Colloquia & Events
Thursday, Aug 25th
3:30pmVirtualWelcome (Back) to Linguistics!
Join us on Zoom passcode 564847 for a virtual social. The first 30 min will be dedicated to introducing new students to what the department has to offer. The last 30 min will be an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other.
Thursday, Sept 8th
5pmSugarhouse ParkDepartment Picnic
Sugar Beet Pavilion on the South East side of the park. UTA bus accessable from the Union on lines 21 (Bay C in front of the Union). Catering will be provided. Please join us with your friends and/or family!
Please RSVP by Sept. 2nd.
Thursday, Sept 22nd
Linguistics Colloquium – Dr. Shannon Barrios , University of Utah
3:30 - 5 pm LNCO 2110, Zoom will be available
The Social Weighting of Input Sources in Adult Lx Phonetic Learning
Input--the linguistic information available to language learners--is a necessary condition for language acquisition, whether native (L1) or subsequent (Lx). Infants make differential use of L1 input depending on social condition: they learn the phonetics of linguistic input through live-person interaction but not when it is presented by video or audio only (Conboy, Meltzoff and Kuhl 2015). Others have demonstrated that adult L2 learners are sensitive to the phonetics of L2 input, even in the absence of social interaction, leading to the question of whether adult L2 learners also “gate” their input such that some types will be more influential than others. The language classroom, where learners are exposed to phonetic input from an “authority” (the teacher) and also from fellow learners, provides an opportunity to explore the role that social dynamics play in the effects of input on L2 phonetic development. We conducted an experiment wherein English speakers heard auditory stimuli in an artificial language. During an exposure phase, in one condition the “teacher” produced tokens with 25 ms of VOT on initial segments and the students with 125 ms, and in another the VOT durations were reversed (in addition to control conditions where both students and teachers produced either long or short VOT). At test, participants judged as more target-like productions by a different speaker that matched the VOT durations of the teacher, but not the student, depending on their exposure condition, providing evidence for an influence of social factors in weighting input in L2 acquisition.
Thursday, Oct 6th
3:30pmVirtualApplying to Grad School
This virtual meeting will be hosted by Shannon Barrios, Aniellos De Santo, and Rachel Hayes-Harb and is intended for undergraduate students who are interested in learning more about graduate school application process. Undergraduates at any point in their careers are welcome and encouraged to join. Please register to receive the zoom link.
Thursday, Oct 20th3:30pmLNCO 2110Colloquium – Dr. Eihab Abu Rabiah title and abstract coming soon.
Thursday, Oct 27th3:30pmVirtualCareer Paths - TBA
Thursday, Nov 17th3:30pmVirtualColloquium – TBA
Thursday, Dec 1st3:30pmLNCO 2110Honors meeting- students pursuing honors thesis in linguistics
Researching Language Learning and Multilingualism: What's Social Justice Got to Do With it?
Our pandemic times continue to bring stress to our world through deterioration of solidarity for human diversity, a widening of economic inequalities, and the intensification of racial and religious conflict across the globe. Many multilinguals – even more so multilinguals in marginalized communities – are vulnerable in the present climate. Yet, disaffection for ethics, power, and ideologies has traditionally predominated the field of second language acquisition (SLA), which focuses on language learning by adults—people who learn a new language (formally or informally) during young, middle, or older adulthood, and therefore well outside primary socialization in the family. Should researchers who study adult language development, language learning, and multilingualism respond to these difficult times? If for some of us at least the answer is yes, then how can the field generate knowledge that can support social justice? I will propose several research strategies to respond to the needs that so many multilingual individuals, families, and communities are experiencing in our difficult times. I will also reflect on the barriers and possibilities for SLA scholars who wish to make their research useful for both elite and marginalized multilinguals.
We examine the transition to emergency remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic based on questionnaire responses from over 6,000 language learners and teachers and Linguistics instructors and students from 118 countries. Among others, we identify the influence of the stage of education taught, mode of delivery, economic classification of the country, perception of student coping, anxiety about the future, living conditions, self-acceptance, appraisal of situational impact, course optionality, and perceived effectiveness of virtual delivery. Compared with in-person classes, teachers felt that remote instruction depressed students’ language progress by around 64%; the future learning outcomes were the biggest cause for concern in beginner-level classes. The breakup of some constructs in clusters of naturally correlating variables in turn suggests that in crisis situations these may function differently than during ‘business as usual’, supporting the Strong Situation Hypothesis. We also demonstrate stability in respondents’ lives and instruction correlated with their multilingualism.
*Note*: Further data analyses are in progress; by February we hope to offer new findings including the impact on coping of stakeholders’ personality traits.
Join representatives from NSA (National Security Administration) and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) to discuss how your Linguistics degree can benefit you in these fields. They will discuss internship opportunities, employment options, and security clearance procedures. Linguistics can be used in both organizations as a tool in a variety of careers including analyst and translation positions.
Are there traces of the cord-card merger in Deseret Alphabet texts?
The merger /ɔ/ /ɑ/ before /r/ is widely-documented in Utah English, particularly along the Wasatch
The Deseret Alphabet was capable of rendering distinctions between pairs of back vowels that have since
merged in Standard American and Utah English varieties. As a means of phonetically rendering the distinction
between vowels that were perhaps already in the process of merging, Deseret Alphabet texts composed in the
1860s may present some clues as to the development of the cord–card merger in Utah. I present evidence from
the Deseret Alphabet printing of the Book of Mormon and the writings of Mormon diarist Marion J. Shelton.
These writings indeed preserve transcriptional evidence of variable vowel quality in pre-rhotic contexts,
suggestive of the merger. While this is not taken to be conclusive evidence of the timing or diffusion of the
merger, it does provide positive evidence of variability relating to the merger.
Ergativity and extraction in Mayan languages
There are about thirty Mayan languages spoken today, and all of these languages exhibit morphological ergativity: in terms of their verbal agreement, intransitive subjects pattern with transitive objects (=absolutive), and differently from transitive subjects (=ergative). However, Mayan languages differ in whether this morphological pattern also has a syntactic effect. Mayan languages are verb-initial, and require elements to appear in a preverbal position for wh-questions, focus, and relativization (A’-extraction). While Mayan languages like Ch’ol freely permit the extraction of both ergative and absolutive arguments, other Mayan languages, like Chuj, restrict extraction: absolutive arguments freely extract, while ergatives arguments may not. This pattern of syntactic ergativity is known as the Ergative Extraction Constraint (EEC; Aissen 2017).
Building on recent work, I argue that the presence of absence of the EEC in Mayan languages is directly correlated with a major point of syntactic variation in the Mayan family: while objects in languages like Ch’ol remain low in the clause, objects in languages like Chuj consistently move to a position above the ergative subject, blocking the subject from extracting. I show how this single difference accounts for other points of variation between the two types of Mayan languages. More generally, I discuss how collaborative and comparative linguistic research on under-documented languages can contribute both to linguistic theory and to the goals of language communities
Linguists gain a lot of skills during their majors. But how do you craft a CV that looks appealing to an industry recruiter? What kind of skills are actually useful for a career in tech? What things you should absolutely NOT do when submitting a CV?
If these questions appeal to you, join us for a Q&A period with Dr. Alëna Aksënova (Linguist at Google)!
The Undergraduate Research Symposium provides an opportunity for University of Utah students to present their work in a scholarly setting to students, faculty and other members of the U community. Undergraduate students from all disciplines at the University of Utah are invited to present their research and creative work.
The (Formal) Approaches to South Asian Languages conference is the main venue in North America for discussion of theoretical and theory-driven research in South Asian linguistics.
The University of Utah Student Conference in Linguistics provides an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to present their research in a scholarly setting to students, faculty, and other members of our Linguistics Community. The conference is intended to celebrate the wide breadth of issues taken up in theoretical and applied linguistics, including interdisciplinary approaches.
Using the DLC Framework to Examine Linguistic Identities of Transnational Multilinguals
Join Megan Randall, Career Coach with the Career and Professional Development Center, University of Utah, and learn how to create eye catching resumes and cover letters.
In this workshop, you will learn:
- Explain basic formatting guidelines for resume writing
- Tailor a resume to the opportunity and audience
- Write accomplishment statements for transferable skills
- Indicate the basic structure for formatting a cover letter
- Articulate a specific reason for their interest in the position
- Identify top strengths (skills, knowledge, experience) which demonstrate fit for the particular position
Individual Differences in Syntactic Processing: A psycholinguist's "two-disciplines" problem
Time:3:15 - 5:00pm | Location: Virtual and recording available
Eve Olson graduated with a HBA in Linguistics from the University of Utah and earned
her MA in Translation from Kent State University. Following her MA she completed an
internship at the UN in Austria. Eve is currently doing freelance translation and
editing with the ultimate goal attaining a translation job with the government.
Rebecca Rivas completed her BA in Linguistics just this past Fall and has already begun working for LingoTek! Learn about the work she is doing with this local translation company, how she leveraged her coursework and other experiences as an undergraduate and connected with them so quickly
Time: 3:30 - 5:00pm | Location: Virtual only (Join at 3:15 to socialize)
Infants represent differences between groups of talkers, and use this information to guide their social preferences. Nevertheless, models of word learning often abstract away from social information. The omission of social information from these models makes them unable to capture the way that children select which linguistic data to learn from based on their social and cultural experiences. In this talk I review two previous infant word learning experiments and show that their results can be better predicted by a model which incorporates infants’ beliefs about the relative value of informants.
University of Utah Linguistics undergraduates and graduate students interested in presenting their work will need to register by March 26th, 2021.
Time: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
The theme for the 2021 Forum on Language and the Law is legal interpretation, and this includes an emphasis on corpus linguistic methods for determining original and ordinary meaning in statutes, contracts, trademark agreements, the Constitution, and other important documents. The speakers at the 2020 Forum include two linguists, a law professor, and a Utah Supreme Court Justice. The first linguist, Jesse Egbert (Northern Arizona University), will offer insights into best practices in corpus-based linguistic research dealing with questions of original and ordinary meaning. The law professor, Lawrence Solum (Georgetown University), will discuss original and ordinary meaning from a legal perspective, focusing particularly on constitutional law. The second linguist, Tammy Gales (Hofstra University), will highlight linguistic principles and methods while emphasizing her work on statutory interpretation in trademark cases. Finally, Associate Chief Justice Tom Lee (Utah Supreme Court) will discuss the empirical methods he has used and advocated for when dealing with questions of legal interpretation.
The information and methods presented in this symposium will help lawyers, linguists, and judges improve their abilities to analyze and evaluate linguistic evidence related to legal interpretation in multiple domains of civil and criminal law.
Welcome (back) to Linguistics
The Department would like to welcome all to attend the Welcome (back) to Linguistics Virtual Event.
Undergraduates, please join us virtually at 3:30, if you can, for a brief information session hosted by Shannon Barrios, the Department of Linguistics Director of Undergraduate Studies. The session will be aimed at undergraduate students, especially those who are new to our community (we can't wait to meet you!), and will include details about departmental communication, department events, and other opportunities for rich experiences available to undergraduates students (internships, research, and club participation), as well as resources and support
Graduate students, Faculty, Instructors, Staff, and friends of Linguistics, please join at 4 pm for an opportunity to meet new faces and connect virtually with familiar ones.
Reconstructing Akan Day-names: Supporting Evidence from the Caribbean
Jamaican Creole and several other Atlantic English Creoles (AECs) share a set of day-names with Ákàn and several other geographically contiguous Kwa languages. The day-names, based on a seven-day week, are typically assigned to a baby based on the day of its birth and its biological sex. The day-name systems found in Jamaican Creole and several of the AECs are striking in that they have fewer gaps than the modern Kwa languages (other than Ákàn), and exhibit far greater similarity than the Kwa systems. These facts are taken as an indication that the systems in the other Kwa languages were borrowed from the Ákàn system (and hence are not cognate with it), and are potentially more recent than the Caribbean systems. In fact, the Caribbean side more than likely reflects a single system that was established in one territory, that was later diffused to other territories. Additionally, not only is the Caribbean system older than the non- Ákàn systems, it also appears to be cognate with the Ákàn system. This conclusion is based on a reconstruction of the Ákàn proto-system using the comparative method, as well as information on the diachronic lexicology of Ákàn. The talk will present the method used for the reconstruction, and then discuss the findings in light of the sociolinguistics of diaspora.
Applying to Graduate School Virtual Event, 3:30 - 5:00 pm (join 3:15 to socialize)
This virtual meeting will be hosted by Shannon Barrios, Aniellos De Santo, and Rachel Hayes-Harb and is intended for undergraduate students who are interested in learning more about graduate school application process. Undergraduates at any point in their careers are welcome and encouraged to join.
What can vowel formant trajectories tell us about language change?
Most descriptions of English vowels are based on acoustic measurements taken at their midpoint. However, there are more to vowels than their midpoints. Advances in computational power and statistical modeling have made robust analyses of vowel trajectories now possible and sociophoneticians can now ask questions that, until recently, were impossible to answer. I present three case studies on vowel trajectories and their change over time. Front lax vowels in Washington reveal that changes in trajectory can accompany vowel shifts. However, back vowels in the American South show that vowel shifting does not imply changes in trajectory. Finally, prelateral vowels in Utah can enrich our understanding of vowel merger. These examples illustrate that as more studies incorporate vowel trajectories, we can greatly expand our descriptive, theoretical, and sociolinguistic understanding of language, even on vowels canonically considered monophthongs.
Lexical idiosyncrasy and experience: A grammatical-lexical model
This talk presents some predictions of Representational Strength Theory (RST), a constraint-based
model incorporating both grammatical and lexical factors. In RST, traditional faithfulness
constraints are replaces by Phonological Form Constraints (PFC's), which
encode lexicalized properties of a word. The key prediction of this model is that probabilistic grammar can be learned alongside lexically
specific behavior of individual words. The talk will focus on the effects of lexical frequency: Empirically, the more experience a learner
has with a particular lexical item, the more that lexical item may diverge from the phonological grammar, and the more rigid its behavior
is (Morgan and Levy 2016, Smith and Moore-Cantwell 2017). Iterated learning simulations demonstrate that this behavior is predicted by RST, but not by competitor models, such as a Faithfulness to listed exceptions, lexically-indexed constraints, or cophonologies.