Linguistics (Tri-College)

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 59
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    Towards Effective Machine Translation For A Low-Resource Agglutinative Language: Karachay-Balkar
    (2022) Rice, Enora; Washington, Jonathan; Grissom, Alvin
    Neural machine translation (NMT) is often heralded as the most effective approach to machine translation due to its success on language pairs with large parallel corpora. However, neural methods produce less than ideal results on low-resource languages when their performance is evaluated using accuracy metrics like the Bilingual Evaluation Understudy (BLEU) score. One alternative to NMT is rule-based machine translation (RBMT), but it too has drawbacks. Furthermore, little research has been done to compare the two approaches on criteria beyond their respective accuracies. This thesis evaluates RBMT and NMT systems holistically based on efficacy, ethicality, and utility to low-resource language communities. Using the language Karachay-Balkar as a case-study, the latter half of this thesis investigates how two free and open-source machine translation packages, Apertium (rule-based) and JoeyNMT (neural), might support community-driven machine translation development. While neither platform is found to be ideal, this thesis finds that the Apertium is more conducive to a community driven machine translation development process than JoeyNMT when evaluated on the criteria of efficiency, accessibility, ease of deployment, and interpretability.
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    Evaluating the Existence and Nature of the Critical Period Hypothesis in Second Language Acquisition
    (2022) Jayasankar, John; 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.
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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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    Does 'x' Mark The Spot?: Negotiating Filipino/a/x Identities Online in the Philippines and the Diaspora
    (2022) Benitez, Nuria Inez; Saleh, Zainab; Lillehaugen, Brook Danielle, 1976-
    This thesis studies the different contexts behind and understandings of the term "Filipinx", which is intended to be a gender-inclusive alternative to "Filipino" but is now a controversial topic that is largely divided along diasporic/homeland lines. In this paper I uncover underlying tensions between Filipino(/a/x)s from the Philippines and from the diaspora, which lie in the vastly different contexts and lived experiences that people from the diaspora and the homeland have, all attempting to fit under the same identity term/s. In particular, Filipino/a/x Americans (Fil-Ams), who grew up and live in the United States, tend to use and support the term "Filipinx", seeing it as empowering and a show of solidarity (or identification) with the LGBT+ community and other marginalized communities in the US. By contrast, people in the Philippines tend to consider "Filipino" to be already gender-neutral and see "Filipinx" as a way to further impose the Western binary—and thus see it as a form of colonization. Through an analysis of online Twitter conversations and two interviews, I tease out the various definitions and connotations of "Filipinx" and show that "Filipinx" indexes a specific (educated, activist) Fil-Am experience. I argue that the tensions that have risen around this word are due to the desire among Fil-Ams for a sense of belonging and identity that is being denied by those in the homeland, at odds with the resentment Filipinos from the Philippines feel towards those perceive to be more privileged than them and who are assumed to represent them, but end up doing so inaccurately (and, to some, in a colonizing way).