MacKenzie at Langwidge Sandwidge

Posted on March 13, 2013 by


LEL’s Laurel MacKenzie will be presenting at Langwidge Sandwidge this week on “Size matters: the effect of subject length on auxiliary contraction”.

Here’s the abstract:

English auxiliary contraction (e.g., John is ~ John’s here) is a frequent and conspicuous instance of linguistic variation. Though a number of conditions on its occurrence were first identified decades ago (Labov, 1969), there is still more to be discovered, as only recently have large-scale corpora allowed us to get a detailed picture of this variable. In this talk, I demonstrate that the ‘size’ of an auxiliary’s subject, as measured in multiple dimensions, is a strong predictor of whether contraction occurs. I compare syntactic, phonological, and phonetic measures of subject size against a measure of number of orthographic words in order to evaluate which method of operationalising size best captures the variation. I also discuss the implications of the subject size effect for the representation of the contraction process in speakers’ grammars.

The talk will be in the usual time at the usual place (Tuesday 19th March, 1pm, Sam Alex A214). Join us for the last Langwidge Sandwidge before Easter!