Fall 2007

"Major Linguistic Features of American Sign Language (ASL)." Kim Diez, Miami Dade College. November 14, 2007.

This talk explores the various linguistic features of ASL, including phonology, morphology, and syntax, with special emphasis on the major sentence types and the accompanying non-manual grammatical features that are required to convey appropriate meaning.

“Psycholinguistic Techniques and the Study of Language Development and Processing." Dr. Ana Gouvêa, Florida International University, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. October 24, 2007.

Psycholinguistic research has been trying to combine theoretical linguistics with experimental data to understand how language is represented and processed in the brain. This lecture discusses two experiments that used different psycholinguistics techniques to study language development and processing. The first experiment examined infants’ morphosyntactic comprehension abilities using the Head-turn preference procedure. The second used Electroencephalography (EEG) to study adult sentence comprehension.

"Factors Influencing the Production of English Aspirated Stops." Mehmet Yavas, Florida International University, Linguistics Program, Department of English. October 10, 2007.

In the production of English aspirated stops, two factors – the place of articulation of the stop, and the height of the following vowel – have been cited as important determinants regarding the amount of aspiration. This lecture explores the influence of these two variables in bilingual and interlanguage productions.

Spring 2007

The Contribution of Current Linguistics to a Psychology of Language Use”. Dr. Daniel C. O’Connell, Georgetown University. January 23, 2007

he perennial bias of modern linguistics has been toward written language to the neglect of spontaneous spoken discourse. The model of well-formed sentences derived from that bias has strongly influenced both developmental and general psycholinguistics. However, since preschool children learn language in a different system from that of the well-form syntax of linguistics, the application of well-formedness in spontaneous spoken discourse also needs discussion. By bringing evidence from instances of spontaneous spoken discourse such as interjection (wow), fillers (um, uh) and laughter, the lecture argues that spontaneous spoken discourse is not disorderly and the order to be found therein is simply different.

"The Mythical History of the English Language". Graeme Davis, Open University, UK. March 13, 2007

The story of the history of the English language has been told many times and has passed out of the academic ivory tower into the mainstream. Yet these survey histories all perpetuate errors which specialists in each sub-area know to be errors, and it is time to reassess the history of the English language.

The neat family-tree model of the descent of English from Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European is a gross simplification. In fact it is doubtful whether a single Proto-Germanic language ever existed, and likely that there was no single Proto-Indo-European. The impact of Old Norse has been understated, and the impact of Norman French misunderstood. The transition from Anglo-Saxon to Middle English is not a modification of a language through contact with others, but a process of creolisation. The codification of English in England is an important strand of the development of English. But it is easy to overstate – what we now call “World Englishes” have been developing for centuries. The present dominance of English was largely unpredicted by linguists. With hindsight we can explain this dominance within the concept of Language Ecology, where English is in top position.