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of the Summer Institute of Linguistics,
University of North Dakota Session
Volume 47 (2003)
Volume editor: J. Albert Bickford
Thirty endangered languages in the Philippines
Thomas N. Headland
(12 pages, 244 Kb)
There are 6,809 languages spoken in the world today. Conservative estimates are that the world's languages are currently dying at the rate of at least two languages each month, and linguists predict that most of today's languages will die out in the next 100 years. Since 1962, the author has been gathering field data on some of the smallest language groups in the world-the Philippine Negritos. This paper will explain why the thirty-plus Negrito languages in the Philippines are endangered, and what the projected future is for these numerically tiny post-foraging societies in the 21st century. The argument will be supported by a review of the population sizes, interethnic human rights problems, and the environmental destruction of the rainforests of these marginalized peoples.
Lexical comparisons of signed languages and the effects of iconicity
Stephen Parkhurst and Dianne Parkhurst
(17 pages, 585 Kb)
Lexical comparisons of signed languages present new methodological challenges not found in comparisons of spoken languages. Two standards for comparing wordlists are examined using a sample of four European sign languages that are not known to be related to each other and a second sample of different dialects of the signed languages of Spain. The use of different standards is shown to affect the numerical results; comparing signs on the basis of probable historical relatedness typically yields percentages that are 5-10% greater than comparisons on the basis of similarity. The amount of iconicity inherent in signed languages affects the wordlist scores even more. Comparing lexical items that were chosen for their low potential for iconicity resulted in significantly lower scores among unrelated languages than did word lists of basic vocabulary or highly iconic signs. Conversely, the non-iconic word list comparison showed greater similarity between closely related language varieties. Therefore, wordlists that are low in iconicity give more insightful results than wordlists that include significant numbers of iconic items.
An analysis of it-clefts within a Role and Reference Grammar framework
(13 pages, 496 Kb)
The it-cleft construction (e.g. "It was Bill that I saw") is generally accepted to be a marked syntactic bi-clausal option which expresses a simple semantic proposition; in terms of information structure, the construction places an element in focus position, within a copular matrix clause. This element receives an exhaustive interpretation; that is, in the case of (1), it is Bill, and only Bill, that was seen. These clefts lack a straightforward mapping between their syntactic, semantic and pragmatic structures and as a result are a prime construction to illustrate the advantages of Role and Reference Grammar which is able to bring these aspects together in a coherent analysis.
This paper begins with a brief overview of the literature on it-clefts. Following this, an approach to the study of it-clefts in English from a Role and Reference Grammar theory perspective (following Van Valin and LaPolla 1997, 2003) is presented and several key issues highlighted. The analysis also draws from work by Lambrecht (2001) and Davidse (2000). It is demonstrated that a comprehensive account of it-cleft constructions needs to take into account both the way that clefts exploit the copular verb and their relationship to their non-cleft counterpart sentences.
Evidence that demands a verdict?
(12 pages, 149 Kb)
Source—Meaning—Receptor (SMR) theories of translation, such as "dynamic equivalence" and "meaning-based" theories, shifted focus from the equivalence of FORM to the equivalence of MEANING. SMR theories were a significant advance and have been the basis for many modern English translations.
However, SMR theories were formulated when the dominant theory of communication was the code model. Consequently they presumed that meaning was determined almost entirely by a text (utterance) itself. This theory is now rejected in favor of theories that understand interpretation as the inferential product of the interaction of the text with (mind-mediated) context. These newer theories shift the focus from meaning, largely a semantic notion, to the pragmatic/rhetorical dimensions of the text.
It is thus natural to wonder if there is evidence that a SMR approach to translation leads to pragmatic/rhetorical oversights that have negative effects on translations. Here I will propose some candidates, drawing them from various modern English translations.
Featured M.A. Thesis:
Positive orientation towards the vernacular among the Talysh of Sumgayit
This thesis looks at the identification of positive vernacular orientation in the Talysh community of the city of Sumgayit, Azerbaijan, for the purpose of gaining a greater understanding of its causes. Positive vernacular orientation is described in three areas of sociolinguistic behaviour: patterns of vernacular language use, vernacular language proficiency and frequency of vernacular-speaking individuals in social networks. Variation in vernacular orientation is shown to pattern itself according to differences in generation and time of arrival or birth in Sumgayit.