Current Graduate students projects in Theoretical and Empirical Linguistics
My project investigates whether lexical stress is a relevant factor in the distribution of phonemes. We compared the distribution of consonants in Spanish, English and Dutch words that start with either a stressed or an unstressed syllable, and the results undeniably show different distributional patterns for the two word types.
Columbia School Phonology (Diver 2012) uses the concept of word recognition to explain distributional patterns, and t he explanation of our results is based on the premise that stress information from the first syllable of a word facilitates word recognition in Spanish, English and Dutch. There is empirical evidence supporting this claim for English and Dutch (Cooper, Cutler & Wales 2002; Van Heuven 1988) , but but not for Spanish yet.
Therefore, we will carry out an adjusted replication of the Spanish word recognition experiment in Soto-Faraco, Sebastián-Gallés and Cutler (2001), in which the disyllabic primes will be replaced with monosyllabic primes.
The cognitive representation of change-of-state events in speakers of different languages
We are very used to use our senses to perceive the continuum of events happing around us, however, what is the role of language in this cognitive process? Several studies about motion, agency and labeling have found that language is especially important for increasing the salience of particular world features in our mind. Our research aims to examine the influence of using language-specific structures on the cognitive processes involved in the visual perception and mental representation of change of state events across language speakers. To investigate this, two matters need to be observed: a) which linguistic patterns do speakers across languages typically use to describe change of state undergone by objects, and b) by virtue of which cognitive processes do humans apprehend changes of state in the world. The central question directing this project is: to what extent does being habituated to describe changes of state by means of language-specific structures influence the performance of the cognitive processes involved in representing change-of-state events? We are looking into how attention allocation, memory, categorization and segmentation processes of Spanish, Dutch and Mandarin speakers may vary in function of specific characteristics of their mother tongue.
Generational Vowel Change and Code-Switching in Finland-Swedish
"My PhD research project is a sociolinguistic investigation into linguistic change in Finland-Swedish, which is a variety of Swedish spoken as a minority language in Finland. For centuries Finnish and Swedish were largely spoken in different regions and culturally distinct communities in Finland, but lately the Finnish society has become more linguistically mixed. My research project examines generational vowel change and lexical change occurring in the Finland-Swedish community due to increasing linguistic influence from Finnish. The degree of variation is expected to relate not only to the amount of direct contact individuals have with the Finnish language, but also to the linguistic identity and language choices of the Finland-Swedish speakers.
The dynamic between Finnish and Finland-Swedish is interesting due to the long history of Swedish being spoken in Finland, as well as the minority variety’s status as a national language, in spite of having fewer than 300,000 native speakers. Additionally, the emphasis on linguistic change due to majority language influence makes the study highly relevant to research related to minority and heritage languages."
In my PhD project I study the concept of hospitality from a pragmalinguistic perspective. I specifically focus on the issue of the gap between the pragmatic message of an utterance that is expressed by means of speech acts and the linguistic forms involved to construct these acts. In this regard, I am particularly interested in the contribution of certain linguistic forms in Spanish, such as modes of address and verb moods, to the pragmatic message conveyed in hospitality situations. Nobody is surprised or offended when the verb mood used in these messages is the imperative – surprisingly a mood that is traditionally related to giving orders, a rather hostile act.
The central aim of my PhD project is to contribute to Hospitality Studies as an academic field taking a pragmalinguistic approach. This enables me to study a rather intangible concept (i.e., hospitality) within a rather rigid theoretical framework (i.e., Pragmalinguistics). To this end, I analyze a wide variety of data sources, including a novel, a biography, and radio phone-in conversations. This enables me to tap into a wider spectrum of linguistic forms that are related to hospitality, and as such, enriches the proposed definition of hospitality that I provide in my dissertation.
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