Tag Archives: Narrative/Discourse
6/28 Language and Aging

June 28, 2013
2347 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: Loraine Obler (loraine.obler@gmail.com) and Deborah Keller-Cohen (dkc@umich.edu)

Click here for Workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Click here for Workshop website.

Scholars taking different linguistic approaches to study language and aging rarely have an opportunity to talk with each other: those conducting studies of social interaction in aging, those studying social interaction in Alzheimer’s Disease and those conducting studies of language-task abilities that change with aging and/or Alzheimer’s Disease. This workshop brings together scholars who work in these areas to provide an introduction to work in language and aging and to raise unanswered questions. We will consider what language behavior in older adults looks like and how it is impacted by health, cognition and social relations. Methods of analyzing speech, approaches to data collection and implications for intervention will be included.

We will provide a general review of normative changes to language production that have been associated with aging. Interestingly some aspects of language use remain intact as we age while others –such as lexical retrieval and comprehension in non-ideal conditions –are more vulnerable. Asymmetries in language processing are considered in the domains of phonology, the lexicon and syntax.  How dual-task demands affect language production by young and older adults will also be included. In addition we take a look at evidence from bilingual older adults to refine our understanding of language as we age.

Of course changes in language behavior do not occur in isolation from other aspects of behavior such as cognition and health. We look at how the model of the Language in the Aging Brain Laboratory integrates health, brain, and cognitive factors to predict age-related changes in lexical retrieval and sentence processing. Education and hearing will be considered as factors that interact as well.

Language behavior occurs in social contexts so it is important to understand how social engagement and social relations more generally impact language use as we age. For example, beliefs held by others about older adults affect the way the non-old talk to them and how they interpret the speech of adults as they age; we also consider the impact of ageist speech styles on older adults’ language performance. Finally, the nature and complexity of older adults’ social networks as well as the frequency with which they interact with others will be examined since both play a role in maintaining language skills in older age.

A consideration of normal aging processes will be complemented by an examination of the nature of changes resulting from non-normal decline such as Mild-Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease and implications for interventions.


7/13-14 Workshop on Interfaces at the Left Periphery

July 13-14, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: Ed Cormany (esc53@cornell.edu) (primary), Sarah Courtney (sgc47@cornell.edu), Cara DiGirolamo (cmd279@cornell.edu)

Click here to see workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Since Rizzi’s (1997) original syntactic exploration of the sentential left periphery, the complexity of the domain at a clause’s edge has received attention from linguists studying syntax, semantics and prosody. However, study of the cross-linguistic variety in clause boundaries, clause typing, and the information-structural use of peripheral positions has only scratched the surface. This workshop seeks to bring together linguists working on the “left edge” of the sentence from a variety of theoretical backgrounds. We hope to facilitate dialogue between discourse theorists, semanticists, syntacticians, phonologists, and phoneticians to come to a better understanding of what is going on just above (syntactically) or just before (phonologically) the traditional IP domain. Topics that the workshop will cover include but are not limited to: clause typing, complementation, discourse constraints on argument structure, information structure, and word order change as they pertain to the left periphery, sentence-initial positions, and the CP domain.

We will solicit applications to fill three panels. Panels on any aspect of clause boundaries or the left periphery not covered in the invited panels — particularly sessions on prosodic and phonological interfaces — are welcome. Research on understudied languages or languages that have not traditionally been part of the left periphery literature are encouraged. Submissions from graduate students or recent Ph.D. recipients are especially welcome.  Full panel submissions, including presenters and a chairperson, will be accepted in early spring.
The organizers will invite speakers for another three panels, each of which address different aspects of the left periphery.

The first invited panel will center on clause types and the syntax/semantics/pragmatics interface at the left periphery. The panel will bring together researchers working on semantic interpretations at the highest level of the clause, focusing on questions, imperatives, and the distinction between matrix and subordinate clauses.

The second invited panel will focus on the discourse properties of the periphery. This panel will seek out research on the contextual and information-structural constraints on phrases that are displaced from their base positions into the left periphery, as well as research about peripheral discourse particles that perform clause-linking functions.

The third invited panel examines clause boundaries and peripheries from a diachronic perspective. The panel will present research dealing with the roles that information structure and leftward displacement of arguments play in word-order changes (e.g., the development and loss of V2 constructions).

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Ethnolinguistic Repertoires in American English

Elaine Chun – University of South Carolina
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course explores the relationship between the English language and ethnicity in the United States by merging anthropological understandings of race and ethnicity with sociolinguistic methods of description and analysis. In doing so, it introduces students to both traditional and current models of language and ethno-racial identity. Specifically, the course explores sociolinguistic assumptions that may equate “race/ethnicity” with “non-whiteness,” that overlook the inherent relationships between racial categories, and that treat race as isolatable dimension. It will also question conceptions of ethno-racial language as an objective set of features by considering how language is a sociocultural set of practices and resources that produce meanings, identities, and ideologies.

The course will introduce students to a range of ethnolectal models that have been traditionally adopted as well as the problems and politics inherent in them. In particular, it will explore sites across the United States that complicate traditional models, including communities in which groups defy easy categorization in a black-white racial paradigm, cases in which speakers use features associated with racial outgroups, and speakers who simultaneously index gendered, classed, and racialized meanings. The course will additionally emphasize the real-world relevance of studying language and race, namely be considering racist and anti-racist language practices in institutional and media contexts.

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Sociocultural Discourse Analysis

Barb Meek – University of Michigan
Susan Philips – University of Arizona
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:20 pm
2325 Mason Hall

See Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide training in discourse analysis that focuses on how culture is manifest in discourse practices.  Recordings of socially occurring speech render relatively ephemeral speech in a material and permanent form that gives it cultural reliability and repeatability not available in data collected through other anthropological/ethnographic research methods such as participant observation and note taking.  Topics include: 1) Research design.  When is recording useful, appropriate, and ethical; what kinds of activities will be recorded and how much material in hours will be recorded? 2) Transcription, translation and computer entry of recordings.  How to choose what to transcribe and how much to transcribe; in-field versus after-fieldwork transcription and translation; selection of transcription formats and software for coding data.  3) Analysis based on recordings, transcripts and coding of transcripts. Using the comparative method, identification of relevant units of interaction and their internal sequencing; comparison of multiple instances of the same units of interaction; comparison of multiple kinds of units of interaction and forms of talk; relating discourse analysis to other kinds of data concerning forms of local knowledge in order to make claims for sociocultural processes greater in scale than the discourse data.  4) Analysis of linguistic structures crucial to the interactional constitution of cultural processes, e.g. mood/modality; agency; evidentiality.  This will be a hands-on course involving analysis of data provided by the instructors.  This approach can serve scholars interested in how culture and language are mutually constituted through not only socially occurring speech, but also in interviews, in written records and in the media.  The planning and implementation of research in linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, sociolinguistics, and language change can be strengthened by greater knowledge of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of discourse analysis.

Some experience with linguistic analysis/description is preferred, but not required.

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