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Oksana Laleko

The paper examines the role of lexical, morphological, and discourse-referential factors in gender assignment with animate nouns in heritage Russian in order to explore the extent to which these different interfaces are challenging in heritage language acquisition. The analysis of concordant and discordant agreement patterns with nouns representing each type of gender categorization mechanism points to unequal difficulty associated with different types of gender allocation strategies. In particular, heritage speakers converge with baseline speakers in rating possible and impossible agreement combinations in the presence of fixed and transparent lexical and morphological gender categorization cues; however, they display non-target-like judgments of unmarked and underspecified forms characterized by variable agreement behavior (i.e., hybrid nouns and common gender nouns). Problems with forms whose gender reference is disambiguated at the level of discourse point to the syntax-discourse interface as a locus of systematic difficulty for heritage language speakers.

Wes Raykowski

The notion of levels can be found in many everyday expressions, such as top-level destination, entry-level sales, low-level panic, high risk level, basic-level research, high level of care, level of meaning, level of knowledge, level of freedom, and level of importance. I argue that these are metaphorical expressions in which the respective abstract concepts can be understood in terms of the more palpable experience of the levels to which we are accustomed through the handling of liquids. By looking at the interaction between SCALE and ITERATION image schemas, this article examines an embodied interpretation of levels, layers and water columns in the context of containers to facilitate a better understanding of these experiences and their use as a source domain for conceptual metaphors in language, science and mathematics. The conceptual analysis in this paper is limited to English expressions.

Jesse Stewart, Felicity Meakins, Cassandra Algy and Angelina Joshua

This study tests the effect of multilingualism and language contact on consonant perception. Here, we explore the emergence of phonological stratification using two alternative forced-choice (2afc) identification task experiments to test listener perception of stop voicing with contrasting minimal pairs modified along a 10-step continuum. We examine a unique language ecology consisting of three languages spoken in Northern Territory, Australia: Roper Kriol (an English-lexifier creole language), Gurindji (Pama-Nyungan), and Gurindji Kriol (a mixed language derived from Gurindji and Kriol). In addition, this study focuses on three distinct age groups: children (group i, 8>), preteens to middle-aged adults (group ii, 10–58), and older adults (group iii, 65+). Results reveal that both Kriol and Gurindji Kriol listeners in group ii contrast the labial series [p] and [b]. Contrarily, while alveolar [t] and velar [k] were consistently identifiable by the majority of participants (74%), their voiced counterparts ([d] and [g]) showed random response patterns by 61% of the participants. Responses to the voiced stimuli from the preteen-adult Kriol group were, however, significantly more consistent than in the Gurindji Kriol group, suggesting Kriol listeners may be further along in acquiring the voicing contrast. Significant results regarding listener exposure to Standard English in both language groups also suggests constant exposure to English maybe a catalyst for setting this change in motion. The more varied responses from the Gurindji, Kriol, and Gurindji Kriol listeners in groups ii and iii, who have little exposure to English, help support these findings.

Eitan Grossman

The present article takes a quantitative approach to investigating contact-induced change, using typological parameters established for the purposes of cross-linguistic comparison. Specifically, it examines the likelihood that a socio-politically dominant language, Greek (Indo-European), influenced the morphological structure of a socio-politically subordinate indigenous language, Coptic (Afroasiatic). Based on the high prefixing score of Coptic and the much lower prefixing score of Greek, it is concluded that it is highly unlikely that Greek had any significant or direct influence on the strong prefixing preference of Coptic.

Zygmunt Frajzyngier

The present article proposes a non-aprioristic approach to analyzing the domains of information structure and reference systems. The article is inspired by the papers in Information structuring of spoken language from a cross-linguistic perspective (Fernandez-Vest and Van Valin (eds.), 2016), and from my own research on languages for which only spoken data exist. As an outcome of this study it may turn out that ‘information structure’ and ‘reference system’ each constitute a distinct functional domain in some languages. The study addresses some of the most interesting findings in languages discussed in the volume, supplemented by my own findings on a variety of languages.

Robert Nicolaï

The issue of ‘language contact’ has been widely explored from the perspectives of empirical description and theoretical development, as well as from sociolinguistic, societal and cognitive angles. I would like to broach the subject from a different view, to deepen reflections of an epistemological and methodological order, building on my “distanced” (but empirically grounded) examination of language contact and semiotic dynamics (Nicolaï, 2011, 2017a, 2017b). Several notions will be further explored and specified here, such as: givens, constructs, historicity and WE . The goal is to structure research trajectories by highlighting both the relative relativity of our epistemic understanding and the extent of our subjectivity in context. On this basis, positions can be taken, most notably on the possible circularity of the hypotheses we posit. General learnings can be gleaned from these elements for grasping language contact, the dynamics driving their transformation, as well as general processes for ascribing meaning and developing significance, which in the end converge with current hermeneutic approaches and enactive views.