150 research outputs found

    Animacy in early New Zealand english

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    The literature suggests that animacy effects in present-day spoken New Zealand English (NZE) differ from animacy effects in other varieties of English. We seek to determine if such differences have a history in earlier NZE writing or not. We revisit two grammatical phenomena — progressives and genitives — that are well known to be sensitive to animacy effects, and we study these phenomena in corpora sampling 19th- and early 20th-century written NZE; for reference purposes, we also study parallel samples of 19th- and early 20th-century British English and American English. We indeed find significant regional differences between early New Zealand writing and the other varieties in terms of the effect that animacy has on the frequency and probabilities of grammatical phenomena

    1995 Annual Report Palmyra Maine

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    Original scanned reports courtesy of Palmyra Historical Societ

    Measuring analyticity and syntheticity in creoles

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    Creoles (here including expanded pidgins) are commonly viewed as being more analytic than their lexifiers and other languages in terms of grammatical marking. The purpose of the study reported in this article was to examine the validity of this view by measuring the frequency of analytic (and synthetic) markers in corpora of two different English-lexified creoles - Tok Pisin and Hawai'i Creole- and comparing the quantitative results with those for other language varieties. To measure token frequency, 1,000 randomly selected words in each creole corpus were tagged with regard to word class, and categorized as being analytic, synthetic, both analytic and synthetic, or purely lexical. On this basis, an Analyticity Index and a Syntheticity Index were calculated. These were first compared to indices for other languages and then to L1 varieties of English (e.g. standard British and American English and British dialects) and L2 varieties (e.g. Singapore English and Hong Kong English). Type frequency was determined by the size of the inventories of analytic and synthetic markers used in the corpora, and similar comparisons were made. The results show that in terms of both token and type frequency of grammatical markers, the creoles are not more analytic than the other varieties. However, they are significantly less synthetic, resulting in much higher ratios of analytic to synthetic marking. An explanation for this finding relates to the particular strategy for grammatical expansion used by individuals when the creoles were developing

    Animacy effects in the English genitive alternation:comparing native speakers and EFL learner judgments with corpus data

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    Recent years have seen a heightened interest in the interface between language use and cognition in language learners. In this study, we investigate this interface further by conducting a rating task experiment on the intuitions of 25 native speakers and 101 low–intermediate to advanced learners of English as a Foreign Language regarding the acceptability of the genitive variants (the beauty of nature/nature’s beauty) in different contexts. These ratings were then compared against existing corpus-based statistical models that predict which variant is most likely in spoken language use with two mixed-effects linear regression models. The first model focused on the animacy of the possessor in particular, which has been found to have a different effect on native speakers and EFL learners in language use, whereas the second model tested how the ratings relate to the predictions as a whole. Results show that there is a larger discrepancy between language use and intuitions of low-proficiency learners compared to native speakers, which is partially because animate, collective, and inanimate possessors affect the intuitions and the language use of learners differently

    General introduction:a comparative perspective on probabilistic variation in grammar

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    This special collection brings together research exploring and evaluating probabilistic variation patterns from a comparative perspective, thus highlighting current work situated at the crossroads of research on usage-based theoretical linguistics, variationist linguistics, and sociolinguistics. The contributions in the collection advance our understanding of the plasticity of syntactic knowledge on the part of language users with diverse regional and/or cultural backgrounds, and demonstrate how a probabilistic approach to grammatical variation can offer insight into the scope and limits of language variation. In this general introduction to the special collection, we provide some essential background for perspective, and subsequently summarize the contributions in the collection

    Around the world in three alternations:Modeling syntactic variation in global varieties of English

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    We sketch a project that marries probabilistic grammar research to scholarship on World Englishes, thus synthesizing two previously rather disjoint lines of research into one unifying project with a coherent focus. This synthesis is hoped to advance usage-based theoretical linguistics by adopting a large-scale comparative and sociolinguistically responsible perspective on grammatical variation. To highlight the descriptive and theoretical benefits of the approach, we present case studies of three syntactic alternations (the particle placement, genitive, and dative alternations) in four varieties of English (British, Canadian, Indian, and Singapore), as represented in the International Corpus of English. We report that the varieties studied share a core probabilistic grammar which is, however, subject to indigenization at various degrees of subtlety, depending on the abstractness of the syntactic patterns studied

    Cognitive indigenization effects in the English dative alternation

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    We advance theory formation in cognitive sociolinguistics by exploring the extent to which language users’ probabilistic grammar varies regionally. For this purpose, we investigate the effects of constraints that influence the choice between the two syntactic variants in the well-known dative alternation (I give Mary a book vs. I give a book to Mary) across nine post-colonial varieties of English. Using mixed-effects logistic regression and adopting a large-scale comparative perspective, we illustrate that on the one hand, stability in probabilistic grammars prevails across speakers of diverse regional and cultural backgrounds. On the other hand, traces of indigenization are found in those contexts where shifting usage frequencies in language-internal variation seem to have led to regional differences between users’ probabilistic grammar(s). Within a psycholinguistically grounded model of probabilistic grammar, we interpret these results from various explanatory perspectives, including language contact phenomena, second language acquisition, and semantic variation and change