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Honors Theses (Linguistics)

The Honors Thesis is a piece of original research written by undergraduate students with the guidance of a faculty member over the final two semesters of the student's program.
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  1. The Status of Voiceless Nasals in Ikema Ryukyuan [Download]

    Title: The Status of Voiceless Nasals in Ikema Ryukyuan
    Creator: Catherine Ford
    Description: Human production and perception of language, although studied for decades, is largely misunderstood. Furthermore, not all sounds in human language have been studied extensively. Typologically rare sounds arguably lack reliable documentation and research. One such sound is voiceless nasals. Debate as to the degree of voicelessness, method of articulation and general perceptibility abound concerning the extant careful speech based research (Bhaskararao & Ladefoged, 1991, Ohala & Ohala 1993). The current study evaluates the acoustic qualities of voiceless nasals in Ikema, a dialect of the Ryukyuan language Miyako spoken on Japanese islands near Taiwan. Data collected from elicitation sessions was analyzed for Ikema’s phonemic nasals /n̥, m̥ , n, m/. Speech data consisted of minimal pairs produced in spontaneous sentences chosen by the speakers, maximizing natural language quality. Target sounds were segmented in Praat and analyzed for voiced and voiceless nasal portions. Initial analysis revealed voicing throughout the target sounds when found word or phrase medially, or word or phrase finally, leading to analysis of breathy voicing state quality using cepstral peak prominence (CPP). The segments were compared to voiceless nasals and modal nasals found in the language. Analysis revealed significantly higher CPP for target voiced sounds than modal sounds, suggesting an allophonic relationship between voiceless nasals and breathy nasals in Ikema. Detailed knowledge of voiceless nasal articulation in natural speech will help create a more accurate understanding of Ikema’s sound system, extending to our knowledge of Miyako and its relative Japanese. This research may also illustrate variable articulations of voiceless nasals, contributing to our efforts to describe human phonetics as a whole.
    Subjects: linguistics, phonetics, voiceless nasals, Ikema, Ryukyuan, endangered language, documentation
    Date Created: 2016/05/01
  2. Evaluating nêhiyawêtân: A computer assisted language learning (CALL) application for Plains Cree [Download]

    Title: Evaluating nêhiyawêtân: A computer assisted language learning (CALL) application for Plains Cree
    Creator: Bontogon, Megan A.
    Description: nêhiyawêtân, a computer assisted language learning (CALL) application for Plains Cree was evaluated. User reactions and behaviours were analysed using heuristic and co-operative evaluation methods. Feedback of heritage learners and other university students on the user interface were compared. This feedback helped to create an updated version of nêhiyawêtân by adding features that allowed for more diverse user strategy to allow the program to assist learners in a university or community setting. The findings serve as a guideline for evaluating and creating CALL programs for other Canadian indigenous languages (CILs).
    Subjects: CALL, Qualitative Methods, Plains Cree, Language Pedagogy, User Evaluation, Heritage Learners
    Date Created: 2016
  3. Contextual Associations of Thinking Verbs: A Corpus-Based Investigation of English [Download]

    Title: Contextual Associations of Thinking Verbs: A Corpus-Based Investigation of English
    Creator: Lau, Mildred
    Description: In this study, the linguistic contexts of the English verb THINK and its near-synonyms CONSIDER, REFLECT, and PONDER will be investigated from a corpus linguistic perspective in order to determine what, if any, contextual factors are preferentially associated with the usage of each verb. Underlying this approach is Harris’ (1954) distributional hypothesis that words with similar contexts have similar meanings, and its corollary that differences in contexts suggest differences in meaning. The near-synonyms are selected on the basis of their frequency in the British National Corpus and their dictionary meaning overlap within words expressing the activity of thinking. Data extracted from the British National Corpus is annotated for morphological, syntactic, and semantic factors following the behavioural profiling principles compiled by Divjak & Gries (2006), and a statistical analysis, following Arppe (2008), is performed on the annotated information to reveal the contextual associations of the verbs. These results are used to construct semantic characterizations of the four verbs and the characterizations are then compared crosslinguistically to a selection of verbs meaning think in Finnish, which have been previously studied by Arppe (2008). More generally, the results provide evidence that statistical methods can be used to better understand in what ways a semantic field like thinking is lexically divided similarly or differently across languages.
    Subjects: Synonymy, Quantitative Methods, Lexical Semantics, Uni variate Analysis, Contextual Associations, Finnish, British National Corpus, English, Distributional Hypothesis, Corpus Linguistics
    Date Created: 2013/04/16