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    Spelling it Out: Accepting and Recontextualizing Traditional East Slavic Understandings of Nature and Maladies as Expressed in Zagovory from Polesia
    (2022) Shukla, Anatole
    In this thesis, I examine zagovory — East Slavic traditional oral magical healing incantations — pertaining to house sparrows, snake and snakebite, toothache, and epilepsy. I translated the zagovory from Polesskie zagovory, a 2003 tome of zagovory from Polesia from 1970-1990 compiled by A. Agapkina, E. E. Levkievskaia, and A.L. Toporkov, before analyzing their overarching motifs and structures. I found that while the traditional attitudes towards the four topics conveyed in the zagovory cannot contribute to existing scientific discourse, the zagovory are valuable as tools for understanding how East Slavic communities reliant on both traditional East Slavic folklore and Christian mythology commonly understand reality and onceinexplicable phenomena.
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    Keeping It Classy: Sinitic Classifiers and Their History in Literature
    (2022) Evans, Will; Huang, Shizhe
    The purpose of this study is to chart the history of nominal classifiers in Sinitic (Chinese) languages. The particular focus is the forms in which classifiers appear throughout the written record, and to aid this analysis data was gathered from a corpus of literary works spanning from the very earliest complete works of literature written in the 5th century BC to full-length vernacular novels written in the 18th century AD. The study finds that classifier phrases gradually began to overtake other methods of counting beginning around the 5th century AD, but oddly count phrases that do not utilize classifiers persisted in the literature at least as far as 1740 AD, which should not have been possible at least in the spoken language. Two solutions are presented to account for this co-occurrence of what should be complementarily distributed structures. The first being a prosodic solution, as detailed by Feng (2012), and the second being one that focuses instead on extra-linguistic aesthetic concerns that may have artificially preserved syntactic structures that were seen as more “literary” even though they were no longer found in the spoken language. Ultimately, the study is inconclusive as to which, if either, account is better suited to explain the discrepancies observed in the data, but the importance of considering extra-linguistic factors in particular is emphasized.
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    Debate on the Class Status of Mandarin Chinese Adjectives & Verbs: An Empirically-Based Evaluation + A Comparison of Stacking Behaviors
    (2022) Levy, Mariella; Huang, Shi-Zhe
    The question of whether Mandarin Chinese adjectives and verbs belong to the same word class or to separate ones is contested by linguists. I have conducted an empirically-based evaluation of the theories advanced by proponents of two competing hypotheses: a unified part of speech account (Hypothesis 1) and a separate part of speech one (Hypothesis 2). Hypothesis 1 supporter, Chen-Sheng Luther Liu (2010), proposes a theory that I critique as a theory in general. However, I am most interested in a particular piece of his data that demonstrates how the pro-form nàgè ‘that-GE’ substitutes for and co-reference gradable adjectives and verbs alike. This is crucial evidence that strengthens Hypothesis 1, but the usage of nàgè is limited (e.g., can only replace things with adversely negative meanings). Hypothesis 2 supporter, Waltraud Paul (2010), proposes that the marker of modification de is required for a prenominal verb because it forms a relative clause whereas it is optional for a prenominal adjective. Paul’s theory proves that absolute adjectives cannot form relative clauses and, unlike verb-noun constructions that ‘always’ form compounds, some adjective-noun constructions form phrases. However, the test she uses to prove that adjective-noun constructions form phrases is not reliable, as judged by some native Chinese speakers, and some verb phrase-noun constructions without de are indeed phrasal. Hypothesis 2 supporter, Shi-Zhe Huang (2006, 2015, 2017), proposes that simple adjectives are of semantic type e because anything functioning as an argument in a sentence is of this type (Chierchia 1998). Huang’s theory proves that, unlike verbs (type ), simple adjectives cannot function predicatively in their bare forms and it explains why prenominal verbs require de, while simple adjectives do not. Although she acknowledges instances where verbs phrases and adjectives are re-analyzed as type e and , respectively, she does not consider the ramifications of this data to a Hypothesis 2 stance. Following the evaluation, I have contributed to this debate by comparing adjective and verb-phrase stacking in Mandarin Chinese. I discovered that the number of differences between their behaviors in this syntactic construction is greater than their similarities, which supports Hypothesis 2 (e.g., prenominal adjective ordering without de is restricted (Sproat & Shih 1987:471) whereas ordering of predicate-positioned verb phrases is relatively free (Chao 1968:326)). However, I suggest that the ordering of adjective stacking may be freer in some cases based on the type of nominal that is modified (e.g., chǒu dà gēshǒu ‘ugly big singer’ & dà chǒu gēshǒu ‘big ugly singer (approved by native speaker, Carey Zhang)). More importantly, if prenominal verbs are proven to form verb phrases instead of relative clauses, then C.-T. James Huang (2016)’s evidence for the existence of an adjunct-complement dichotomy in the nominal domain identifies shared stacking behaviors among adjectives and verbs (e.g., the complement must be closest to the head noun in order to combine with it before the relative clause does (Huang 2016:434)), which supports Hypothesis 1.
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    Evaluating the Existence and Nature of the Critical Period Hypothesis in Second Language Acquisition
    (2022) Jayasankar, John M.; Chandlee, Jane
    This paper seeks to investigate the existence and nature of the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) in Second Language Acquisition (L2A). I conduct an extensive literature review into many studies spanning five decades into many domains of research. I advocate for multiple critical periods (CPs) for various aspects of language acquisition (morphology, syntax, phonology, phonotactics, grammar, semantics, pragmatics) each with their own unique discontinuity between ultimate attainment (UA) and age of acquisition (AoA). I expose gaps and highlight sources of debate within current literature such as the validity of (UA) as a yardstick for evaluating L2A proficiency, problematic statistical methodology for modeling the discontinuities in the AoA-UA function, language acquisition transfer interference from first language acquisition into L2A, individualistic traits such as language aptitude and motivation. I examine methodological differences in existing literature with a particular focus on incorrect assumptions and statistical techniques that lead to false conclusions being drawn about the shape of the age of acquisition (AoA) and ultimate attainment (UA) function, in testing for the CPH. Ultimately, I advocate for the re-analysis of past studies using different methodological techniques to generate new AoA-UA function graphs to discern if there are real discontinuities or not. I hypothesize that correct and repeatable statistical modeling and proper experimental design will facilitate the discovery of multiple CPs that occur in a robust sequential order with unique onsets, offsets, and discontinuities to each CP. I also hypothesize that individuals with common L1s and interlanguage systems share unique predictable CP onset and offsets that are robust within the group. This paper adds to the existing literature by first presenting an updated in-depth analysis of the current literature and proceeds to discuss how statistical errors in the existing literature may be contributing to the lack of robust evidence for multiple CPs in L2A.
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    Where does it mean? Case-Studies on the Epistemology of the Semantic-Pragmatic Divide
    (2022) Carvalho, João Pedro; Payne, Amanda
    Throughout most of the 20th century, Semantics and Pragmatics were understood to be related, but distinct fields of study. By the turn of the century, a substantial number of scholars put into question a strict division of the fields, arguing that context-dependency is fundamental for any theory of meaning in natural language. These scholars are called contextualists, and they stand in contrast to the minimalists that advocate for a strict division between Semantics and Pragmatics, affirming that most sentences in natural language can be assigned a meaning that is not context-dependent. In this thesis, I contextualize the debate, exploring common arguments in support of and against each theoretical framework, and defending contextualism. I also explore phenomena in Brazilian Portuguese that enlighten the ways in which pursuing a contextualist view of Semantics does not infringe on one’s ability to engage in practical analysis and modeling of meaning in natural language. Finally, I explore how psycholinguistic research can provide insights into how meaning in language is actually processed by speakers.