Linguistics Department

Undergraduate Research Day

Mon, April 24, 2017 | CLA 1.302B

3:00 PM - 6:30 PM

The Department of Linguistics is pleased to announce that we will host a Linguistics Undergraduate Research Day on Monday, April 24th from 3:00 – 6:30pm in the Glickman Conference Center.  The event is designed to highlight and celebrate the excellent research being done by undergraduate students in the department.  To help us make sure we have enough food for everyone, please let us know you’ll be attending here.

3:00pm Ÿ Invited Speaker presentation (CLA 1.302B) -

  • Nicole Wicha (UTSA):  "What Scalp Electrophysiology Can Tell Us About the Underlying Neural Mechanisms for Language Comprehension”

In this talk I will discuss some of our recent research, including published research conducted by undergraduate students in my lab, aimed at understanding the electrophysiological correlates of language comprehension.  I will discuss a series of studies that address a variety of research topics, including prediction and integration of words in a sentence context, lexical access in the bilingual brain, and integrating code switched words presented in bilingual sentences and stories.  What these studies have in common is the use of the event related potentials technique, which allows us to uncover the timing and type of brain activity that support language comprehension.  Together these studies help refine our understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms for language comprehension. 

3:45pm Ÿ Undergraduate Poster Session (CLA 1.302D)

  • Laura Nagy: “The Effects of Listener-Oriented Speaking Styles and Semantic Context on Young Children’s Online Word Recognition”  
  • Christian Barthlow, Kathryn G. Whitley, and Marcus Martinez: "Examining ASL and English Pronominal Systems within Simultaneous Interpretation"
  • Roxanne J. Zech and Marcus Martinez:  "Surveying Education Programs about Linguistic Curricula: Maximizing Response Rates"
  • Joyce McCormick: "Nasal-Oral Contour Segments in Nadahup Languages from a Diachronic Perspective"
  • Lauren Wagner, Rebecca Law, Emily Frazier, Nikki Grant, Kelly Hall, Ashley Aguirre, and Sunkulp Ananthanarayan:  "From Documentation to Community Resources: Developing Pedagogical Materials for Naduhup Languages in Northwestern Brazil"
  • Maria Gavino:  "Auditory Free Classification of Early and Late Spanish-English Bilinguals."
  • Irene Smith, Jailyn Pena, and Hannah Ray:  "Effects of Speech Clarity on Sentence Recognition Memory for Native and Non-native Listeners."
  • Rui Akaike:  "Documenting Ixil Mayan: The process of digital language archiving"
  • Christina Bosley:  "Toward a Mayan Archaeological Database: a Contextual Tool for Interpreting Hieroglyphics,

4:45pm Ÿ Undergraduate Research Presentations (CLA 1.302B)

  • Elise LeBovidge: “Two Types of States:   A Cross-linguistic Study of Change-of-State Verb Roots”

Event structural theories (e.g. Dowty 1979) assume verb meanings decompose into an event tem- plate defining the event’s broad temporal contours and an idiosyncratic root filling in real world details for a given verb. On syntactic implementations (e.g. Harley 2012) a change of state (COS) verb consists of a state-denoting morphological root and a v introducing BECOME entailments:

(1) a. The road reddened/cracked.

b. [vP The ground [v′ vbecome √red/√cracked ] ]


A widespread assumption is that templatic entailments such as change are only introduced by func- tional heads, never roots (cf. Embick’s 2009 “Bifurcation Thesis”). We argue against Bifurcation by comparing the roots of Levin’s (1993) breaking and cooking COS verbs (among others; “crack roots”) and deadjectival COS verbs (“red roots”). We claim the former entail change, with con- comitant grammatical effects.

First, under Bifurcation all COS event structures are built around a stative root that should, in principle, also form a simple stative term (e.g. simple adjective; Embick 2004). Thus, English has the simple adjective red, verbal redden, and deverbal adjective reddened, a paradigm expected of all roots, modulo lexical idiosyncrasy. We are collecting paradigms for 53 red roots (Dixon’s dimen- sion, value, color, physical property, speed, human propensity, and age classes) and 42 crack roots (Levin’s entity specific change, cooking, calibrated change, bending, breaking, directed motion, killing, and destroying classes) in the 85 WALS-100 languages for which we have dictionaries. Preliminary data for 41 languages suggest a striking difference: while red roots overwhelmingly have simple statives, crack roots lack them (e.g. English has deverbal cracked but no simple adjec- tive), a statistically significant result both on a t-test on the proportion of simple statives for red vs. cracked roots (p < 0.001) and on a one-way ANOVA across all subclasses (p < 0.001).

Additionally, a semantic judgment study of three unrelated languages from our sample (English, Kinyarwanda, and Kakataibo) further supports distinguishing red and crack roots. Under Bifurca- tion, a COS verb root appearing without vbecome should not entail change. Stative predicate adjective templates do not require vbecome (Embick 2004), yet while simple adjectives from English red roots do not entail change, adjectives from crack roots are superficially deverbal and categorically do en- tail change (even derived stative uses like the road is widened ahead a` la Koontz-Garboden 2010, which we also argue in this talk entail change, albeit along a non-temporal dimension). These roots therefore pattern as deverbal red adjectives:

(2) a. The dirt is red, but never reddened.
b. #The glass is cracked/reddened, but never cracked/reddened.

We also give again-modification data (Dowty 1979) that supports this point. All three languages show the same patterns.

Thus, crack roots lack simple statives and always give rise to change entailments. Contra Bi- furcation, we propose that crack roots must therefore themselves entail change, unlike red roots, explaining (2). Furthermore, stativizing heads in the presence of change entailments are often in- dependently overtly marked crosslinguistically (e.g. in deverbal adjectives), explaining the mor- phological contrast. The existence of this root distinction has functional origins: certain real world states only result from events, while others do not. Thus violations of Bifurcation are expected on conceptual grounds. 

  • Joyce McCormick:  “Nasal-Oral Contour Segments in Nadahup Languages from a Diachronic Perspective”

The Amazon Basin is a region rich with language diversity. However, much of that diversity has not yet been explored by linguists. This paper focuses on nasal-oral contour segments found in languages of this region, specifically in the languages of the Nadahup family. These remarkable sounds juxtapose an oral and a nasal component, as can be seen in the word[tegn] ‘tree’. Although there has been some research into these contour segments as they appear synchronically, there has been a lack of in-depth work on this subject from a diachronic perspective. Through the analysis of cognate sets and sound reconstruction in the Nadahup language family, we investigate how nasal-contour segments can emerge and evolve over time.

5:30pm Ÿ Undergraduate Research Dinner (CLA 1.302B)

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