Category Archives: Talks

Talk: When “foreign” languages aren’t foreign – Heritage speakers in the United States

The Latin American and Latino Studies Program and the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies present:

When “foreign” languages aren’t foreign: Heritage speakers in the United States

Presented by: 
Kim Potowski
Associate professor of Hispanic Linguistics at UIC
 
October 12, 2011,  12:00 p.m.
Rafael Cintrón-Ortiz Latino Cultural Center
Lecture Center B2, University of Illinois at Chicago, East Campus
“You’re in America Speak English.”
“Multilingualism threatens our national unity.”
“Today’s immigrants are not learning English as quickly as those of the past.”
These myths regarding language are fairly prevalent in the U.S. at the beginning of the 21st century.  Approximately 20% of the U.S. population speaks a language other than English at home, yet several mainstream currents portray this linguistic diversity as a problem – with repressive and sometimes illegal  results. But there have been growing countercurrents of awareness that heritage languages are in fact both a right for the communities that speak them and a resource for the nation generally, along with the understanding that there are good ways (and not so good ways) of promoting English language learning.   Several cities have enacted initiatives to protect people’s right to maintain their heritage language without being accused of rejecting mainstream U.S. society, and several K-8 educational models teach other languages to our nation’s English monolingual children. This talk explores these issues making frequent reference to Spanish in the U.S. and to Chicago more specifically.
Kim Potowski is Associate Professor of Hispanic linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she directs the Spanish for Heritage Speakers Program. Her research focuses on Spanish in the United States, and her book Language Diversity in the U.S. (Cambridge University Press 2010) profiles the 12 most commonly spoken heritage languages in the nation.  She is currently completing a book about “MexiRicans” in Chicago.
Bring your brown bag lunch and refreshments will be provided  –   this event is free and open to the general public.   For more information call LALS office at 312. 996.2445.

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UIC TiL: Frank Savelsberg

This Friday October the 7th, Frank Savelsberg will be presenting a talk at UIC TiL entitled ‘La periferia izquierda “alta” y “baja” y la estructura informativa en las variedades iberorrománicas medievales’.

Join us at 3 PM in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60607) for the talk, and as usual, light refreshments will be provided.

We hope to see everyone there!

La periferia izquierda “alta” y “baja” y la estructura informativa en las variedades iberorrománicas medievales

Frank Savelsberg, Freie Universität Berlin

La intervención se centrará en variantes del orden de palabras en las variedades iberorrománicas medievales que divergen de modo significativo de los posibles tipos de organización de constituyentes en las lenguas actuales en cuestión. En el Español moderno, por ejemplo, predomina el orden de sujeto – verbo – complemento y es la organización no marcada en oraciones con verbos transitivos:

(1)            María come la manzana.

Si uno desplaza el complemento directo a la periferia izquierda de la oración en el Español moderno la repetición a través de un pronombre clítico es indispensable:

(2)            La manzana la come María.

Contrario a ésto, en el Español medieval pueden encontrarse estructuras como en (3a-b):

(3)            a.            E esto fiz yo porque tomases exiemplo. (Juan Manuel, Conde                                  Lucanor)

b.            […] que aestos dos procuradores fuese dado, por mi mandado, poderio por las çibdades e villas […] (Anonym, 1432)

En el primer caso se trata de un complemento directo dislocado al margen izquierdo de la oración, en el segundo caso de un complemento indirecto. En ambos casos, el Español moderno exige la repetición de los complementos dislocados a través de un clítico.

La intervención también se dedicará a estructuras como las siguientes:

(4)            a.            E pues que la Emperadriz ouo esto fecho murio. (Gran Conquista de Ultramar)

b.            […] e hauemos por experiencia visto […] (Anónimo, 1414)

En ambas frases se encuentran formas perifrásticas para expresar el pasado y entre el verbo auxiliar y el participio se hallan constituyentes interpoladas. Esta construcción no es posible en el Español moderno, la vecindad inmediata del verbo auxiliar y del participio es obligatoria.

Las observaciones y los análisis de la intervención quieren dar unas primeras respuestas a las preguntas siguientes: ¿Qué función cumplen los complementos dislocados en las variedades iberorrománicas medievales respecto a la estructura informativa? ¿Los elementos interpolados entre auxiliar y participio están marcadas en cuanto a la estructura informativa? ¿Qué función cumplen en el discurso?

UIC TiL: Fall 2011 Lineup

Mark your calendars!

UIC Talks In Linguistics (TiL) is pleased to announce this semester’s lineup:

7-Oct
Frank Savelsberg, Freie Universität Berlin

La periferia izquierda “alta” y “baja” y la estructura informativa
en las variedades iberorrománicas medievales (Spanish)

14-Oct
David Heap, The University of Western Ohio

Non-standard Spanish clitic sequences:
data from the Atlas Lingüístico de la Península Ibérica

21-Oct
Ming Xiang, University of Chicago

TBA

4-Nov
MaryAnn Parada and Shane Ebert, UIC

TBA

Please join us at UIC TiL Fridays at 3 p.m. in University Hall 1750, at the University of Chicago Eastern Campus.

Stay tuned for more information!

UIC TiL: Cristina Sanz

This Wednesday, March 30th, Dr. Cristina Sanz of Georgetown University will be presenting a talk entitled, “Bilingualism, Cognitive Capacity & Pedagogical Conditions” (abstract below).

Join us at 3 PM in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60607) for the talk and as usual light refreshments will be provided.

Bilingualism, Cognitive Capacity & Pedagogical Conditions

This presentation will report on a series of studies on the interaction between external pedagogical conditions and individual variables, especially those related to bilingualism and cognition. The studies have been conducted within The Latin Project (TLP) paradigm (Sanz, Bowden, & Stafford, N=400+), and have until today looked at a combination of different L1s (English, Spanish, Mandarin) and L2s (Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, English) using a mini-version of Latin as experimental language. Specifically, TLP operationalizes pedagogical conditions in terms of timing and amount of provision of explicit grammar rules in conjunction with task-essential, input-based practice (i.e. +/- explicit conditions) and includes a battery of cognitive measures (sentence span test, PSTM, (L1/L2), the MLAT, symbols/numbers test) to investigate the role of cognitive capacity in the interaction between conditions and variables associated with bilingualism, such as age, aging, proficiency, and strategy use.

In the presentation, I will focus on some of the patterns we have identified across studies: Input-based task essential practice is enough to promote language development; feedback with grammar is more effective for immediate performance, but gains made via interaction with meaningful input and right/wrong feedback may be more stable over time; higher L2 proficiency enhances L3 development; appearance of bilingual advantages depends on the complexity of the tasks performed both in terms of testing and of condition; aptitude is not a fixed trait and can be enhanced with experience in language learning.

These patterns will be discussed in light of what we know about language development under +/- explicit conditions (included in reviews, metanalyses in Norris & Ortega, 2000; Sanz & Morgan-Short, 2005; Spada & Tomita, 2010), the few studies on the role of cognition in moderating the effects of pedagogical conditions (e.g. Mackey, Adams, & Stafford, 2010), and on cognitive advantages of bilingualism, specially Bialystok’ most recent publications.

UIC TiL: Erik Willis

This Friday, January 28th, Dr. Erik Willis of Indiana University will be presenting a talk entitled, “Findings from a Spanish trill seeker” (abstract below), an interesting discussion of the Spanish “r/rr.”

Join us at 3 PM in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60607) for the talk and as usual light refreshments will be provided.

In addition, directly following the talk, Dr. Willis will hold a Praat workshop in Grant Hall 304. All are welcome to join us for this discussion of linguistic research and classroom implementation.

Findings from a Spanish trill seeker

This paper will provide an overview of a laboratory approach to understanding the Spanish phonological trill based on acoustic work on different three dialects, Dominican, Veracruz Mexican and Jerezano Peninsular Spanish. Spanish rhotics, and in particular, the Spanish phonological trill, have been a topic of research in linguistics due to the potential for neutralization, considerable variation and complexity of production. Trill production has also been a topic of interest to researchers working on theoretical issues such as gemination, syllabic affiliation, gestural score, phonetic/articulatory factors, etc. Trill variation is also one of the principal characteristics for dialectal variation of phonetics. However, it is only recently that detailed acoustic accounts have been forwarded.

We will begin by reviewing the “normative” descriptions of the Spanish trill and then proceed to illustrate the principal acoustic characteristics used to identify or delimit a phonological trill. We will then review the findings of three dialectal examinations including the acoustics of the primary allophonic variants. We will next review the specific phonological contexts in which the variants are found across the dialects and the specific acoustic characterization for each dialect. For two of the three dialects, the phonological trill is also contrasted with the phonological tap to better understand contrast and how the contrast is maintained despite the similarities in the segments. The talk will conclude with data and findings of a current study of phonological trill in newscaster speech in the Dominican Republic.

Praat Workshop

Praat is a powerful tool for acoustic analysis. Our review will focus on its uses for linguistic research. In this hands-on workshop we will first review some basic functions of Praat including opening files, editing files, extracting small portions of sound, and saving sound files in a wav format as well as a binary format. The remainder of our time will be spent on the bulleted topics below.

▪ Creating textgrid. Textgrids are annotations attached to a sound file that can be used to automate the extraction of data and insertion of text including phonetic symbols.

▪ Extracting text from textgrids. A transcription of a sound file can be effective using Praat for the transcription and then extracting the text into a single file.

▪ Logging. Logging is a quick automated analysis of specified features with a single button. These buttons can be programmed for specific functions similar to “hot keys” in word.

▪ Tonal modification. The intonation contour of a sound file can easily be modified in order to examine a wide variety of topics. With a simple modification a question can be converted into a statement.

I will conclude with a demonstration of several ways in which I have used Praat in the classroom for teaching. We will try to leave a few minutes at the end for individual questions.

UIC TiL: Judith Markowitz

Next Friday, December 3rd, Dr. Judith Markowitz will be presenting a talk entitled, “Commercial Speech Processing.” It will be a great opportunity to see the application of of the work of a linguist outside of academia.

Join us at 3 PM in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60607) for the talk and as usual light refreshments will be provided.

This talk will provide information about and demonstrations of the state-of-the-art of commercial text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition, and speaker recognition.

The ability to incorporate faster, more powerful solutions on smaller platforms; the growth of cloud computing; and the explosion of smart devices have led to increased interest in linguistic approaches. This talk will, therefore, introduce some areas of opportunity for linguists.

UIC TiL: Kim Potowski

This Friday, April 9th, UIC’s very own Kim Potowski will be presenting a talk entitled, “Intrafamilial dialect contact: The Spanish of MexiRicans in Chicago.”

Join us at 3 PM in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60607) for the talk and as usual light refreshments will be provided.

Kim Potowski (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Intrafamilial dialect contact: The Spanish of MexiRicans in Chicago

When speakers of different dialects share social space, interact frequently, and wish to gain each other’s approval or show solidarity, there exists the very strong possibility that they will adopt features from each other’s dialect. This process is known as accommodation, and when individual accommodations spread through a speech community over a long term, a common result is dialect mixing. Dialect mixing has received considerable attention in English (Trudgill 1986; Schneider 2003; Bauer 1994; Kerswill 2002) and in some parts of the Spanish-speaking world. However, there is a gap in our knowledge of Spanish dialect contact in the United States, which at approximately 30 million speakers is the fifth largest Spanish-speaking nation and the most dialectally diverse.

In addition, there is an increasingly common and particularly interesting case of Spanish dialect contact in the U.S.: What does a child’s Spanish look like when members of two different ethnolinguistic groups – a Mexican and a Puerto Rican, for example – marry and each speak their own Spanish dialect in the home? This situation, referred to as intrafamilial dialect contact, falls within Hazen’s (2002) call for research on the family as an intermediate grouping between the individual and the speech community. I will present a brief summary of general principles of dialect contact before examining studies of Spanish dialect contact in the U.S. and then focusing on cases of intrafamilial dialect contact in Chicago.