wall Street Journal articles annotated for rhetorical (coherence) relations. We examine each relation in the corpus (20,123 relations in total), identify relevant signals for those relations, and finally, add a new layer of annotation to them, to include signalling information. Results from our corpus study show that the majority of relations (over 90%) in a discourse are signalled (sometimes by multiple signals), and also that the majority of signalled relations (over 80%) are indicated by signals other than DMs, such as lexical, semantic, syntactic and graphical features. The results also show that the signalling varies quantitatively and qualitatively for individual relations. These findings reinforce the psychological claim that there exist signals for every interpretable relation. They also suggest that the category of explicit relations needs to be expanded, to include relations which are signalled by any textual feature. The annotated corpus with signalling information can be used in psycholinguistic studies to determine how readers or hearers use signals to identify relations. It can also be used to develop discourse parsing systems to automatically categorize coherence relations.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Dr. Paul McFetridge
Dr. Maite Taboada
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Control over objects: an experimental investigation of transitive subject control

Date created: 
2014-04-22
Abstract: 

This thesis explores transitive subject control (TSC) phenomena using experimental syntax methodologies. Theoretical accounts of TSC are problematic. Syntactic theories either disregard TSC or find it ungrammatical (Chomsky 1980, Larson 1991, Hornstein 1999 and Manzini and Roussou 2000) while semantic theories cannot explain the structure’s rarity or reduced acceptability (Postal 1970, Jackendoff 1972, Ruzicka 1983, Chierchia 1984, and Farkas 1988). Additionally, work on corpora (Egan 2006; Jeffrey 2012) suggests that TSC is rare. A series of interconnected experiments explores these issues. Experiment one uses audio stimuli and an acceptability judgment task to assess the acceptability of TSC. Experiment two employs a self-paced reading task to test for processing difficulties associated with TSC. Experiment three uses an acceptability judgment task to test the effect of both syntactic and semantic violations. The results of these experiments suggest that TSC is of reduced acceptability and is associated with processing delays. It is argued that both syntactic and semantic strategies of interpreting TSC are available simultaneously and that the conflict between these derives the reduced acceptability observed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Panayiotis Pappas
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Auditory priming effects on the production of second language speech sounds

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-08-13
Abstract: 

Research shows that speech perception and production are connected, however, the extent to which auditory speech stimuli can affect second language production has been less thoroughly explored. The current study presents Mandarin learners of English with an English vowel as an auditory prime (/i/, /ɪ/, /u/, /ʊ/) followed by an English target word containing either a tensity congruent (e.g. prime: /i/ - target: “peach”) or incongruent (e.g. prime: /i/ - target: “pitch”) vowel. Pronunciation of the target word vowel following the two congruency conditions was measured in terms of vowel duration and formant frequency, as well as intelligibility and rating by native English listeners. Results showed that pronunciation of the front vowel contrast (/i-ɪ/) displayed more English-like formant frequency distribution and an increase in intelligibility in the congruent prime condition, suggesting that auditory speech information can positively affect the pronunciation of difficult second language speech contrasts.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yue Wang
Trude Heift
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Reduplication in Rotuman

Date created: 
2013-08-15
Abstract: 

This thesis is the first comprehensive investigation of reduplication in Rotuman, an Oceanic language. It includes a rigorous description of Rotuman reduplication based on a corpus of 2600 stems extracted from Churchward’s (1940) Dictionary and a thorough analysis within Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky, 1993) of all reduplicant shapes. This analysis draws on generalized templates and minimal word phonology to demonstrate that the productive form of foot reduplication is shaped by well-formedness constraints associated with the minimal word in Rotuman. By building an analysis around the prosodic structure of phase, a morphological process particular to Rotuman, this thesis captures the intuitions of previous scholars on the relationship between these two processes. All divergences from the minimal word phonology of the reduplicant and incomplete phase prosody are accounted for using standard constraintbased accounts of anti-gemination, under-application, and prosodic faithfulness.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Alderete
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Learnability of cultural models through authentic materials: Focus on metaphorical competence and conceptual fluency

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-06-06
Abstract: 

This study investigated the effect of exposure to authentic and computer assisted language learning-based English materials on learners’ metaphorical competence and conceptual fluency in Iranian foreign/second language (L2) classrooms. Previous studies of classroom-based L2 learning using standard coursebooks indicate that students can develop excellent degrees of linguistic and communicative competences in their target language, but their discourse lacks conceptual accuracy. While their discourse output may have a high degree of verbal (formal) fluency, lack of conceptual fluency creates both comprehension and production misunderstandings and inappropriateness. For this research, in an effort to better understand and even remedy the problem, 53 Persian learners of English in Iran were divided into two groups and took part in the following experiment. Textbook-based materials were used with a control group while authentic materials and instruction by trained native speakers as online teachers were employed in the treatment class through the mediation of computer assisted language learning techniques. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected based on questionnaires as well as pre-, post- and delayed post-tests. Both control and experimental groups improved in their English language proficiency based on the statistical main effects. The results of the study at the post-test stage also showed that L2 learners' written and oral discourses had a more improved level of conceptual skill and metaphorical structure after being exposed to the authentic materials compared to the control group. This claim is based on the significant difference between the textbook-based and authentically-based approaches reflected in the data analyses. Delayed post-test data analysis showed differences between oral and written discourses. Oral discourse metaphorical density fell back to a limited extent though still degrees of improvement were visible. Participants in the experimental group produced less marked discourse with a higher metaphorical density. Also, the study indicated that conceptual fluency and metaphorical competence are two related phenomena and the development of each influences the other.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Manuel Juan Sosa
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Space in tense: The interaction of tense, aspect, evidentiality, and speech act in Korean

Author: 
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

This dissertation investigates the interaction of tense, aspect, evidentiality, and speech acts, using Korean as a test case. I propose that Korean has two types of deictic (indexical) tense-simple deictic tense and spatial deictic tense. This makes possible a systematic account of the temporal interpretation of tenses, aspects, and moods that also incorporates evidentiality. By showing that the Korean evidential system should be analyzed as part of the tense-aspect system, this study contributes to current research on the formal analysis of inflectional systems in the world's languages. First, I give an analysis of the simple suffix -ess and the double form -essess. The distinction between these two parallels the distinction between the perfect and the past manifested in most Indo-European languages. The simple form -ess is a perfect and the double -essess is a deictic past tense. Next, I treat the suffix -te and argue that not only temporality but also the notion of space is relevant to its analysis: it is a spatial deictic past tense denoting a certain past time when the speaker perceived either a given event itself or some evidence of the event. Thus, -te directly relates to evidentiality. In addition, -te has a present tense counterpart, the spatial deictic present form -ney. My analysis results in the claim that some suffixes are ambiguous between aspects or moods and evidentials. For example, if the suffix -ess occurs with a simple deictic tense, it functions as a perfect. But if it occurs with a spatial deictic tense, it functions as an indirect evidential. In sum, a definitive analysis of Korean tense, aspect, and mood morphology incorporates two distinctions that operate in tandem: one distinction is simple deictic tense and aspect and the other distinction is spatial deictic tense and evidentiality. The basic difference between evidential sentences and non-evidential sentences is captured in terms of speech acts: unlike non-evidential (declarative) sentences, evidential sentences do not make assertive claims. Even direct evidential sentences in Korean do not express the speaker's commitment to the truth of the proposition described.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Linguistics - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

Effects of linguistic and musical experience on Cantonese tone word learning

Date created: 
2010
Abstract: 

Adult non-native perception is subject to influence from a variety of factors, including linguistic experience as well as other cognitive functions such as musical experience. The present research examines how these two factors influence non-native tone perception and word learning. Native Thai and English listeners, subdivided into musician and non-musician groups, engaged in a perceptual training program. They learned words distinguished by five Cantonese tones during training, also completing pre- and post-training lexical tone identification tasks. The findings suggest that musical experience or a tone language background lead to significantly better word learning proficiency over non-musically trained non-tone language listeners. Furthermore, language background appears to influence the relevance of musicality, as the combination of tone language and musical background did not provide an advantage for learners. These results point to shared processing mechanisms of music and language, both at the level of tone identification and at the word learning stage.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Y
Department: 
Department of Linguistics - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

A multiple dominance analysis of sharing coordination constructions using tree adjoining grammar

Date created: 
2010
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the syntax of sharing coordination constructions, in which a single phono- logically overt element at the periphery of one conjunct is interpreted to belong syntactically and semantically to both conjuncts. I argue for a multiple dominance analysis of these constructions, against ellipsis and literal movement approaches, which I formalize in a lexicalized tree adjoining grammar (LTAG) framework. This analysis extends the empirical domain of previous TAG research beyond shared arguments to provide an account of shared modifiers, lexical items and derivationally non-local sharing. Finally, I define a linearization algorithm that linearizes the terminals of multiple dominance structures and produces the novel result of deriving the peripherality conditions on both left and right sharing constructions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
C
Department: 
Department of Linguistics - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)