Tag Archives: Here at UIC

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.


UIC TiL: Bryan Koronkiewicz & Tara Toscano

This Friday, March 19th, we’ll be having our semesterly student session of UIC Talks in Linguistics. Bryan Koronkiewicz will present a talk entitled, “Exceptional Hiatuses in Spanish: An Extension of Cabré & Prieto (2006)” and Tara Toscano will be presenting a talk entitled, “The Strandability of Prepositions in Spanish-English Code-switching”

Join us at 3 PM in 1650 University Hall (601 S. Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60607) for some talks and refreshments.

Bryan Koronkiewicz (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Exceptional Hiatuses in Spanish: An Extension of Cabré & Prieto (2006)

In Spanish phonology, the syllabification of rising sonority vocoids predicts diphthongization. Yet in various dialects, with a variety of words, speakers favor the creation of a hiatus in such a context. For example, the word *piano* can be realized by Spanish-speakers either as the expected form [‘pja.no] or alternatively as [pi.’a.no]. The work of Hualde (1999, 2002) and Colina (1999) attests that word initiality, distance to stress, and morpheme boundaries all have strong effects on the realization of these so-called exceptional hiatuses. However, more recently these effects have been reexamined by Cabré & Prieto (2006) with dissimilar results, arguing that they are not as strong.

In this talk I will continue to explore the potential explanations for exceptional hiatuses. This current study recreates and expands the work of Cabré & Prieto (2006). Continuing their approach, Peninsular Spanish-speakers are tested on their tendency toward exceptional hiatuses, examining the specific parameters that may be influential. Furthermore, Mexican-Spanish-speakers are also tested to see if the effects are similar cross-dialectally.

Tara Toscano (University of Illinois at Chicago)
The Strandability of Prepositions in Spanish-English Code-switching

I have tested the acceptability of Preposition stranding in English-Spanish code- switching contexts by having sequential bilinguals perform a sentence judgment task. The term Preposition stranding (P-stranding) refers to an instance where the object of the preposition is extracted and the preposition is not pied-piped as shown in (1):

(1) Who did John talk [PP to[ t]]?

While P-stranding is found in some languages, it does not appear in others. P-stranding is quite common in English as shown in example (1). But in Spanish there is a lack of P-stranding:

(2) *Quién habló Juan  [PP con [ t]]?
Who   spoke John        with

Code-switching allows insights into the two grammars that are otherwise opaque in monolingual utterances. I hypothesized that the language of the preposition in code-switching would determine the acceptability of P-stranding regardless of the language of the DP or NP. I explored 2 hypotheses:

1. Spanish prepositions will not allow P-stranding in a code-switching context, as in (3c) and (3d), and English prepositions will, as in (3a) and (3b).

(3) a. Quién salió John with?
b. Quién did John leave with?
c. Who did John leave con?
d. Who salió John con?

2. The language of Tense (T), or more specifically little v, will determine the acceptability of P-stranding. English T will trigger P-stranding (see (3b) and (3c)) while Spanish T will prohibit it (see (3a) and (3d)).

No conclusions can be made regarding the element or layer of the structure that sanctions P-stranding because this phenomenon occurs in the Spanish dialect of the participants.

UIC TiL: Luis López

Join us tomorrow, February 19th, for another installment of UIC Talks in Linguistics.  Our own Luis López will be presenting a talk entitled, “Indefinite objects: Differential object marking, scrambling and choice functions.”

The talk will take place different time than usual, starting at 2pm in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607).  Join us there for the talk and as always, light refreshments are provided.

Luis López (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Indefinite objects: Differential object marking, scrambling and choice functions

The polyvalent behavior of indefinites has always been a matter of curiosity among linguists. For instance, in (1), the indefinite object ‘a philosopher’ takes scope outside the conditional, suggesting that the scope of indefinites depends on a semantic operation rather than QR (Reinhart 1997, among many others). In (2) we do not know if Mary is looking for any individual that has the properties of being a secretary and speaking German or whether Mary is looking for a specific individual – known to Mary or to the speaker – who we happen to identify by using these properties:

(1) If Bert invites a philosopher, Lud will be angry.
(2) Mary is looking for a secretary that speaks German.

There have been three traditions that have approached the grammar of indefinites. The scholars working in Differential Object Marking (henceforth DOM, see Bossong 1985, Aissen 2003) have connected a piece of morphology
with a specific interpretation. Other linguists (Diesing 1992 in particular) have linked specificity with scrambling. Finally, Reinhart (1997) and many others have argued that indefinite DPs obtain wide scope by means of choice
functions, implicitly denying any role for syntax. Of particular interest for our purposes are the proposals in Chung and Ladusaw (2004), according to which indefinite nominal phrases may combine by means of Restrict (simple
conjunction) or Satisfy (an operation that turns an indefinite object into a choice function variable.). Restrict leads to narrow scope while Satisfy allows a variety of scopes dependent on where the function variable is existentially closed.

In this paper I synthesize the three traditions. The gist of my proposal is shown as follows:

(3)  [vP EA v [aP Obj.dom a [VP V Obj]]]
Satisfy             Restrict

That is, DOM and wide scope of indefinites entail scrambling. The paper will substantiate this claim using data from Spanish, Hindi-Urdu and Persian (Farsi).

The main theoretical contribution of this research project is that it allows us to develop a more nuanced view of the syntax-semantics interface. Diesing and many others argued that syntactic positions are linked to semantic interpretations. I argue that syntactic configuration limits the range of possible modes of semantic composition, which eventually limits the range of possible semantic representations.

UIC TiL: Kenneth Konopka

Tomorrow, February 5th, we will have another session of UIC Talks in Linguistics from 3 PM to 5 PM in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan Street 60607). This week we will have a talk from Kenneth Konopka of Northwestern University. As always, light refreshments will be served. The talk is entitled, “Vowels of Mexican Heritage English: Beyond the static.”

Kenneth Konnopka (Northwestern University)
Vowels of Mexican Heritage English: Beyond the static

Mexican Heritage English (MHE) speakers are first generation Mexican-Americans who are native speakers of English living in communities characterized by the general presence of the Spanish language. In this talk I compare the vowel structure of MHE to that of the regional Anglo dialect in the Albany Park community of Chicago. Analyses of vowel formant trajectories and durations provide evidence for a Spanish influence that is not captured in traditional static vowel plots.

The participants in the study comprise four groups: Anglo speakers of the regional dialect characterized by the Northern Cities Vowels (N=12F); MHE speakers who are life-long community residents with varying Spanish proficiency (N=14F); late learners of English (L2E) who are native Mexican Spanish speakers (N=12F); and native Mexican Spanish speakers (N=7F). Speakers from the first three groups were recorded responding in English to a variety of materials. From CVC wordlist productions eleven English vowels were analyzed. These vowels, from a range of consonantal contexts, were analyzed for duration and first and second formant values at .20, .50 and .80 of the duration. Mexican Spanish speakers were also recorded reading tokens from a Spanish wordlist for a corresponding analysis.

In this talk I will show how temporal cues reveal clear distinctions between the vowels of the regional dialect, MHE, and L2E. In addition, I will provide evidence from Spanish for the origins of these cues. I will discuss the resultant vowel structure of MHE and how it provides insight into the interaction of the two disparate vowel systems. In addition to their relevance for the study of language contact, we will see how features normally considered secondary in vowel production may provide a basis for systematically evaluating vowel structure resulting from language contact.

UIC TiL: Marina Teroukafi

Join us this Friday, January 22nd for TiL’s first talk of the semester: a talk by Marina Terkourafi from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Her talk is entitled, “What is said from different points of view” and will take place in 1750 University Hall (601 South Morgan Street 60607) at 3 PM.

Marina Terkourafi (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
What is said from different points of view

What is said as a theoretical notion was first proposed by Paul Grice in his William James lectures as a way of drawing the line between what a hearer would know upon hearing an utterance based on her knowledge of the language, and what she could further infer based on the fact that an utterance had been uttered in context. Understood as a distinction between truth-conditional and non truth-conditional content, the distinction between ‘what is said’ and ‘what is implicated’ has met with increasing skepticism over the years and with reactions ranging from reformulation (Bach 2001, Camp 2006) to rejection (Carston 1999, Jaszczolt 2005). In this talk, I go over theoretical and empirical arguments that support the need for a neo-Gricean, minimal notion of ‘what is said’.

UIC TiL: Brad Hoot & Álvaro Recio

Tomorrow we will have a student session of TiL featuring our own Brad Hoot (UIC PhD student) and visiting student Álvaro Recio (University of Salamanca PhD student).  Brad Hoot will present, “An Optimality Theoretic Analysis of Focus in Spanish and English.” His presentation will be conducted in English. Álvaro Recio will present, “Las propiedades argumentales de los complementos del nombre en español,” and his presentation will be given in Spanish.

As always the talk will be at 3 PM in 1750 University Hall with light refreshments provided.

Álvaro Recio (University of Salamanca)
Las propiedades argumentales de los complementos del nombre en español

Son muchos los autores que en las últimas décadas han puesto de relieve el paralelismo existente entre la estructura interna del sintagma nominal y del sintagma verbal. No todos los modificadores realizan la misma aportación al significado de un sintagma, ni tienen idénticas propiedades formales ni gozan del mismo estatuto sintáctico.

De la misma manera que el verbo posee una red argumental que le permite seleccionar determinado tipo de complementos, ciertos sustantivos, bien por herencia deverbal, bien por su propia semántica interna, seleccionan igualmente complementos argumentales. En consecuencia, en el interior de los grupos nominales, de forma paralela a las oraciones, también es preciso distinguir entre argumentos y adjuntos. Si bien en otras lenguas, fundamentalmente inglés, italiano y francés, se han dedicado  numerosos estudios al respecto, en el ámbito hispánico apenas se han esbozado unas pautas generales de clasificación de estos complementos, por lo que se revela necesario un análisis exhaustivo y profundo aplicado al español.

El objetivo de esta charla es presentar las características generales de un proyecto que trata de ahondar en la estructura interna del sintagma nominal en castellano, en los llamados complementos argumentales del sustantivo. Para ello, se expondrán los rasgos fundamentales que permiten determinar qué clases de sustantivos pueden seleccionar argumentos en español, cuál es la estructura de estos y qué tipo de vínculo los enlaza con el núcleo nominal, pues parece que no todos los argumentos tienen el mismo peso dentro del sintagma: el de mayor relieve temático podría ser considerado el “sujeto” del sintagma nominal.

Especial atención se dedicará a las subordinadas sustantivas que se vinculan a un nombre a través de una preposición (por ejemplo, la idea de comprar un coche o el problema de que los alumnos no estudien), ya que muchos aspectos de su funcionamiento están todavía desatendidos. Una rigurosa descripción de los modificadores del sustantivo no puede ignorar este tipo de construcciones y requiere analizar las características de los núcleos que las aceptan, el carácter argumental o no de la oración, así como la elección del modo correspondiente en el verbo subordinado.

UIC TiL: Xuehua Xiang

Tomorrow, October 30th, we’re having another UIC Talk in Linguistics.  This week we have the privilege of presenting another of UIC’s own linguistics, Xuehua Xiang.  The talk, entitled “Linguistic Representation of ‘Self’ and Narrative Co-Construction: A Comparative Discourse Analysis of Celebrity Interviews in American English and Mandarin Chinese” will take place in 1750 University Hall from 3 to 5, with light refreshments provided.


Drawing on 600-minutes of TV/radio interviews featuring celebrity guests, broadcast in Mandarin Chinese in China and American English in the U.S., respectively, this paper is a comparative discourse analysis of the interview as a form of narrative co-construction, as situated within the two cultures.

A preliminary analysis of six Mandarin interviews and six English interviews suggests that English speakers assume a parallel “you” vs.”I” dynamic in co-constructing the interviewee’s personal narrative; English interviewers tend to propel the narrative through mechanisms of A-Event and B-Event (Labov, 1972), i.e., the interviewer shares personal experience and/or reveals personal knowledge about the interviewee, which in effect elicits the interviewee’s autobiographical account. In contrast, the Mandarin interviews manifest a triangular structure whereby the interviewer assumes a mediating role between public consciousness and the
interviewee (cf. Xiang, 2003), i.e., the interviewer highlights the general public’s knowledge gaps, and frames the interviewee’s upcoming narration as being different from, and corrective of, public knowledge. Particularly, both the interviewer and interviewee in the Chinese data highlight the conflict between the interviewee as a social individual (e.g. wo ‘I’, ni ‘you’) and the interviewee as “private” self (e.g. wo/ni ziji “I myself” “you yourself”‘). This duality in the linguistic construction of “self” is not obvious in the English data. Continue reading