Last week, the University of Ottawa hosted the third Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change (DiPVaC) conference. In addition to some great talks, there was an opportunity for a little lab tourism. Here's MSU's Suzanne Evans Wagner (far right) at the famous University of Ottawa Sociolinguistics Lab, with its director, Shana Poplack (near right). On the far left are Nathalie Dion, the lab director, and Heike Pichler of Newcastle University. Heike is the originator of the DiPVaC conference and the chair of its steering committee.
We're pleased to welcome Marisa Brook, who will be a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Linguistics program in 2016-2017. Marisa joins us from the University of Toronto, where she is completing her dissertation,
Syntactic categories informing variationist analysis: The case of English copy-raising under the supervision of Sali Tagliamonte. Here's a photo from Sali's Twitter feed, showing Toronto students at the recent DiPVaC3 conference in Ottawa. Marisa is the second from the right.
August Jenkins was presented last month with the prestigious Richard Lee Featherstone Endowed Prize. You can read all about August and her prize in this MSU Today story published April 21. To recognize August's incredible achievement, she was included in the platform group at her bachelors degree commencement last week. Congratulations, August! And good luck with your PhD in clinical psychology at Penn State University later this year!
We were happy to meet Linguistics and Languages alumni at the first reunion event, held April 9 in Wells Hall. In the morning, Cara Feldscher, Ai Taniguchi, Patrick Kelly, Alicia Parrish, Ni La Le and the Socio Lab's own Chenchen Xu gave 5-minute "speed talks" on their current research projects. They brought considerable ingenuity to the task of conveying complex ideas in such a short time. Ai explained the semantics of exclamatives using the Red Riding Hood story (What big ears you have!); Patrick compared grammatical illusions to visual illusions like the infamous Internet Dress (blue and black or white and gold?!); and Chenchen showed how contracting syllables in Mandarin makes you sound like a cute girl.
In the afternoon, alums toured the Neurolinguistics Lab and the Sociolinguistics Lab. In the Socio Lab, alums put on headphones and took part in Bethany Dickerson's language attitudes survey, had their vowels measured and displayed, and played British English Potions Mad Libs from our summer Grandparents University session Harry Potter and the Secrets of British English. All in all, it was a great opportunity for us all to share what we do with a wider audience.
Congratulations to these prize-winners!
Congratulations to Xiaomei Wang, who will present her sociolinguistic study of language change in Tianjin, China at NACCL 28 (North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics) in May 2016 at Brigham Young University. Xiaomei has examined changes in tone sandhi patterns in the vernacular speech of Tianjin residents. She has conducted more than 60 sociolinguistic interviews and plans to conduct more this summer.
[Update 3/28/16: Xiaomei will also present this work at the International Association of Chinese Linguistics (IACL) in Beijing this summer!
Are you an alum of the MSU Linguistics and Languages department? Come to the April 9 Alumni Reunion event! This all-day Saturday event will include TED-style short talks by Linguistics graduate students in the morning, and tours of the linguistics labs (including the Sociolinguistics Lab) in the afternoon. We'll be doing some interactive stuff in the lab tour, possibly involving: plotting people's vowels in real time; getting people to give us linguistic judgments and/or language attitudes judgments; demonstrating our Grandparents University Harry Potter and the Secrets of British English session materials; sociolinguistic perception experiments, and more.
On the roster for the 5 minute talks:
Alex Mason, a current MA student who has been accepted into our PhD program. We're glad you're staying, Alex! Alex will take his MA exam this semester, and is already preparing a sociolinguistics comp paper on the status short-e in the Lansing area Northern Cities Shift. He is also collaborating with Gabriela Alfaraz on a language attitudes project.
Monica Nesbitt, who presented a paper at the Linguistic Society of America 2016 meeting. Ambisyllabic consonants are codas: evidence from a syllable tracking task (with Karthik Durvasula). Monica successfully defended this project as a phonology comp paper in December 2015.
Mingzhe Zheng, who brought his ongoing work on Chinese-American accommodation to the Northern Cities Shift to NWAV 44 as a poster. Mingzhe successfully defended this project as a sociolinguistics comp paper in December 2015. He is now ABD.
Madeline Shellgren, who presented a paper at NWAV 44, Individual differences in listener perceptions: personality or cognitive processing?. Maddie has been preparing this project for a sociolinguistics comp paper.
Chenchen Xu, who presented a paper at NWAV 44 on attitudes to syllable contraction in dialects of Mandarin across China. Chenchen is currently writing up this project for her sociolinguistics comp paper defense.
Matt Savage, Erin Pevan, Alex Mason, Monica Nesbitt and Suzanne Wagner, who have presented their work on the Northern Cities Shift in Greater Lansing at NWAV 44 and the American Dialect Society 2016 annual meeting. They were invited to contribute to the Penn Working Papers in Linguistics volume "Selected Proceedings from NWAV 44". This is a tough proceedings to get into, so we were honored to be chosen. Watch for our paper to appear online this fall.
Suzanne Wagner, who presented a joint paper with Robin Dodsworth (North Carolina State) on coding corpora for speaker socioeconomic status at the LSA Satellite Workshop on Preparing Your Corpus for Archival Storage. Suzanne was awarded tenure in July 2015 and is now Associate Professor of Linguistics.
There was just too much sociolinguistics (and phonology), so we've split up with the Phono Group this semester :( On the up side, this means that more students will get time to share their work and solicit ideas. The socio group is meeting on Tuesdays, 12:30-2:00pm in B-442 Wells. (Note, B-442 is not the lab -- it's got more seats, isn't usually as hot, and it has speakers). Everyone is welcome to join us. Bring your lunch if you like.
There will also be bi-weekly meetings of the general extender project group on Tuesdays, 2:00-3:30pm in B-401 Wells (the actual socio lab), starting Jan 19. We're a small group actively working on some re-analysis of existing data. Feel free to come and sit in on our discussions, and to get involved if you become interested.
The IHELP group is also meeting intermittently this semester as we write up our invited Penn Working Papers in Linguistics paper, and prepare for the final NSF report due in May this year.
The Socio Lab is currently running an online survey to gather people's reactions to a short speech excerpt. We distributed the link via the MSU Registrar's Office, so if you didn't receive this link, you're not currently in the demographic pool that we're looking for. This may change! Many thanks to the hundreds of students who have already completed the survey. Look back here at the end of the semester for some information on our results.
Who we are
We are faculty and students interested in language variation and change at Michigan State University in the departments of Linguistics & Languages, Romance & Classical Studies, Anthropology, Education and beyond.