Linguistics and English Language

65th Language at Edinburgh lunch

The Language@Edinburgh Lunch is a bi-monthly opportunity to present your work to an interdisciplinary audience in an intimate and feedback-rich setting, all while enjoying a buffet lunch.

Posters by both postgraduate students and academic staff are welcome on any area of human language research - including all sub-fields of linguistics, philosophy of language, natural language processing, psycholinguistics, and any other language related discipline. Reporting on work in progress is equally welcome.

If you would like to present your language-related research, please email us with a title and an abstract by Thursday 29 November, and a digital version (pdf) of your poster by Monday 3 December, which we will print for you and you will get to take home at the end.

Please send the abstracts, posters and other enquiries to:

We would ask you to mind these few guidelines when preparing your abstract:

  • aim at about 100-300 words in length (including any example sentences and references)
  • if linguistic examples are glossed, they should follow the common Leipzig Glossing Rules
  • the abstract may be sent within an email message or as an attachment (doc/docx or txt are fine)
  • if not using plain text, kindly refrain from using formatting that is prone to causing errors or getting lost between conversions (e.g., tabs, small caps; automatic indentation, bullets and numbering).


Saudi Attitudes towards Native and Non-Native Accents of English - Abeer Alshehri

This study investigated 36 Saudi attitudes towards seven English accents: General American English, Southern Standard English, Scottish English, Singapore English, Indian English, Saudi English and Chinese English. The study addresses three research questions: 1)What are the attitudes of Saudi learners towards different English accents from the three circles of Kachru's World English Model (1985, 1992)? 2)Are Saudis able to identify different English accents? 3)Do Saudis prefer certain English accents? To examine these attitudes two methods were employed: verbal guise techniques (VGT), as an indirect method, and questionnaires as a direct approach. The overall findings reveal that Saudi participants have positive attitudes towards native accents, particularly General American English and Scottish English. Southern Standard English was rated low in the VGT, however, it was chosen as a second preference in the direct approach. Furthermore, Saudi participants showed positivity towards their own accent in solidarity dimensions. The findings also indicated that the Saudis were not aware of all English accents and faced considerable difficulties in recognition questions. This study suggests that further research is necessary to validate the results obtained in the current study. There would be benefits in conducting longitudinal studies to identify the direction of attitudinal shifts towards specific accents of English among the population in Saudi Arabia.

Who is “ziji”(self)? Pronoun resolution among Mandarin-English late bilingual speakers during on-line processing - Wenjia Cai

During a conversation, tracking and understanding the reference of pronouns is crucial to fully comprehending interlocutors’ intention. As native speakers of a language, we can locate antecedents to pronouns with much ease and often immediately, that we overlook the fact that pronoun resolution is a complex cognitive process that involve not only linguistic knowledge, but also general cognitive functions such as monitoring, integration and updating. For bilingual speakers, whose two languages are both active and constantly interacting with each other (Costa & Navarrete, 2006; Hatzidaki, Branigan, & Pickering, 2011), this task could be more challenging. In the current study, we want to see how mandarin-English bilingual speakers process reflexive pronouns on-line, and whether their comprehension deviate from their monolingual peers. English and mandarin Chinese has different rules in terms of reflexive-antecedent binding, it would be interesting to see how the discrepancies influence bilinguals speakers’ pronoun resolution in real time. Results from a speeded comprehension task showed that compared to their monolingual peers, bilingual speakers took longer time to process reflexive pronouns, however their answers were more accurate. In addition to the speeded acceptability judgment task, a battery of tasks measuring working memory (see Foster et al., 2015) and cognitive control abilities (see Robertson, Ward, Ridgeway, & Nimmo-Smith, 1994) were also conducted. Some of the cognitive components are correlated with participants’ performance in the judgment tasks, either in reaction time, or in acceptability judgment, or both. We believe that general cognitive functions play a significant role during on-line processing, particularly under the effect of L1 attrition. The results will be discussed in relation to cognitive load of the tasks and individual differences in working memory capacity.

Katuic Presyllables and Derivational Morphology in Diachronic Perspective - Ryan Gehrmann

The phonological history of the Katuic language family, an Austroasiatic sub-group of mainland Southeast Asia, is fairly well understood today (Ferlus 1971, 1974b, 1979; Huffman 1976; Diffloth 1982, Sidwell 2005, Gehrmann 2015, 2016). However, there are two topics which have received relatively little attention in the historical linguistic literature on Katuic: 1) the diachrony of the unstressed, penultimate syllable (presyllable) of Proto-Katuic and 2) the morphophonology of Proto-Katuic. This paper aims to make a contribution in both of these areas by discussing the various structural and sound changes which have affected the presyllables of modern Katuic languages and by reconstructing the morphophonological template and derivational affixes of Proto-Katuic. Changes to the modern Katuic presyllables include the development of presyllable vowel quality contrasts, reanalysis of coda nasals as main syllable onset prenasalization, simplification of geminates or their reanalysis as long consonants, metathesis of coda liquids and simple deletions of coda consonants. Three formal affix types (prefixes, rime-onset infixes and rime infixes) and four morphological processes (nominalization, reciprocation, anticausation and causation) are reconstructed for Proto-Katuic.

Why do-support in Scots is different - Lisa Gotthard

Previous work on Scots syntax tends to assume that do-support follows the English pattern (e.g. Görlach, 2002) despite the fact that Scots exhibited variability between do-support and verb-raising for much longer than English (e.g. Jonas, 2002). Do-support is still not categorical in all dialects of Modern Scots, and this variability highly correlates with a phenomenon present in Scots but not in (Standard) English: the Northern Subject Rule (NSR) (e.g. Smith, 2000). This paper builds on de Haas’s (2011) claim that the -(i)s inflection, employed in Scots NSR varieties to establish subject-verb agreement in environments where Standard English would employ do-support, is in fact a default inflection, while the ø-inflection found where plural pronouns are immediately adjacent to the finite verb is true subject-verb agreement. It will argue that do-support in Scots is more likely to be a transfer from English than an independent development. The variability in the development of Scots do-support is argued to be due to Scots retaining other means of establishing subject-verb agreement, the NSR and verb-raising. Thus, do-support was either acquired for a different function, i.e. as a negation or question marker, or the variability is due to do-support entering a three-way grammar competition to express the same function as the NSR and verb-raising.

Got thingmabobbed in the blitz: differences between SCOTS and DECTE in grammatical uses of get - John Rice-Whetton

As laid out in Gronemeyer (1999), in the history of English, the word get has followed a grammaticalization pathway that has led to it being used in a wide range of different ways. Some work has been done on the use of get in various world Englishes (Bruckmaier, 2016, 2017; Coto-Villalibre, 2014), but there has been little research investigating any variation in regional varieties of Britain. This poster presents a comparison between the use of get in a conversational subset of Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech (SCOTS) and a comparable subset of the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (DECTE). No categorical differences between these two corpora are found in terms of get-constructions found in one that are entirely absent from the other. However, there are significant differences found in the relative frequencies of certain constructions. Specifically, the English of Tyneside displays significantly higher frequencies of inchoative (get angry), motion (get home) and stative possessive constructions (I’ve got blue eyes), when compared with what is found in SCOTS. By contrast, SCOTS shows a significantly higher frequency of causative uses (get things done, get it ready, get your coat on). Furthermore, although there is a similar overall frequency of get-passive examples (get killed) in the two corpora, a difference appears in terms of what conditions its use: inanimate subjects are much more likely to be found with get-passives in SCOTS compared to DECTE.



Language at Edinburgh Lunch committee

Lisa Gotthard, Hana Jee, Alex Lorson, Raji Satarai Madhavan, Hans Wilke

Further information

The Language at Edinburgh Lunch is made possible through funding from the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences and the Human Communication Research Centre, with the intent to facilitate interdisciplinary language research at the University of Edinburgh.

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Reschedule Language at Edinburgh lunch

Further information:

Dec 13 2018 -

65th Language at Edinburgh lunch

2018-12-13: Lunch meeting

Room G.07, The Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB