April 12, 2017

Some new publications (April 2017)

We've had four recent publications that include the following authors from our department (faculty, unless otherwise stated): Diane Massam, Alexei Kochetov, Yoonjung Kang, Aaron Dinkin, Sali Tagliamonte, and Alexandra D’Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria).

Diane Massam: "Extra be: The syntax of shared shell-noun constructions in English" (Language, 93 (1), March 2017)
This article examines the syntax of extra be constructions, common in nonprescriptive English and often considered a curiosity, such as: The problem is, is that she hates apples. It has been claimed that there are many different types of extra be constructions, with the two main types being double be and single be, but this article argues that these distinctions are largely superficial. The article reviews previous accounts, presents the complex data, and categorizes most cases of extra be into one unified syntactic construction, the shared shell-noun construction. It is argued that such constructions are syntactically fairly ordinary biclausal specificational copular sentences, consisting of a setup clause and a resolution clause, which share an argument. A second construction is also proposed for one subset of examples, the linking focus be construction, where be lexicalizes a left-peripheral focus head.
Alexei Kochetov & Yoonjung Kang: "Supralaryngeal implementation of length and laryngeal contrasts in Japanese and Korean" (Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 62(1), March/mars 2017)
This article investigates supralaryngeal characteristics of Japanese and Korean length and laryngeal contrasts in stops and affricates. Electropalatography data collected from five Japanese and five Korean speakers revealed similar differences among the consonants in the degree of linguopalatal contact and duration of the closure. Japanese (voiceless) geminate and Korean fortis obstruents were most constricted and had the longest duration (although considerably longer in Japanese). Japanese voiced and Korean lenis obstruents were least constricted and had the shortest duration. Japanese voiceless (singleton) and Korean aspirated obstruents showed intermediate degree of contact and duration. Both stops and affricates showed a positive correlation between degree of contact and duration. The results show that the two very different sets of phonological contrasts are implemented similarly at the supralaryngeal level. These cross-language similarities and cross-category differences are proposed to result from the application of independently-motivated phonetic enhancement rules to distinct phonological representations of laryngeal/length contrasts in the two languages.
Aaron Dinkin: "Variant-centered variation and the like conspiracy" (Linguistic Variation, 16)
The conventional methodology of variationist linguistics foregrounds the variable as the object of study: each variant is situated in the envelope of variation against the other variants it competes with. This paper argues that it is necessary to look beyond the context of the alternations a variant participates in in order to get a full picture of the factors affecting variation. The multi-functional variant like is used as a case study to illustrate the value of a variant-centered analysis: the fact that several distinct variables are all simultaneously changing toward the variant like suggests that a variant can be targeted for change across multiple variables, parallelling Campbell-Kibler (2011)’s model of the variant as the carrier of sociolinguistic meaning. It is conjectured that the set of changes toward like can be explained as a top-down discursive change targeting like as an indicator of vague literality, a function it retains in multiple distinct variable contexts.
Sali A. Tagliamonte, Alexandra D’Arcy, and Celeste Rodríguez Louro: "Outliers, impact, and rationalization in linguistic change" (Language, 92 (4), December 2016)
Quotative be like is a rapid global innovation, yet no evidence pinpoints when it arose, under what circumstances, or the consequences of its emergence. Using a data set spanning four cities and two hemispheres, we document systemic regularity across time and space. The results force us to confront three issues: the uniformitarian principle, the criterion of face-to-face contact in the diffusion of language change, and the nature of language as a complex adaptive system. Be like is an outlier, it has had a major impact on the linguistic system, and it can only be rationalized by hindsight, demonstrating the possibility of significant random events outside the predictable structures and processes in language. We conclude by suggesting that be like is a (linguistic) black swan event (Taleb 2010).

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