zum Inhalt springen

Abstracts: Student Projects

Lea Bachmann & Franziska Sprenger:
German native speaker's knowledge of prominent heritage languages

We will be presenting our project which is concerned with the pronunciation of Italian and Turkish names by native German speakers. We chose this topic because Cologne is home to people with various ethnicities and different native languages. Some of those languages are somewhat prominent in everyone’s everyday life, which is why one could assume that people who don’t know said languages have acquired a general feeling for them. Therefore, we want to find out if people who are not further familiar with one or two of those languages (e.g., Turkish) are able to pronounce names correctly that require a pronunciation that diverts from the one that would be chosen based on German phonological rules.

To test this, we have chosen four different short texts which include a mixture of names each. The participants will be asked to read these texts out loud and are then asked a question about the content of the text which will help to conceal the actual purpose of the study.

For our presentation we would like to start of by giving some background information on why we are interested in this topic and also provide some theory we have found. We would then continue to present the names and texts we have chosen. Lastly, we would like to talk about the interviews we have done so far (still a work in progress). some preliminary results and what we expect to find further down the line.

Kimberly Baxter:
Syntactic Variation in African American English: The Case of Perfective done

African American English (AAE) is arguably one of the most widely studied dialects of American English. To date, there are numerous sociolinguistic studies that show AAE varies phonologically at the regional level thereby challenging earlier myths of AAE as a linguistic monolith (Wolfram 2007). While AAE is shown to vary phonologically, there exists a small body of literature that shows syntactic variation across regions (eg., Terry 2010, Moody 2011). In this study, I examine syntactic variation in AAE, with a focus on regional variation of perfective done. I am interested in testing my hypothesis that perfective done may behave differently in different regions in the United States both in terms of distribution and/or function, as well as frequency.  I will discuss the structure of AAE and where this part of speech fits into it; I will then discuss the Twitter Data and how it was collected; in the following section, I discuss the analysis, and finally I discuss the preliminary findings, as well as showing the rough images of a language map displaying these findings.

Amalia Canes Nápoles:
Sociolinguistic Variation of Spoken Cuban Spanish

The talk presents a pilot study on the sociolinguistic variation of Cuban Spanish, as spoken
in the city of Havana. The study aims at exploring the linguistic variation across social class
(i.e. educational level and occupation) and the competition between educational level and
occupation in the formation of the prestigious language in today's Cuban society.

Cuban Spanish, Sociolinguistics, social strati cation, Havana, phonological variation

Alessia Cassarà:
Sicilian: Language attitude and maintenance in nowadays Sicily

In my project, I investigate mainly language attitude toward Sicilian. Sicilian is a non-official language spoken by around 4.000.000 people in Sicily, in the Mediterranean Sea. By investigating how speakers perceive their own language, I try to make predictions on how the language is (and will be) maintained.

The main hypothesis of the project is that Sicilian is better preserved in the mountains rather than in the coastal cities. This hypothesis builds on the intuition that there is a more positive attitude toward the language in isolated communities, i.e. the small towns located in the mountains. Conversely, coastal towns are generally easier to reach, and have more contact with external communities (e.g. people coming from other towns in Sicily or tourists). As a consequence, there is a higher likelihood that their attitude toward Sicilian is less favorable, and the language less preserved.

To test this hypothesis, a pilot study has been conducted, interviewing a balanced sample of speakers from both the mountain and the coastal towns. During the interview, speakers were asked a series of questions that aimed at reflecting their language-skills (self-evaluation), their perception and attitude toward Sicilian and their will to maintain/transmit the language.

The first indication that the hypothesis is on the right track comes from the fact that finding speakers of Sicilian coming from the coastal towns has been much harder than finding speakers in the mountains. Moreover, the recordings show that, even when speakers from the coast are willing to conduct the interview in Sicilian, there is a higher tendency to code-switch to Italian than speakers from the mountains, who, conversely, were able to speak Sicilian for the total duration of the interview.

As for the answers to the questions, there seems to be a general positive feeling toward the language from both groups of speakers. However, when asked ‘would you speak to your child in Sicilian?’, both speakers from the coast and speakers from the mountain answered this question negatively.

Eric Engel:
Variation and style in the speech of the elderly: Insights from (dis-)fluency

Previous work in clinical linguistics has linked differences in speech complexity and fluency within the population of the elderly people to a decline of cognitive abilities, with the basic idea that less complex and more disfluent utterances reflect health-related speech deficits. However, this line of research usually does not pay sufficient attention to non-health-related aspects of variation, specifically the question what aspects of complex speech are socially salient as indicators of “good” or “educated” style and can serve the function of identity construal. In this presentation, I explore the relationship between aspects of fluent speech (speed, breakdown, and repair) on the one hand, and social as well as cognitive characteristics of the speakers on the other, using data from a corpus of micro-interviews with people aged 80 years and older living in North-Rhine Westphalia.

Zahra Farokhnejad:
Variations in Kurdish Ilam

Since the Kurdish dialect of Ilam (one of the many Kurdish dialects of Iran which is spoken in west of the country) is a minority language that is used just in spoken form, it is to some extent incapable of meeting its speakers needs in Formal registers. Because of this it lacks the normal you (formal)/ you (informal) distinction that leads its speakers to shift to the Standard Persian language.

In this research project I want to figure out what other syntactic variation can be distinguished between formal and informal registers of Kurdish.   

My hypothesis is that Kurdish language has the tendency to drop the subject and dislocate the object to the post-verbal position in the informal and intimate register.

To test this hypothesis 8 talks between 5 native speakers, which were recorded for another project (Code-switching from Kurdish to Persian) were analyzed. In the meanwhile 8 other talks are in the process of being recorded, will be transcribed in Elan 6.1, annotated and then analyzed for more findings.

Selikem Gotah:
Variation in Relativization in Hogbe-Ewe

This project explores relativization in the Hogbe dialect of Ewe spoken in Ghana. In particular, it looks at the variation in the use of relativizers. The specific preliminary goal of the project is to determine what social factors influence the choice of relativizers. Further work will seek to determine whether combinations of these social factors and language-internal factors make any difference in the use of Hogbe relativizers.

Laura Günther:
Language attitude in Quechua speaking communities around Sucre, Bolivia, over 3 generations

I am very interested in language shift and reasons for language shift, so I wanted to find out more about a language which is currently a minority language threatened by another, bigger language. Quechua fits this profile very well since it is slowly being replaced by Spanish since the conquest of South America. Quechua is actually more a language family than a single language which is spoken mostly in the Andes mountains of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador by around 7 million people. According to the World Atlas of Languages in Danger, Bolivian Quechua is a language at risk, although it is still spoken by 2 300 000 people. I focussed on the Bolivian Quechua spoken in the region of Sucre, Chuquisaca and the neighbouring region of Potosí and Cochabamba. Bolivia has many more indigenous languages, the largest being Quechua, Aymara and Guaraní.

I designed 3 questionnaires for the 3 generations to better understand people’s attitude towards Quechua and to see if there is an obvious change in the answers over the generations. My language informant is currently interviewing 15 people, aged 11-70 years, who speak Quechua as a first language. Some of them speak Spanish as a first language as well, some of them learned it later in their life as a second language. 5 of these interviewees were of the grandparent generation, 5 of the parent generation and 5 of the children generation. We tried to get the interviewees from different families in order to not get a distorted result. The questions asked by my language informant regard the environment in which the participant grew up, to see if there is a difference between people from the city and people from rural areas, as well as the language they speak with their parents and children and their personal opinion about Quechua and language maintenance.

So far, we can see, that people of any age who grew up in rural areas almost always speak Quechua, while in the city it is more probable, that the language isn’t passed on to the next generation. Also, for Quechua-speaking people the language attitude doesn’t seem to change very much over the generations. For most of them the language is regarded as mean of communication but some also see it as part of their history and cultural heritage.

Miranda Lalinde:
Language attitude change of the Embera Chami community in Corea Alta in Antioquia, Colombia

This research project documents and analyses the language attitude change of a small Embera Chamí community in the state of Antioquia, Colombia. The data was collected through conversational sociolinguistic interviews with six of its members belonging to  three different generations. The ages of the six interviewees range between 12 and 67, and they all have different educational levels. An additional interview was done with an indigenous Embera Chamí teacher from a different community, who has the highest level  of education of all the interviewees. The questions of the interviews pertained to how they learned their native language and how they learned Spanish, what their skills they have in each language, and what is the linguistic environment in their community. The  results show that younger generations consider the native language to be important, but due to lack of resources, it is difficult for them to learn and to use it in everyday life. This is in spite of the fact that they live in multigenerational households with bilingual parents and grandparents. Middle-age adults (between 30 and 45) have a fine grasp on both languages, and consider important that their children learn Embera Chamí. Elders have, according to most interviewees, the best version of the language, and speak it the most. The language attitudes are divided into three components: cognitive (thoughts and beliefs), affective (feelings), and readiness (actions). The analysis looks at these three components and how they are different in every generation.

Vahid Mortezapour:
Competing networks: Tracing the roots of language maintenance and shift in personal social networks

The degree to which people with migration background continue to use their community language is different from community to community and person to person. No doubt, besides individual differences, speakers’ social environment and the structure of their social networks can influence their ability and willingness to maintain their heritage language. This study will primarily answer this question that if there is a relation between the structure of social networks and language shifting and maintenance and if yes, which features of a network correlate with the shifting status.

My participants are 1.5 generation Iranian immigrants who have moved to Germany in their childhood or in their early adolescence and have lived and attended school in Germany for at least 5 years. They all learnt Persian as their first language and speak German as a native speaker.

The initial results show that some structural features of networks have direct relation with language shifting and maintenance. For instance, homophily in the primary network and the strength of ties are two indicators of language shifting status. More specifically, those who have more L2 speakers in the primary circle of their network, irrespective of the number of L1 speakers in the further circles tend to be more shifters. Similarly, speakers tend to be more similar to their strong ties in terms of L1/L2 usage.

Abed Qaddoumi:
Arabic Variation of Qar in Jordan

As previous work has documented Alwar 2011 The lifecycle of Qaf in Jordan, it was noted that Ammani speakers variably change their pronunciation of Qaf. This project collects interviews of Jordanians of rural Palestinian origin to quantitatively study the Qaf variation. I address the following questions:

1. Can we substantiate previous claims concerning the envelope of variation for this variable?

2. Is it changing in real-time?

3. What is the attitude toward the Ammani dialect of Jordanian of Palestinians rural origin?

Begum Saridede:
Language Use and Attitude of Crimean Tatars in Turkey

In my study I have interviewed with 2 male Crimean Tatar speakers of different generations. First interviewer is 82 and one of the bilingual speakers. The other one is 50 and one of the last speakers of the language. We cannot even say he speaks the language but by his words we can say he speaks 51%. I used Essizewa (2006)’s questionnaire to understand their level of Tatarian use and their attitudes to the language. I have found out that the language is not used even among Tatar families. Tatarian is about to extinct but there is no intentions to make them exist in Turkey. Even though they are proud of their ethnicity and culture and enjoy talking in Crimean Tatar language, they are impressed by Turkish language and choose to speak the language of majority (Turkish), instead of speaking their own language. They struggle to use some words to teach the language to next generations, however, they are aware that personal intentions will not be enough to make the language exist.

Sina Voss:
The role of Amharic and the other four official languages in Ethiopia: Oromo, Somali, Afar and Tigrinya

The presentation is going to be an overview of the linguistic situation in Ethiopia at the moment. Several key topics will be explored in a general way: language attitude and language change as well as the interrelation of the feeling of identity and language. For this, a questionnaire was distributed online and then four interviews were conducted in order to receive more detailed data on language attitude.

The main focus was on the role of Amharic as well as the other four official languages in Ethiopia: Oromo, Somali, Afar and Tigrinya. My data for the interviews has been collected in Addis Abeba which is Ethiopia’s capital, but the online survey was filled out in different cities across Ethiopia. However the majority of participants was also in Addis Abeba.


zum Seitenanfang