LinguistMix with Schultze-Berndt and Kim

Posted on October 13, 2014 by

This Thursday (16th Oct), 17.30-19.30, in University Place 6.207, the famed LinguistMix returns!

In case you haven’t heard about it, LinguistMix is a student-run event (usually fortnightly) running throughout both semesters. We have two 20-minute talks with a break for refreshments and a chance for staff and students to mix – hence ‘LinguistMix’. Talks are given by our own LEL staff, speakers from other departments and also external speakers, but all talks are focused on language. The speakers and the topics this week are:

Eva Schultze-Berndt: An inclusive pronoun as intersubjective evidential: there it is in an Australian language (as you and I can see)

In this talk, I report on a phenomenon encountered during long-term fieldwork-based research on Jaminjung, an Australian language of the Mirndi family, and not – to my knowledge – reported for any other language. This is the use of a clitic corresponding to first person dual inclusive pronoun (‘you & me’) as an intersubjective evidential. It is an evidential in that it indicates the source of evidence for a proposition. It is intersubjective in that it is only used when both speaker and addressee(s) have direct and simultaneous access to the event described by the proposition – usually a new or surprising event in the discourse context, as in (1). This function is thus in line with the pronominal origin of the marker.

(1) janyungbari yina motika jid ga-ram=mindi
another DEM car go.down 3sg-come.PRS=1&2
‘Another car is coming down there (as you and I can see)!’ (Context: Out-of-the-blue utterance; S observes a stranger’s car coming into view of S and H)

The intersubjective evidential contrasts with another marker which indicates that only the speaker has reliable evidence for the proposition at hand, and authority for expressing it. However, marking of evidentiality is not obligatory in Jaminjung.

While the particular semantic and formal correlates of evidential marking in Jaminjung appear to be rare or even unique, this research contributes to recent cross-linguistic research about the interpersonal nature of evidentials and other epistemic markers.

Yuni Kim: Is Cora a tonal language?

So-called “tone languages” like Mandarin Chinese use pitch to differentiate words that have identical segments, the famous example being the four possible meanings of “ma” depending on what tone it is pronounced with. But when approaching a new and unstudied language for the first time, what fieldwork techniques can you use to establish whether or not it is a tonal language? For various reasons, this isn’t a question you can ask someone directly. Last year I worked on the Cora language (an indigenous Uto-Aztecan language of western Mexico) together with an anthropologist who had recorded some word lists during one of her visits to a Cora village, and our main question was whether the language had lexical tone. I’ll talk about how we went about this research, and play some clips from the language.

Advanced phonetics students can optionally read Yuni’s first draft of the resulting paper.​​

Everyone with an interest in language is welcome at LinguistMix! See also the Facebook event page.