ResearchPad - dialectology https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Modeling competitive evolution of multiple languages]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7854 Increasing evidence demonstrates that in many places language coexistence has become ubiquitous and essential for supporting language and cultural diversity and associated with its financial and economic benefits. The competitive evolution among multiple languages determines the evolution outcome, either coexistence, or decline, or extinction. Here, we extend the Abrams-Strogatz model of language competition to multiple languages and then validate it by analyzing the behavioral transitions of language usage over the recent several decades in Singapore and Hong Kong. In each case, we estimate from data the model parameters that measure each language utility for its speakers and the strength of two biases, the majority preference for their language, and the minority aversion to it. The values of these two biases decide which language is the fastest growing in the competition and what would be the stable state of the system. We also study the system convergence time to stable states and discover the existence of tipping points with multiple attractors. Moreover, the critical slowdown of convergence to the stable fractions of language users appears near and peaks at the tipping points, signaling when the system approaches them. Our analysis furthers our understanding of evolution of various languages and the role of tipping points in behavioral transitions. These insights may help to protect languages from extinction and retain the language and cultural diversity.

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<![CDATA[Does Speaking Two Dialects in Daily Life Affect Executive Functions? An Event-Related Potential Study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db25ab0ee8fa60bd028b

Whether using two languages enhances executive functions is a matter of debate. Here, we take a novel perspective to examine the bilingual advantage hypothesis by comparing bi-dialect with mono-dialect speakers’ performance on a non-linguistic task that requires executive control. Two groups of native Chinese speakers, one speaking only the standard Chinese Mandarin and the other also speaking the Southern-Min dialect, which differs from the standard Chinese Mandarin primarily in phonology, performed a classic Flanker task. Behavioural results showed no difference between the two groups, but event-related potentials recorded simultaneously revealed a number of differences, including an earlier P2 effect in the bi-dialect as compared to the mono-dialect group, suggesting that the two groups engage different underlying neural processes. Despite differences in the early ERP component, no between-group differences in the magnitude of the Flanker effects, which is an index of conflict resolution, were observed in the N2 component. Therefore, these findings suggest that speaking two dialects of one language does not enhance executive functions. Implications of the current findings for the bilingual advantage hypothesis are discussed.

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<![CDATA[Does Grammatical Structure Accelerate Number Word Learning? Evidence from Learners of Dual and Non-Dual Dialects of Slovenian]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0aab0ee8fa60b774ed

How does linguistic structure affect children’s acquisition of early number word meanings? Previous studies have tested this question by comparing how children learning languages with different grammatical representations of number learn the meanings of labels for small numbers, like 1, 2, and 3. For example, children who acquire a language with singular-plural marking, like English, are faster to learn the word for 1 than children learning a language that lacks the singular-plural distinction, perhaps because the word for 1 is always used in singular contexts, highlighting its meaning. These studies are problematic, however, because reported differences in number word learning may be due to unmeasured cross-cultural differences rather than specific linguistic differences. To address this problem, we investigated number word learning in four groups of children from a single culture who spoke different dialects of the same language that differed chiefly with respect to how they grammatically mark number. We found that learning a dialect which features “dual” morphology (marking of pairs) accelerated children’s acquisition of the number word two relative to learning a “non-dual” dialect of the same language.

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<![CDATA[Crowdsourcing Dialect Characterization through Twitter]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da76ab0ee8fa60b96d3c

We perform a large-scale analysis of language diatopic variation using geotagged microblogging datasets. By collecting all Twitter messages written in Spanish over more than two years, we build a corpus from which a carefully selected list of concepts allows us to characterize Spanish varieties on a global scale. A cluster analysis proves the existence of well defined macroregions sharing common lexical properties. Remarkably enough, we find that Spanish language is split into two superdialects, namely, an urban speech used across major American and Spanish citites and a diverse form that encompasses rural areas and small towns. The latter can be further clustered into smaller varieties with a stronger regional character.

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<![CDATA[Quantitative Social Dialectology: Explaining Linguistic Variation Geographically and Socially]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daecab0ee8fa60bbfa53

In this study we examine linguistic variation and its dependence on both social and geographic factors. We follow dialectometry in applying a quantitative methodology and focusing on dialect distances, and social dialectology in the choice of factors we examine in building a model to predict word pronunciation distances from the standard Dutch language to 424 Dutch dialects. We combine linear mixed-effects regression modeling with generalized additive modeling to predict the pronunciation distance of 559 words. Although geographical position is the dominant predictor, several other factors emerged as significant. The model predicts a greater distance from the standard for smaller communities, for communities with a higher average age, for nouns (as contrasted with verbs and adjectives), for more frequent words, and for words with relatively many vowels. The impact of the demographic variables, however, varied from word to word. For a majority of words, larger, richer and younger communities are moving towards the standard. For a smaller minority of words, larger, richer and younger communities emerge as driving a change away from the standard. Similarly, the strength of the effects of word frequency and word category varied geographically. The peripheral areas of the Netherlands showed a greater distance from the standard for nouns (as opposed to verbs and adjectives) as well as for high-frequency words, compared to the more central areas. Our findings indicate that changes in pronunciation have been spreading (in particular for low-frequency words) from the Hollandic center of economic power to the peripheral areas of the country, meeting resistance that is stronger wherever, for well-documented historical reasons, the political influence of Holland was reduced. Our results are also consistent with the theory of lexical diffusion, in that distances from the Hollandic norm vary systematically and predictably on a word by word basis.

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<![CDATA[Diffusion of Lexical Change in Social Media]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da7bab0ee8fa60b9893d

Computer-mediated communication is driving fundamental changes in the nature of written language. We investigate these changes by statistical analysis of a dataset comprising 107 million Twitter messages (authored by 2.7 million unique user accounts). Using a latent vector autoregressive model to aggregate across thousands of words, we identify high-level patterns in diffusion of linguistic change over the United States. Our model is robust to unpredictable changes in Twitter's sampling rate, and provides a probabilistic characterization of the relationship of macro-scale linguistic influence to a set of demographic and geographic predictors. The results of this analysis offer support for prior arguments that focus on geographical proximity and population size. However, demographic similarity – especially with regard to race – plays an even more central role, as cities with similar racial demographics are far more likely to share linguistic influence. Rather than moving towards a single unified “netspeak” dialect, language evolution in computer-mediated communication reproduces existing fault lines in spoken American English.

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<![CDATA[PLoS Biology Issue Image | Vol. 15(10) October 2017]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5ab1686f463d7e570730a8e2

Crowd vocal learning induces vocal dialects in bats: Playback of conspecifics shapes fundamental frequency usage by pups

The spontaneous acquisition of speech by human infants (vocal learning) is considered a keystone of human language, but the ability to reproduce vocalizations acquired by hearing is not commonly described in other mammals. The recognition of vocal dialects among different populations can open a window on the vocal learning abilities of animals, but such findings in the wild may reflect genetic or ecological variations between groups rather than the learning of group-specific vocal behavior. This study by Prat et al. uses a playback-based lab experiment to induce vocal dialects in fruit bat pups; exposing groups of pups to different playbacks of conspecific calls allowed the authors to establish separate dialects, demonstrating the vocal learning skill of these bats. Furthermore, while songbirds, for instance, learn their songs directly from a specific tutor, the bats showed the ability to pick up vocal variations from the surrounding crowd, without direct interaction with any given tutor. The image shows a captive colony of Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) in their day-time sleeping cluster.

Image Credit: Michal Samuni-Blank

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<![CDATA[/l/ velarisation as a continuum]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c900d43d5eed0c48407e4c5

In this paper, we present a production study to explore the controversial question about /l/ velarisation. Measurements of first (F1), second (F2) and third (F3) formant frequencies and the slope of F2 were analysed to clarify the /l/ velarisation behaviour in European Portuguese (EP). The acoustic data were collected from ten EP speakers, producing trisyllabic words with paroxytone stress pattern, with the liquid consonant at the middle of the word in onset, complex onset and coda positions. Results suggested that /l/ is produced on a continuum in EP. The consistently low F2 indicates that /l/ is velarised in all syllable positions, but variation especially in F1 and F3 revealed that /l/ could be “more velarised” or “less velarised” dependent on syllable positions and vowel contexts. These findings suggest that it is important to consider different acoustic measures to better understand /l/ velarisation in EP.

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