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Where does the modality of Ancient Greek modal verbs come from?

The relation between modality and oblique case marking

Serena Danesi, Johnson and Jóhanna Barðdal


Modality can be expressed through a variety of different linguistic means within and across languages, of which one manifestation is through noncanonical case marking of the subject. In Ancient Greek several predicates show a systematic alternation between constructions with nominative and oblique subjects, which coincides with a difference in meaning, yielding a modal meaning in the latter case. We show how this modal meaning cannot be derived from the meaning of the individual parts of the construction, neither from the lexical material nor from the relevant grammatical elements. Instead, the data call for a constructional analysis of a modal subconstruction of the oblique subject construction, for which the modality must be attributed to the construction itself. We argue that this can be viewed through the lens of subjectification in the sense of Traugott (2003), here demonstrating that the semantic relation holding between the subject referent and the oblique case marking selected by the verb has been extended to the empathic relation holding between the speaker and his/her attitude towards the proposition uttered (Barðdal 2004). This, we believe, is how the concept of modality came to be associated with oblique case marking of subjects.

Joshua R. Brown and Benjamin Carpenter

Wisconsin has a long history of heritage language use, which continues to the present. Latinos, Hmong, and Somalis are groups, which now call Wisconsin home. As new generations of American-born individuals emerge, more removed from immigrant culture, the vitality of the language as a heritage language may weaken. This study examines the vitality of Somali as a heritage language in Barron, Wisconsin. It investigates the negotiation of identities in the context of heritage Somali in the rural Upper Midwest.

Hyoun-A Joo, Lara Schwarz and B. Richard Page

This study explores the bilingual phonology of two heritage speakers of Moundridge Schweitzer German (msg) from Moundridge, Kansas. The speakers are descendants of Mennonite speakers of German who settled in the area around Moundridge, Kansas, in the 1870s. The production of Moundridge Schweitzer German /a/ and /ɔ/ and American English /a/ and /ɔ/ were compared and no evidence of phonological or phonetic convergence was found. For one speaker, there was evidence that phonetic realizations of /a/ and /ɔ/ in the two languages were diverging with a merger or a near merger of the two vowels in the heritage variety of German but not in English.

Rocío Raña-Risso and Carolina Barrera-Tobón

This paper reports on a variationist sociolinguistic analysis of the relationship between subject placement and overt pronoun rates in the Spanish of first- and second-generation Spanish-English bilinguals in New York City. The data used for the study come from a spoken corpus of Spanish in New York based on 140 sociolinguistic interviews. We show second-generation speakers exhibit a more rigid word order compared to their newly arrived first-generation peers, more often preferring subjects in the preverbal position, and we explain that this increase in word order rigidity among our second-generation can be attributed, in large part, to their increased use of and contact with English. We further posit that the difference in subject placement across generations can be explained by the different context of acquisition since the Spanish that these second-generation speakers are exposed to contains both a higher rate of overt pronouns and a higher rate of preverbal subjects.

Karoline Kühl and Elizabeth Peterson

This article first presents an overview of the social and demographic phenomena specific to the language shift situation in Sanpete County, Utah, focusing on the biggest non-English-speaking group, the Danes. This overview includes the assimilation norms that were present in the community (including from the dominant religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), social and geographical isolation, and related issues of identity and language maintenance. Using interdisciplinary methods under the rubric of sociocultural linguistic research, our analysis presents an overview of the state of Danish in today’s Sanpete County, then further divides the Danish linguistic elements into two main categories: overt and covert. The analysis of these items makes use of the notion of postvernacular language use, as well as highlighting the female and domestic-related networks of transmission. This study of the Danish-language situation in Sanpete County offers a glimpse of the final stages of complete language shift, revealing information about a rare and under-examined linguistic community within the American context.

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.