Homework #1 Answer Key

1) Open Syllable Lengthening in West Germanic
The level of analysis is phonology since notions like stress and syllables are explicitly mentioned. Sound change over time is an historical approach; hence, historical linguistics is also dealt with in the article. The paper addresses issues in theoretical linguistics such as open syllable and compensatory lengthening.

2) How Children Constrain their Argument Structure Constructions
This article clearly deals with syntax and semantics as it discusses how children construct sentences based on the meaning of the verbs. The article also deals with their tendency to overgeneralize and how they acquire constraints on the application of their syntactic constructions later on, so psycholinguistics is involved.

3) The Canadian Shift in Montreal
The level of linguistic analysis is phonetics since short front vowels of Canadian English are discussed in the article. There are also historical and phonological approaches as the article attempts to show the change in sound system of Canadian English.

4) Patterns of late rising in New Zealand English: Intonational variation or intonational change?
Discussion on intonation in the article clearly shows that phonology is at issue here. Also, since the article seeks an answer to a question whether this shift is variation or change, historical linguistics is also involved.

5) Investigating syllabic structures and their variation in spontaneous French
Syllable structures and their variation are typically dealt with in phonology. Phonetics is also relevant since the article discusses what sounds tend to be deleted (liquid consonants, /v/, and a schwa) in certain positions of a syllable. The article touches upon computational linguistics using automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems as a linguistic tool to examine speech corpora.

6) Combining active and semi-supervised learning for spoken language understanding
Pragmatics is involved since it deals with understanding of intent of the user. Also, computer processing for labeling and analyzing data indicates that computational linguistics is also involved. Applied linguistics is also a related field (language learning).

7) Visual perception of contrastive focus in reiterant French speech
This article involves phonetics and phonology because it deals with how contrastive focus is conveyed by prosody via examining its articulatory and acoustic properties. Issues in psycholinguistics are also addressed (differences in our perception between normal and reiterant speech or between focus on each phrase (S, V or O) and broad focus).

8) Setting the stage: How speakers prepare listeners for the introduction of referents in dialogues and monologues
The article clearly deals with pragmatics since it discusses various reference strategies by which speakers set the stage mentally for characters in narratives and make them accessible to addressees. This is also theoretical linguistics because our communicative competence (our understanding of the discourse context) is examined.

9) Puns, relevance and appreciation in advertisements
Semantics must be involved when discussing puns, since a pun involves an ambiguous utterance in which there are at least two different meanings (e.g., 'beaming' = 'smiling' or 'beaming' = 'shining a flashlight'). However, the main focus of the article is on pragmatics, since it discusses the slogans with relation to their effectiveness at inducing consumers to be favorably disposed towards their product (the intended consequence of the message). This was a psycholinguistic study, since it contained a controlled study of people's mental reactions to linguistic input. It could also be considered as a sociolinguistic study, since the results pertain to how language is used in the social context of advertising.

10) The Southern Cariban Languages and the Cariban Family
In order to form cognate sets, it is necessary to have correspondances in sound and meaning. Therefore, both phonology and semantics are used. The main focus of the article is on regular sound correspondances. The purpose of the analysis is to determine how the different languages in the family are related to each other, and what their history is. Therefore it is historical linguistics.

11) Fronting of Nondirect Arguments and Adverbial Focus Marking on the Verb in Classical Yucatec
Since the discussion is about verbal inflection, this article clearly deals with morphology (it analyzes the different affixes that can attach to verb stems to form complete words). It also contains syntactic analysis, since it discusses the arguments that appear with the verbs. The main focus of this article is theoretical, since it is trying to determine the nature of a specific system in the language. It can also be considered descriptive linguistics, since the author gives a thorough account of many different constructions that can occur. The author is analyzing a dead language (Classical Yucatec), and compares it to other Mayan languages, so historical linguistics is also involved.

12) Serial Verb Constructions in Paraguayan Guarani
Serial verb constructions involve the collocation of two verbs to form a larger verb phrase (syntax) whose meaning depends on the specific verbal constituents (semantics). Guarani verbs take many affixes for agreement and derivation (morphology). This paper is mostly theoretical, since it analyzes these verbal constructions in order to determine more precisely the nature of a specific aspect of language. Its detailed description of these construction in a specific language also make it a descriptive work.

13) Muscular Activity in the Arm during Lexical Retrieval: Implications for Gesture-Speech Theories
In the task that was studied in this article, the subjects were asked to identify target words from definitions. These target words were divided into abstract and concrete words, which are semantic classifications. Since more gestures were used for concrete words, it is assumed that speakers are trying to used gestures to convey meaning on top of the words themselves (pragmatics). The approach could be considered psycholinguistics (lexical retrieval, a mental process), neurolinguistics (the effects of brain activity), or biological linguistics (in general, how language relates to our biological nature).

14) Infant Directed Speech in Natural Interaction--Norwegian Vowel Quantity and Quality
The level of analysis is mainly phonetics, since it measured the vowel duration and frequencies (both physical properties) of the vowels. Phonology is also important, since the category of long vowels (/a:/, /i:/, /u:/) is compared with short vowels (/a/, /i/, /u/). This article is about psycholinguistics, since it hypothesizes that differences in speech to infants may aid their mental response and help language acquisition. It could also be considered sociolingusitcs, since it noticed that mothers change their speech patterns based on whether they are speaking to adults or infants.

15) Representing Discourse Coherence: A Corpus-Based Study
The analysis in this article is about the structure of discourse and the flow of meaning from one sentnence to the next. This is pragmatics, since it studies how information is presented in relation to the message that the speaker / writer is trying to convey. (NB: This is not syntax, since it does not study the patterns of how words combine to from phrases.) This is an example of corpus lingusitics, since it involves a large database of lingusitic information. The method of analysis was computational, because there was an automated process of determining the dependencies between structures in the annotated database.

16) A Mathematical Model of Historical Semantics and the Grouping of Word-Meaning Concepts
This article determines the number of concepts represented by words (semantics). The method they used was computational, since they compiled a large database of words from dictionaries, and used a statistical process to compare them. The end of their introduction lists several applications they consider possible (p. 228): historical linguistics (how the meanings change over time), lexicography (how to make dictionaries), psycholinguistics / cognitive science (how information is stored in our minds).

17) Oates' theory of Reverse Speech: a critical examination The emphasis in Oates' theory of Reverse Speech on the revelation of otherwise unspoken thoughts, as well as the discussion of 'speech' and 'messages' leads me to think that the level of linguistic analysis is pragmatics. Syntax and semantics could also be involved. This article could fall into theoretical linguistics, but more likely, since it talks about unconscious responses to speech, it should fall under psycholinguistics.

18) Threatening revisited
This article considers the act of verbal threatening. Since it discusses the topic in terms of a speech act and speaker's 'intentions', the level of analysis is pragmatics. This article clearly could have implications for forensic linguistics since the author examines the ways in which a threat can be made, from a legal point of view.

19) Unification Grammars and Off-Line Parsability
The article discusses parsability, or analyzing the sentence based on its constituents, so the level of analysis is syntax. This article is clearly a computational linguistics paper, in that it is concerned with parsability and representations of grammar from a computational standpoint. The paper could also have implications for Mathematics and Theoretical Linguistics.

20) Impossible Words: A Reply to Kent Johnson
This article is talking about word structure and word meaning, therefore it employs both morphology and semantics. To the extent that it is talking about the role of words as constituents in sentence structure, it is also about syntax. It is aiming to add to a general theory of language (and is not using experimental data or description of some part of language) so it is part of theoretical linguistics. It also has implications for psycholinguistics, since a theory of language would be concerned with how children learn language.

21) Male and female voices activate distinct regions in the male brain
The level of linguistic analysis used in this article is phonetics. The experiment makes use of pitch-scaled male and female voices, and since pitch perception deals with the physical nature of sound, it falls under phonetics. Reference to the activated parts of the brain places this article in neurolinguistics, and could have implications for psycholingusitics as well (language in the mind and brain). This article has connections to neurobiology (regions of the brain that are activated in response to voices) as well as clinical applications.

22) The Neuroanatomical Basis of Understanding Sarcasm and Its Relationship to Social Cognition
This article claims to have found a neurobiological basis for understanding sarcasm, a pragmatic act of saying one thing when you really mean another. The level of linguistic analysis that would apply to sarcasm is pragmatics. This article deals more with the neurological and clinical data, including brain images, so I would include this in neurolinguistics or psycholinguistics.

23) Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin
This article, as it states in the abstract, uses computational methods derived from evolutionary biology to analyze linguistic data and to tackle a basic problem of historical linguistics. Clearly this article falls under historical linguistics, as well as computational or biological linguistics, since the experimental methods are taken from those fields. The authors use as data a list of cognate words, indicating levels of analysis in morphology and phonology as well as, to some degree, semantics.

24) Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Piraha
This article looks at various aspects of the language and culture of the Piraha of Brazil. It looks at terms for quantification (semantics), embedding (syntax), pronouns (morphology and syntax) and tense (morphology and syntax, and here especially, semantics). In that the article describes a language at multiple levels of analysis I consider it to be descriptive linguistics. It also has to do with typology in that it describes the structure of a particular language. It is anthropological in terms of its emphasis on culture and how it is related to language. It could have implications for psycholinguistics, in terms language acquisition, as well as for theoretical linguistics.

25) Wari Intentional State Constructions and the Theory of Phrase Structure
This article looks at a particular construction (Intentional State Construction) in a langauge and its implications for morphological and syntactic theory. The construction that is being described by the author falls somewhere between the traditional categories of words and phrases, therefore the levels of analysis include both morphology and syntax. This paper is of interest to theoretical lingusitics in that it reexamines some aspects of morphosyntactic theory. In that the article describes a language at multiple levels of analysis I consider it to be descriptive linguistics. It also has to do with typology in that it describes the structure of a particular language.

Some Common Mistakes
1) Be careful with the term "sociolinguistics". Just because a study deals with a specific group of people in a remote location does not mean it is a sociolinguistic study. In order to qualify as one, it would have to study how different groups in society (e.g. based on gender, age, ethnicity, etc.) use some aspect of language differently.

2) "Inflection" in #11 refers to verbal affixes. It does not refer to changes in tone or pitch, as many people thought. Some examples of inflection in English are 'want', 'want-s', 'want-ed'. These suffixes are inflections that are added to the verbal stem to change its meaning.

3) Question #15 discussed discourse structure, and was thus an analysis of pragmatics. It was not a syntactic analysis, since syntax is concerned with smaller units (putting together words to form sentences). A general definition of pragmatics is "the study of the aspects of meaning and language use that are dependent on the speaker, the addressee and other features of the context of utterance".