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You are here: Home / News & Events / CLS Speaker Series / Fall 2007 - Fall 2020 / Spring 2020

Spring 2020

January 17, 2020 - PIRE Undergraduate Presentations

- Madison Krieger - How gender based bias impacts language perceptions
- Sara Ostergren - Spanish-Palenquero Code-Switching 
- Gabrielle Herman - Language Identification in Lengua Palenquera and Spanish
- Natalie Wenger - Phonological differences between Spanish and Palenquero
- Jason Giovagnoli - Perceiving difficult L2 phonetic contrasts: a view from perceptual learning
- Rosa Padt - Vocabulary Consolidation in L2 Speakers
- Shane Cummings - Idiomatic Comprehension in the L2: Is Nativelike Speed Possible?
- Carly Danielson - The Influence of Speakers’ Physical Appearance on Listeners' Accented Speech Comprehension
- Sydney Harfenist - Syntactic Priming of Possessive Noun Phrases in Bilingual Children 

January 24, 2020 - PIRE Undergraduate Presentations

- Maura Jaeger & Dana Winthrop - Using developmental milestones to characterize language delay in preschool-age users of American Sign Language
- Alec Powers & Gabriella Rivera-Corchada - Cognate Facilitation and Syntactic Ambiguity in Bilingual Children
- Joana Pinzon-Coimbra, Julia Rembalsky, & Gloria Xu - English proficiency and the understanding/use of articles
- Kellie Harrington, David Miller, & Maggie Rose Pelella - The processing of Spanish dialectal variation by native Spanish speakers
- Emily Pifer - Creativity in two languages: Convergent and Divergent Thinking in Billingual Engineering Students
- Julian Yee - Comprehension of code-switched speech in non-habitual code-switchers: An electrophysiological study
- Carmen Gonzalez Recober - Comprehension of code-switched speech: Does code-switching experience play a role?

January 31, 2020 - Jamie Reilly

Title: The Psycho- and Neurolinguistics of Cursing in American English

Abstract: Cursing represents a powerful subset of natural language. Large individual differences exist in the propensity to curse, and pragmatic rules that govern cursing are largely unwritten. Many neurological disorders (e.g., aphasia, Tourette syndrome, traumatic brain injury) are characterized by excessive and/ or uncontrolled cursing. Yet, we have only a very limited understanding of how taboo words are represented in the human brain, and why cursing behaviors emerge in the context of focal brain pathologies. In this talk, I will cover recent research from our laboratory examining the psycholinguistics of cursing in American English. We will first discuss unique properties of cursing, followed by two experiments examining the structure of individual taboo words and the implicit rules that govern curse compounding (e.g., ass + hat = asshat). In a third experiment, I will present the results of a noninvasive brain stimulation experiment where we administered cathodal electrical stimulation to inhibit the right frontal lobe while neurotypical adults cursed. This experiment will lay the groundwork for a novel treatment approach aimed at reducing uncontrolled cursing in aphasia and traumatic brain injury. 

February 7, 2020 - Taomei Guo

Title: Language Control in Bilingual Speech Production

Abstract: With the development of globalization, more and more people begin to learn and use a second language. For bilinguals who juggle two languages in their mind, one of the most compelling findings in recent bilingual research is that both languages are activated in parallel during bilingual language production. Therefore, language control is recruited to detect and resolve cross-language conflicts. Previous studies have examined the cognitive and neural mechanisms of bilingual language control, but few of them have captured how different brain areas interact with each other. In the first part of her talk, Dr. Guo will present recent fMRI results on brain activation patterns of language control using multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA). The results showed that several brain regions including the dorsal prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area, and anterior cingulate cortex were associated with language control. She will then talk about modeled causal interactions of these brain areas using an extended unified structure equation model (euSEM)-based effective connectivity analysis, and how the neural network of language control adapts to different language contexts. In the second part of her talk, she will present some recent work on the relationship of domain-general cognitive control and language control in bilinguals' speech production.

February 14, 2020 - Lauren Covey

Title: Individual Differences in the Processing of Wh-dependencies: an ERP Investigation of Native Speakers and L2 Learners 

Abstract: This talk highlights the processing of wh-dependencies by native English speakers and Mandarin Chinese-speaking learners of English. Wh-dependencies involve a long-distance relationship between a fronted wh-word (e.g., who) and the position in the sentence where it originated, called a gap site. The examination of wh-dependency resolution presents an interesting test case for whether or not grammatical knowledge is used online, because in languages such as English, wh-movement is constrained such that extraction is only possible from certain positions and is barred from other positions, called islands (Ross, 1967). In examining whether native speakers and second language (L2) learners are sensitive to island constraints online, this study tests predictions of prominent theories in SLA which argue that adult learners are unable to utilize abstract grammatical information during processing (e.g., Clahsen & Felser, 2006).

February 21, 2020 - Isabel Deibel

Title: Language Representations in the Presence of a Lexical-Functional Split: An Experimental Approach Targeting the Quichua-Media Lengua-Spanish Interface

Abstract: Mixed languages like Media Lengua incorporate grammar from one source language (here, Quichua) but lexicon from another (here, Spanish). Due to their linguistic profile, they provide a unique window into bilingual language usage and language representation. Drawing on sociolinguistic, structural, and psycholinguistic perspectives, this talk discusses syntactic processes in Media Lengua on the basis of word order variation in order to gain a deeper understanding of the representations of grammar and lexicon in the bilingual mind.

In particular, Deibel investigates whether Media Lengua’s syntactic processes have been impacted by Spanish, the language that supplies Media Lengua’s lexical items. Data from a corpus, from within and between-language structural priming and from a language switching task suggest that Media Lengua is robustly framed by Quichua morphosyntax. The corpus analysis revealed that different word order patterns correspond to discourse-related factors such as persistence of the object referent and its animacy rather than factors directly related to language contact with Spanish. The structural priming analysis showed that, even when participants have the chance to repeat a prime practically verbatim, it was only the inclusion of the primed Spanish verb in responses that significantly led to the incorporation of primed Spanish word order; in all other cases, participants default to the Quichua patrimonial word order. Lastly, data from a language switching task provided evidence that Media Lengua and Quichua employ identical morphosyntactic frames while the co-activation of (head-final) Media Lengua and (head-initial) Spanish morphosyntactic frames led to competition and increased language switching costs.

In sum, the results establish Media Lengua as a separate language with clearly defined and robust structural and lexical characteristics and suggest that Media Lengua’s lexical items are not identical to their Spanish cognate counterparts—a finding that challenges the widely held view that contact-induced languages are likely to show effects of convergence with the European language that provided their lexical material. These considerations refine our theories of how languages interact and are represented in the minds of bilinguals, particularly in the presence of large numbers of form-similar lexical items.

February 28, 2020 - Kelly Coburn

Title: Development of Neural Structure and Function in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Implications for Learning Language

Abstract: Neurodevelopmental processes that continue throughout childhood typically lead to spoken language. Improved models of language in the brain can help us to understand typical development, as well as the disruptions to language that occur in developmental conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions, currently estimated to affect 1 in 59 American children (CDC, 2018). Typical post-natal brain development will be discussed in relation to the known neurodevelopmental differences that occur in ASD. Evidence from structural and functional MRI, DTI, MEG, and EEG will be summarized. Structural differences include altered patterns of cortical growth and myelination. Functional differences occur at all levels of the brain, from lateralization of functions in the cortex to the rhythmic activations of single neurons. Neuronal oscillations, in particular, could help explain disrupted language development by elucidating the timing differences in autistic brains that contribute to reduced functional connectivity, complex information processing, and speech parsing. Findings related to implicit statistical learning, explicit learning of behavioral tasks, multisensory integration, and reinforcement in ASD will also be discussed. Implications of known neural differences can be extended to language instruction and clinical intervention for autistic children at early stages of language learning, and recommendations will be offered.

March 6, 2020 - Amanda Eads

Title: An Articulatory Investigation of Arabic Emphatics and Gutturals Using Ultrasound

Abstract: study investigates the articulation of Arabic emphatics and gutturals among fifteen second language students, five heritage students, and five native Lebanese Arabic speakers. The second language and heritage students were enrolled in various levels of Arabic instruction at a major university in the American South. The motivation for this study stems from two key issues: the small amount of literature discussing phonological acquisition of Arabic among adult second language learners and the need for more technical articulatory feedback to address students’ pronunciation errors (Ryding 2013). Many of the student participants struggle with the Arabic emphatic and guttural phones. For several participants these sounds were extremely challenging, and participants were not able to differentiate between their articulations of these phones. This coincides with Odisho’s claim (2005) that Arabic emphatics and gutturals are most difficult for beginning English L1 students because these are unfamiliar sounds. There are three categories of Arabic gutturals: glottals, pharyngeals, and uvulars, as discussed by Al Solami (2013). Arabic has four emphatics that add a secondary articulation to /s d t ð/. However, there is debate concerning whether the articulation of gutturals and the secondary articulation of emphatics involves the retraction of the tongue body or the tongue root (Ali and Daniloff 1972, Ghazeli 1977, Al Solami 2017). Therefore, this ultrasound study provides a detailed analysis concerning how L2 Arabic students are articulating these phones, at what level students are typically able to differentiate their articulation of the target phones, and in what order this occurs. Furthermore, examining native Arabic speakers compared to the literature and the student participants, contributes to the literature debate and provides insight into the student participants' articulatory struggles.