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Volume 5, December

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Languages, Volume 5, Issue 1 (March 2020) – 9 articles

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Open AccessArticle
Headedness and the Lexicon: The Case of Verb-to-Noun Ratios
Languages 2020, 5(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010009 - 13 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This paper takes a well-known observation as its starting point, that is, languages vary with respect to headedness, with the standard head-initial and head-final types well attested. Is there a connection between headedness and the size of a lexical class? Although this question [...] Read more.
This paper takes a well-known observation as its starting point, that is, languages vary with respect to headedness, with the standard head-initial and head-final types well attested. Is there a connection between headedness and the size of a lexical class? Although this question seems quite straightforward, there are formidable methodological and theoretical challenges in addressing it. Building on initial results by several researchers, we refine our methodology and consider the proportion of nouns to simplex verbs (as opposed to light verb constructions) in a varied sample of 33 languages to evaluate the connection between headedness and the size of a lexical class. We demonstrate a robust correlation between this proportion and headedness. While the proportion of nouns in a lexicon is relatively stable, head-final/object-verb (OV)-type languages (e.g., Japanese or Hungarian) have a relatively small number of simplex verbs, whereas head-initial/verb-initial languages (e.g., Irish or Zapotec) have a considerably larger percentage of such verbs. The difference between the head-final and head-initial type is statistically significant. We, then, consider a subset of languages characterized as subject-verb-object (SVO) and show that this group is not uniform. Those SVO languages that have strong head-initial characteristics (as shown by the order of constituents in a set of phrases and word order alternations) are characterized by a relatively large proportion of lexical verbs. SVO languages that have strong head-final traits (e.g., Mandarin Chinese) pattern with head-final languages, and a small subset of SVO languages are genuinely in the middle (e.g., English, Russian). We offer a tentative explanation for this headedness asymmetry, couched in terms of informativity and parsing principles, and discuss additional evidence in support of our account. All told, the fewer simplex verbs in head-final/OV-type languages is an adaptation in response to their particular pattern of headedness. The object-verb/verb-object (OV/VO) difference with respect to noun/verb ratios also reveals itself in SVO languages; some languages, Chinese and Latin among them, show a strongly OV ratio, whereas others, such as Romance or Bantu, are VO-like in their noun/verb ratios. The proportion of nouns to verbs thus emerges as a new linguistic characteristic that is correlated with headedness. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Languages in 2019
Languages 2020, 5(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010008 - 01 Feb 2020
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Abstract
The editorial team greatly appreciates the reviewers who have dedicated their considerable time and expertise to the journal’s rigorous editorial process over the past 12 months, regardless of whether the papers are finally published or not [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Language Dominance Modulates the Perception of Spanish Approximants by Late Bilinguals Language Dominance Modulates the Perception of Spanish Approximants by Late Bilinguals
Languages 2020, 5(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010007 - 22 Jan 2020
Viewed by 230
Abstract
The ability to discriminate phonetically similar first language (L1) and second language (L2) sounds has significant consequences for achieving target-like proficiency in second-language learners. This study examines the L2 perception of Spanish approximants [β, δ, ɣ] in comparison with their voiced stop counterparts [...] Read more.
The ability to discriminate phonetically similar first language (L1) and second language (L2) sounds has significant consequences for achieving target-like proficiency in second-language learners. This study examines the L2 perception of Spanish approximants [β, δ, ɣ] in comparison with their voiced stop counterparts [b, d, g] by adult English-Spanish bilinguals. Of interest is how perceptual effects are modulated by factors related to language dominance, including proficiency, language history, attitudes, and L1/L2 use, as measured by the Bilingual Language Profile questionnaire. Perception of target phones was assessed in adult native Spanish speakers (n = 10) and Spanish learners (n = 23) of varying proficiency levels, via (vowel-consonant-vowel) VCV sequences featuring both Spanish approximants and voiced stops during an AX discrimination task. Results indicate a significant positive correlation between perceptual accuracy and a language dominance score. Findings further demonstrate a significant hierarchy of increasing perceptual difficulty: β < δ < ɣ. Through an examination of bilingual language dominance, composed of the combined effects of language history, use, proficiency, and attitudes, the present study contributes a more nuanced and complete examination of individual variables that affect L2 perception, reaching beyond proficiency and experience alone. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Embodiment and Image Schemas: Interpreting the Figurative Meanings of English Phrasal Verbs
Languages 2020, 5(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010006 - 22 Jan 2020
Viewed by 178
Abstract
The present article suggests that the figurative meanings of English phrasal verbs can be interpreted by means of image schemas. It is argued that image schemas reflect bodily experiences which constitute configurations of spatial perception. The article classifies image schemas and draws examples [...] Read more.
The present article suggests that the figurative meanings of English phrasal verbs can be interpreted by means of image schemas. It is argued that image schemas reflect bodily experiences which constitute configurations of spatial perception. The article classifies image schemas and draws examples from English phrasal verbs. The article discusses how the semantics of the particle (which prototypically denotes space and motion) encourages various types of image schemas which can be extended into more abstract and metaphoric readings. The article investigates how English phrasal verbs of the form take plus particles encourage the image schemas of containment, the journey and its component parts, goal, path, proximity-distance, linkage-separation, front-back orientation, part-whole relationship and linear order. The article also argues for image schematic transformations. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Proposals for a Discourse Analysis Practice Integrated into Digital Humanities: Theoretical Issues, Practical Applications, and Methodological Consequences
Languages 2020, 5(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010005 - 20 Jan 2020
Viewed by 218
Abstract
In this article, I put forward a linguistic analysis model for analyzing meaning which is based on a methodology that falls within the wider framework of the digital humanities and is equipped with digital tools that meet the theoretical requirements stated. First, I [...] Read more.
In this article, I put forward a linguistic analysis model for analyzing meaning which is based on a methodology that falls within the wider framework of the digital humanities and is equipped with digital tools that meet the theoretical requirements stated. First, I propose a conception of the digital humanities which favors a close relationship between digital technology and the humanities. This general framework will justify the use of a number of models embodied in a dynamic conception of language. This dynamism will then be reflected in the choice of metrics and textual analysis tools (developed in the field of textometry, especially the Iramuteq software). The semantic functioning of linguistic units will be described by using these tools within the identified methodological framework and will help to better understand the processes of variations, whether temporal or generic, within vast discursive corpora. I propose a way of analyzing corpora with specific tools, confronting the humanities with computing/numerical technology. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
From Regional Dialects to the Standard: Measuring Linguistic Distance in Galician Varieties
Languages 2020, 5(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010004 - 13 Jan 2020
Viewed by 436
Abstract
The analysis of the linguistic distance between dialect varieties and the standard variety typically focuses on establishing the influence exerted by the standard norm on the dialects. In languages whose standard form was established and implemented well after the beginning of the last [...] Read more.
The analysis of the linguistic distance between dialect varieties and the standard variety typically focuses on establishing the influence exerted by the standard norm on the dialects. In languages whose standard form was established and implemented well after the beginning of the last century, however, such as Galician, it is still possible to perform studies from other perspectives. Unlike other languages, standard Galician was not based on a single dialect but aspired instead to be supradialectal in nature. In the present study, the tools and methods of quantitative dialectology are brought to bear in the task of establishing the extent to which dialect varieties of Galician resemble or differ from the standard variety. Moreover, the results of the analysis underline the importance of the different dialects in the evaluation of the supradialectal aim, as established by the makers of the standard variety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Perspectives in Geolinguistics and Dialectology)
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Open AccessArticle
An Approach to Studying the Sociolinguistic Integration of Romanian Immigrants Residing in the Community of Madrid
Languages 2020, 5(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010003 - 02 Jan 2020
Viewed by 254
Abstract
Grounded in different theoretical approaches of sociolinguistics, this study aims to examine the sociolinguistic integration process of the Romanian immigrant population that resides in Madrid. Semi-guided interviews are carried out with Romanian immigrants in order to obtain qualitative information regarding different aspects of [...] Read more.
Grounded in different theoretical approaches of sociolinguistics, this study aims to examine the sociolinguistic integration process of the Romanian immigrant population that resides in Madrid. Semi-guided interviews are carried out with Romanian immigrants in order to obtain qualitative information regarding different aspects of the sociolinguistic integration of the immigrant population; additionally, questionnaires are administered to the same informants, with the objective of obtaining quantitative information on attitudes. Furthermore, questionnaires on attitudes were administered to 1534 informants of Spanish origin who reside in Madrid to analyze their attitudes with regard to the Romanian immigrant population living in Madrid. The analysis performed thus far indicates that the Romanian informants seem to have a good attitude toward the speech of Madrid and, in general, seem highly predisposed to integrating into their host community. The most significant conclusions drawn from the preliminary phase of analysis presented here are that although the Romanian informants perceive their integration positively, the host community does not perceive it in the same way. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Language Difficulty and Prior Learning Influence Foreign Vocabulary Acquisition
Languages 2020, 5(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010002 - 27 Dec 2019
Viewed by 395
Abstract
When learning a foreign language, words that are the hardest to learn are often the easiest to forget. Yet, there is also evidence that more challenging learning contexts can lead to greater long-term retention. Here, we investigate the effect of language difficulty on [...] Read more.
When learning a foreign language, words that are the hardest to learn are often the easiest to forget. Yet, there is also evidence that more challenging learning contexts can lead to greater long-term retention. Here, we investigate the effect of language difficulty on vocabulary retention by teaching participants novel words that varied in both imageability and similarity to a known language over a period of four weeks. We found that easier words (high-imageability and familiar) were generally retained better than harder words (low-imageability and unfamiliar). However, when words were fully learned during training, the more difficult unfamiliar words were later recalled with higher accuracy than easier familiar words. The effect of language difficulty on vocabulary retention therefore varies depending on how well words were initially encoded. We conclude that greater challenges can reap greater long-term rewards so long as learners establish a strong foundation during initial acquisition. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Organizational and Formational Structures of Networks in the Mental Lexicon: A State-Of-The-Art through Systematic Review
Languages 2020, 5(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010001 - 24 Dec 2019
Viewed by 388
Abstract
This state-of-the-art presents a systematic exploration on the use of network patterns in global research efforts to understand, organize and represent the mental lexicon. Results have shown an increase over recent years in the usage of complex, small-world and scale-free network patterns within [...] Read more.
This state-of-the-art presents a systematic exploration on the use of network patterns in global research efforts to understand, organize and represent the mental lexicon. Results have shown an increase over recent years in the usage of complex, small-world and scale-free network patterns within the literature. With the increasing complexity of network patterns, we see more potential in the inter-disciplinary exploration of the mental lexicon through universal and mathematically-describable, behavioral patterns in small-world and scale-free networks. A systematic review of 36 items of methodologically-selected literature serve as a means to explore how the greater literary body understands network structures within the mental lexicon. Network-based approaches are discriminated between three contrasting varieties. These include: ‘simple networks’, characterized by arbitrarily organized graph patterns of metaphorical importance; ‘connectionist networks’, a broad category of networks which explore the structural features of a system through the analysis of emergent properties; and lastly ‘complex networks’, distinguished as small-world, scale-free networks which follow a strict and mathematically-describable structure in agreement with the Barabási–Albert model. Each network approach is explored in terms of their discernible differences which relate to their parameters and affect their implications. A final evaluation of observed patterns within the selected literature is offered, as well as an elaboration on the sense of trajectory beheld in the research in order to offer insight and orientation for future research. Full article
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