Browsing by Subject "linguistics"

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-12 of 12
  • Roth, Tim (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Ikoma and Ngoreme are two closely-related, endangered Bantu languages in northwestern Tanzania. The tense/aspect (T/A) systems in Ikoma and Ngoreme are relatively unusual for Bantu in that tense marking is severely limited. Tense function is shown to be a largely emergent phenomenon in Ikoma and Ngoreme. With this in mind, I argue that perfective and imperfective aspect reflect completion and non-completion of the situation nucleus, respectively (Crane 2011), and form the core of the Ikoma and Ngoreme temporal systems. Ikoma, however, also has a Vká- formative which functions as a pseudo-perfective and progressive. I analyze this form as a nucleative, a form which encodes the situation nucleus itself. Despite being relatively rare on the African continent (Aikhenvald 2004), this nucleative Vká- in Ikoma manifests firsthand/eyewitness evidentiality. The central aim of this dissertation is to provide a description and analysis of aspect in Ikoma and Ngoreme. This work includes data obtained from fieldwork in Musoma with multiple speakers from both languages, collected over the course of three two-week-long trips in 2014, 2016, and 2018. My analysis includes both form and function, and a focus on the interface between lexical and grammatical aspect. Along with the perfective/imperfective contrast, Ikoma and Ngoreme are shown to have a foundational contrast between punctive and durative verbs (Kershner 2002), with canonical stative verbs behaving as transitional punctives. Domains theory (Botne and Kershner 2008) is used to visually model the TAM distinctions. This study is also comparative, demonstrating that even if closely-related Bantu languages have similar T/A morphology (and systems) in form, the functional elements of their lexical and grammatical aspectual interface can still be quite different. Understanding this type of microvariation hopefully leads to a better understanding of the historical evolution of these T/A systems. The historical evidence leads to the possibility that the reduced-tense systems of Ikoma and Ngoreme are not the result of the expansion and later retraction of tense, but are retentions from Proto-Bantu. The fact that Ikoma and Ngoreme are located near Lake Victoria, an area of considerable interest as it relates to the Bantu expansion, is intriguing in this regard.
  • Sairio, Anni Riitta Susanna; Kaislaniemi, Samuli; Merikallio, Anna Maria; Nevalainen, Taimi Terttu Annikki (2018)
  • Kormacheva, Daria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis addresses the topic of collocations and their behavior based on Russian language data. In the course of four articles, I develop a better understanding of collocations that is based on a corpus-driven approach. Collocations are defined as statistically significant co-occurrences of tokens or lexemes within a syntactic phrase that are extracted by statistics-based automatic analysis tools and are restricted to various extents: from semantically not-idiomatic to full idioms. In the article “Evaluation of collocation extraction methods for the Russian language” (2017), my co-authors and I discuss of the methods used to extract statistical collocations and provide results pertaining to the comparison of five metrics for extracting statistics-based collocations as well as the raw frequency. First, this research has demonstrated that the results of the discussed metrics are often correlated and, second, that the degree of idiomaticity of the extracted units varies significantly. In “What do we get from extracting collocations? Linguistic analysis of automatically obtained Russian MWEs” (2015), I offer a comparison of the empirical and phraseological perspectives on collocations and introduce research where I attempt to position empirical collocations within the scope of a phraseological theory. This research demonstrates that empirical collocations have different tendencies to form idiomatic lexical units and I reveal the shortcomings of describing the idiomaticity of expressions in terms of strict classes. In “Choosing between lexeme vs. token in Russian collocations” (2019), I examine grammatical profiling as a method used to define the optimal level of representation for collocations. I have demonstrated that collocations have different distributional preferences across the corpus. I have also analyzed the relationship between token and lexeme collocations based on the degree to which their grammatical profiles resemble the grammatical profiles of their headwords (although the border between the two types is not clear-cut). I also offered a plausible method of differentiating between these two collocation types. Finally, in “Constructional generalization over Russian collocations” (2016) my co-authors and I present the main concepts of Construction Grammar and introduce the research where a substantial number of automatically extracted collocations were demonstrated to form clusters of words that belong to the same semantic class, even when they are not idiomatic. Such constructional generalizations have shown that there is a more abstract level on which collocations can be stable as a class rather than on the level of single collocations.
  • Peräkylä, Anssi; Buchholz, Michael B. (2021)
  • Buysse, Manon (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Clause linking, or the incorporation of multiple predications within a complex linguistic unit, is an essential component of efficient language use, but also a major hurdle in the language learning process. Although discrete aspects of clause linking and its development in second language acquisition (SLA) have been studied before, a comprehensive and theoretically unified approach to the phenomenon in SLA is still lacking. To redress this gap, the study presented in this doctoral dissertation proposes a model of clause linking and its development in SLA based on the theoretical framework of Role and Reference Grammar (RRG; Van Valin and LaPolla 1997, Van Valin 2005) and its application to first language acquisition (Van Valin 2001). It provides a detailed account of clause linking, formalized in the Interclausal Relations Hierarchy (IRH; Van Valin 2005), which takes into account various structural levels of language and considers both the syntactic and the semantic aspects of clause linking. Oral narratives in L2 French and English were transcribed and divided into four groups based on their overall proficiency level in the L2, resulting in a total of 100 (4 x 25) samples per L2. Matched narrative production data from 25 native speakers of each target language served as a benchmark for our analyses. Results provide evidence for the universality of RRG s hypotheses in the sense that L2 learners seem to be guided by the same principles as L1 acquirers; forms of linkage characterized by similar syntactic and semantic strength are acquired more easily (as predicted by the IRH), and syntactic junctures at particular structural levels are associated with particular semantic relations between events. However, our L2 productions were also found to develop differently from those of Van Valin s (2001) young L1 acquirers in various respects: our L2 learners produce complex clauses from early stages of development onwards, as the hurdles they encounter in mastering the various L2 linking devices are unrelated to the development of their cognitive abilities or discourse organization capacities. In addition, we observed that the learners of L2 French and those of L2 English behave rather similarly in how they establish clause linking at various stages of development, but also deviate from one another in non-trivial ways which merit further research.
  • Marton, Enikö (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The present doctoral dissertation addresses the overarching research question of what motivates majority language users to learn and use minority languages. The individual papers focused on the following aspects: What factors support majority language-speaking high school students’ willingness to communicate (WTC, MacIntyre et al., 1998) in the minority language? How does minority language speakers’ feedback influence majority language speakers’ L2 use? How does the difference in the availability of the minority language in a monolingual vs. bilingual municipality influence majority language speakers’ motivation in learning the minority language? Are there contextual limitations to the utility of central concepts from competing L2 motivation theories? How does L2 motivation unfold among hearing L2 learners who learn and use a sign language? How do L2 attitudes and L2 use influence each other among majority language-speaking learners when learning a minority language? The research was conducted in four substantially different bilingual contexts: among Slovene speakers from the Dolinsko/Lendvavidék region in Slovenia who learn Hungarian as an L2 (Article 1), Finnish speakers who learn Swedish as an L2 (Articles 2 and 3), hearing Finnish speakers who learn Finnish Sign Language (FSL) as an L2 (Article 4), and Italian speakers from the South Tyrol region in Italy who learn German as an L2 (Article 5). All the articles utilised path analysis. Article 1 found, among Slovene-speaking learners of L2 Hungarian (N = 119), that WTC was supported by more positive perceptions regarding the ethnolinguistic vitality (ELV) of the L2 group, and that the effect of ELV on WTC was transmitted through a chain of L2 motivational variables. Article 2 found, among Finnish-speaking learners of L2 Swedish (N = 254), that more frequent and more positive contact with Swedish speakers predicted higher L2 confidence (Clément, 1980) in Swedish, which in turn significantly predicted L2 use. However, the effect of L2 confidence on L2 use was moderated by the quality of the feedback that L2 learners received from Swedish speakers. Article 3 found, among Finnish-speaking learners of L2 Swedish, that in the monolingual setting, the role of practical benefits attached to good L2 skills was salient, whereas in the Finnish-Swedish bilingual setting, SLA was supported by integrativeness. The results indicate that ideal L2 self (Dörnyei, 2005) is a key concept in SLA in both contexts, whereas instrumental and integrative orientation (Gardner, 1985) are more context-dependent concepts. Article 4 found, among hearing learners of FSL (N = 173), that L2 experiences, integrativeness, and instrumental orientation significantly predicted ideal L2 self, and that L2 competence mediated the effect of ideal L2 self on L2 use. In addition, integrativeness significantly moderated the effect of L2 competence on L2 use. Article 5 found, among Italian-speaking leaners of L2 German (N = 315), that L2 attitudes and L2 use mutually influence each other. In addition, L2 related peer norms significantly moderated the effect of L2 attitudes on L2 motivation. Overall, this dissertation confirms the assumption that there are two broad avenues to SLA (MacIntyre, 2010), the integrative/affective and the instrumental/cognitive.The results also indicate that the use of minority languages can also be enhanced at the interactional level.
  • Halla-aho, Hilla (Brill, 2018)
    In the construction known as left-dislocation, an element appears in a fronted position, before the clause to which it belongs, usually introducing the topic of the sentence. Based on a detailed analysis of syntax, information structure and pragmatic organization, this study explores how left-dislocation is used in republican Latin comedy, prose and inscriptions as a device to introduce topics or other pragmatically prominent elements. Taking into consideration especially relative clause syntax and constraints of each text type, Hilla Halla-aho shows that, in the context of early Latin syntax and the evolving standards of the written language, left-dislocation performs similar functions in dramatic dialogue, legal inscriptions and archaic prose.
  • Vetchinnikova, Svetlana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This work sets out to examine how second language (L2) users of English acquire, use and process lexical items. For this purpose three types of data were collected from five non-native students of the University of Helsinki. First, each student s drafts of Master s thesis chapters written over a period of time were compiled into a language usage corpus. Second, academic publications a student referred to in her thesis were compiled into a corpus representing her language exposure. Third, several hundreds of words a student used in her thesis were presented to her as stimuli in word association tasks to obtain psycholinguistic data on the representation of the patterns in the mind. Lexical usage patterns, conceived of in accordance with John Sinclair s conceptualisation of lexis and meaning, were then compared to (1) language exposure and (2) word association responses. The results of this triangulation show that, contrary to mainstream thinking in SLA, language production on the idiom principle, i.e. by retrieving holistic patterns glued by syntagmatic association rather than constructing them word by word, is available to L2 users to a much larger degree than is often claimed. More than half of significant multi-word units used by the students also occur in the language they were exposed to. The idiosyncratic multi-word units are often a result of approximation or fixing. Approximation is a process through which a more or less fixed pattern loosens and becomes variable on the semantic or grammatical axis due to frequency effects and the properties of human memory. Fixing, on the other hand, is a reverse process making the wording of the pattern become overly fixed through repeated usage. Neither of the processes damage the meaning communicated in any way. Word association responses also support the main conclusion of the availability of the idiom principle showing that multi-word units used are also represented holistically in the mind and so confirming the continuity between exposure, usage and psycholinguistic representation. Furthermore, they suggest that the model of a unit of meaning developed by Sinclair has psycholinguistic reality as representations of lexical items in the mind seem to mirror the components of a unit of meaning: collocation, colligation and semantic preference. This work offers an in-depth discussion of Sinclair s conceptualisation of meaning and a novel methodology for studying units of meaning in L2 use both quantitatively and qualitatively by triangulating usage, exposure and word association data. It is hoped that the dissertation will be of interest to scholars specialising in second language acquisition and use, English as a lingua franca, phraseological view of language and corpus linguistic methodology.
  • Killian, Don (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This dissertation investigates the grammar and phonology of Uduk, a language belonging to the Koman branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. Uduk is spoken by approximately 20 to 25,000 speakers, whose community homeland was in the southern part of the former Blue Nile Province of Sudan. Due to continuing war conditions since the late 1980s, the majority are now living scattered in the international diaspora, as well as in refugee camps in Ethiopia and South Sudan. The description provides an analysis of the phonology, morphology, and syntax based on thirteen months of fieldwork between 2011 and 2014. Included in the grammatical description are sixteen glossed texts, to help illustrate the grammar in context. Most major aspects of the language are described and analyzed in detail. This includes the segmental and suprasegmental phonology, nouns and noun phrases, pronouns and agreement marking, nominal and verbal modifiers, verbs and verb phrases, major clause types, and clause linking. Uduk has a rich phonology; the main dialect of Uduk has 55 contrastive consonant phonemes, 21 of which occur as a result of the secondary feature labialization. There are three contrastive tone levels in Uduk, and seven possible register/contour melodies on a single TBU. There is also a complex interaction between consonants and tone which has given rise to a depressor consonant effect. This is one of the first Nilo-Saharan languages known to have such. Argument structure and morphosyntax are equally interesting. Uduk has morphologically marked cases for both Accusative as well as Ergative, depending on the constituent order. Uduk nouns exhibit grammatical gender, the assignment of which has nearly no semantic correlations, even minimal ones relating to animacy or biological sex. Uduk verb forms use polysemous grammatical suffixes which mark either the location of an action or its internal aspect, and spatial deixis and aspect are heavily intertwined. Spatial orientation and location thus form a fundamental part of basic verbal inflectional categories. In addition to morphological marking on the basic verb root, many verbs additionally carry discontinuous incorporated nouns called Partarguments. Partarguments are typically body parts, and may function either to classify an argument or then to change the basic meaning of the verb. These as well as other linguistic features make this description a valuable resource for Nilo-Saharan linguists as well as those interested in the typology of African languages.
  • Crane, Thera Marie; Fleisch, Axel Gustav (Finnish Oriental Society, 2019)
    Studia Orientalia
    Verbal lexical aspectual structure is a domain in which infinite meaning possibilities meet a closed set of grammatical categories. It is therefore a fruitful area for investigations of subtle cross-linguistic semantic differences, as well as of contact-induced semantic change. Bantu lexical aspectual systems typically include "complex" lexicalizations denoting both a coming-to-be phase and a resultant state (e.g. the same verb in different frame can encode both 'get angry' and 'be angry'). At least some Bantu lexical aspectual types are, therefore, difficult to account for using traditional classifications (e.g. Vendler 1957), and the tests frequently used to arrive at classifications may also not be applicable. In this paper, we describe our pilot study of lexical aspect in isiNdebele, a Bantu language of South Africa, and our comparative with a related South African language, Sindebele. We describe some of the tests we used, and suggest general guidelines for developing and applying tests of lexical aspect within and across languages. We also describe and illustrate the semi-structured interview process we used, showing that hybrid elicitation/ethnographic discussions are helpful in developing and appropriately applying tests for lexical aspect.
  • De Bluts, Thomas (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Graph databases are an emerging technology enticing more and more software architects every day. The possibilities they offer to concretize data is incomparable to what other databases can do. They have proven their efficiency in certain domains such as social network architecture where relational data can be structured in a way that reflects reality better than what Relational Databases could provide. Their usage in linguistics has however been very limited, nearly inexistent, regardless of the countless times where linguists could make great use of a graph. This paper aims to demonstrate some of the use cases where graph databases could be of help to computational linguistics. For all these reasons, this thesis focuses on practical experiments where a Graph Database (in this case, Neo4j) is used to test its capabilities to serve linguistic data. The aim was to give a general starting point for further research on the topic. Two experiments are conducted, one with a continuous flow of relational textual data and one with a static corpus data based on the Universal Dependencies Treebanks. Queries are then performed against the database and the retrieval performances are evaluated. User-friendliness of the tools are also taken into account for the evaluation.
  • Blöndal, Thorunn (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This thesis is an exploration of two interactional processes, syntactic completion and other-extension. The aim of the study is to explore what if anything triggers the use of these phenomena, to scrutinise their form and their interactional function and how they are received in the dialogue. The notion of the conversational turn and how the concept relates to the two phenomena is also discussed in the study. The thesis is based on an empirical study carried out in the framework of interactional linguistics which rests upon conversation analysis (CA) but also draws upon mainstream linguistics and has a linguistic viewpoint. The empirical data consist of 20 hours of everyday conversation from the ISTAL corpus of spoken Icelandic, recorded in the year 2000. Both completions and other-extensions show collaborative actions, which appear in the relaxed settings as found in the ISTAL data. The data analysed in the thesis consist of 53 examples of completions and 73 instances of other-extensions. In the thesis, completions fall into two categories. When the first speaker seems to be in trouble, for example searching for a name, the second speaker joins in with a candidate completion; that is what is called induced completions. The other category includes non-induced completions where no discernible trouble triggers the second speaker s action. Other-extensions also fall mainly into two categories, Supportive Actions and Checking Understanding, which show differences regarding form and interactional functions. Both in completions and in other-extensions, the second speaker only goes as far as to the next Transition Relevance Place (TRP); the two processes are never attempts to take over the conversational floor. These collaborative actions are both received in a positive way in the conversations with a few exceptions. Finally, it is argued that the conversational turn is not necessarily a production of one person. Two (or more) participants in a dialogue can produce collaborative turn sequences, which are found in completions and in one of the two main categories of other-extensions, i.e. the category of Supportive Actions. In Supporting Actions the second speaker carries on with the action initiated by the first speaker, he speaks in the same direction as the first speaker, he takes place by his side . Either his extension highlights the first speaker s words or explicates them. In the category of Checking Understanding, a different action is carried out and therefore a new turn. The second speaker faces his partner in the conversation and he directs his words to the first speaker. In this category, some obscurity is often seen in the utterance preceding the extension and by reacting as the he does, the second speaker tries to avoid that a problem will come up later in the conversation. It is therefore the directionality that separates the categories of Supporting Actions and Checking Understanding when it comes to deciding whether the first speaker s utterance and the extension should be looked at as one collaborative turn sequence or as two separate turns. When two or more speakers share their turn, they also share the conversational floor and in these instances, we can talk about a collaborative floor. The appropriate surroundings for collaboratively producing a conversational turn and sharing the floor with the other participants are in friendly conversation with people who know each other s conversational behaviour. Keywords: Icelandic conversation, interactional linguistics, conversation analysis, completion, extension, collaborative production, collaborative turn sequence, joint production.