Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

Doubling in Language and Associated Meanings


Supervisor

Jason Brown

Discipline

Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

Project code: ART003

Doubling in language, often referred to as reduplication, is a widespread phenomenon.  Reduplication can be defined as the doubling of a word, or a part of a word, and examples include buku-buku ‘books’ from Indonesian (cf. buku ‘book’), and possibly forms like table-shmable in English.  It is productively used in many languages, and often used unproductively in other languages.  As a word-formation device, reduplication can express a range of meanings.  Despite this, the iconic characteristics of reduplication are often invoked in claims that the phenomenon is fundamentally different from other types of word formation.  For instance, reduplication, which is a doubling, is frequently used to express plurality, or habitual aspect.  On the other hand, reduplication can be used to express meanings that are seemingly unrelated to “doubling”.    This project aims to determine what the cross-linguistic tendencies are for doubling in natural languages.  What are the meanings that are associated with this type of word-formation?  Are there any unexpected meanings?  What are the meanings that are expressed by reduplication in emerging language varieties, such as creoles?

Scholar’s Work

The scholar will help to collect generalizations from various sources, including: online databases, grammars, dictionaries, and articles.  The scholar will collaborate in organizing this data into a useable format.  The work will include searching through online databases of different language families, searching through volumes that are dedicated to reduplication, and reading sources on the topic.  The work will also include retrieving texts on individual languages from the library, including grammars and dictionaries of languages, and noting generalisations found in those sources.  Photocopying or scanning portions of these resources will also be a task of the scholar.  The scholar will be expected to contribute intellectually to the project, helping to identify relevant language families and languages, helping to guide the overall direction of the research, and potentially co-authoring writing.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The scholar must have basic skills in linguistic analysis, ideally having had experience in morphology, phonology, and semantics.  The scholar will preferably have an understanding of how library research is conducted, and how linguistic research is conducted.

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

"Repeat after me": Elicited imitation as a measure of second language proficiency. The relationship between performance on elicited imitation and performance on other measures of language proficiency


Supervisor

Dr Rosemary Erlam
ext 87081

Discipline

Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

Project code: Project code: ART004

Elicited imitation has been widely used to investigate second language proficiency. Erlam (2006) describes a measure of Elicited Imitation that requires test takers to listen to, and make a ‘belief choice’ about a statement before repeating it. Making this belief choice means that there is a delay between the test taker hearing the statement and repeating it. Erlam (2006) presents evidence from the literature to support the claim that this delay requires the test taker to process the statement and not just repeat it without understanding. It therefore indicates whether or not the language has been ‘internalised’. A recent meta-analysis (Yan et al., 2016) claims that the impact of this delay needs to be investigated further. This project aims to compare performance on Elicited imitation with and without the requirement to make a ‘belief choice’ (i.e., with and without the delay feature of the test). It will look at how performance compares with a number of other measures of language proficiency/use. These are: a timed grammaticality judgement test, an untimed grammaticality judgement test, a metalinguistic test and another Elicited imitation test (Ortega et al., 2002). Results will allow for a clearer understanding of the construct of Elicited imitation.

Scholar’s Work

The successful scholar will first assist in adapting and modifying existing tests for use in this particular study. If the skill set of the successful applicant allows it would be preferable to modify one of the computer administered Elicited Imitation tests into the format required for this study and to design a computer administered version of the second Elicited Imitation test. If this is not possible, more traditional forms of these tests will be used.
The scholar will be responsible for recruiting participants for this study, following requirements as set out in the Ethics application approval. Participants will be speakers of languages other than English and may consist of Summer School and ELA students. It is anticipated that they be offered remuneration for participating in the study. The scholar will be responsible for administering all the tests that are involved in this study. Each study participant will complete 1. An Elicited imitation test (with or without the belief choice component) 2. A timed grammaticality judgement test 3. An untimed grammaticality judgement test 4. A metalinguistic knowledge test 5. A further Elicited imitation test. Some of these measures will be computer administered, some will be pen and paper tests.

The scholar will manage the data collection and storage processes associated with the administration of these tests. Depending on the skill set of the successful applicant, they may also participate in the data coding and analysis.  

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The successful applicant must be careful and meticulous with an attention to detail. This is essential for the management of data.

An ability to relate well to others. Some background knowledge of language teaching/assessment would be an advantage.

Computer programming skills a distinct advantage, in particular, knowledge of DMDX.

Experience in management of large amounts of data also an advantage, as is experience with SPSS.

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

The influence of affective and cognitive factors on second language learning success


Supervisor

Shaofeng Li

Discipline

Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

Project code: Project code: ART005

This project investigates how second language learning outcomes are influenced by learners’ individual differences in anxiety, motivation, working memory and language aptitude. Anxiety and motivation fall into the affective domain of individual differences, while working memory and language aptitude pertain to the cognitive domain. The project is innovative in two aspects. First, it examines the unique and joint effects of these individual difference variables. Previous research has explored their influence in isolation, but it is important to examine their independent and combined contributions by including the variables in one model. Second, it takes a dynamic approach to the role of individual differences. Instead of treating the variables as determinants of ultimate attainment, the project ascertains whether the variables have differential effects on learning outcomes at initial and advanced stages of learning and whether their importance depends on the type of instruction learners receive.

Two experiments will be carried out. One examines the effects of the four variables on learners at different levels. To achieve this purpose, first- and fourth-year university ESL learners will be tested on the affective and cognitive variables, and they will also take tests of language proficiency. Statistical analysis will be performed to map the relationships between the individual difference factors and learners’ language proficiency. The other experiment seeks to probe whether learners with different affective and cognitive profiles benefit from different types of instruction. Participants of this experiment will be high school ESL learners, who will be divided into two groups and taught through two different approaches. The data will be analysed to identify whether the individual difference factors correlate differently with treatment effects of the two instructional approaches.

Scholar’s Work

The primary duty of the Summer Scholar is to help the researcher code and analyse the data. She/he will score the tests, transcribe the speech data, and record the data on spreadsheets. One experiment of the two experiments will be conducted during the period of the Scholarship, so one duty is to help the researcher develop instruments and run the experiment.  

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The project does not require special skills, but priority will be given to applicants who

  • are dedicated and conscientious
  • are interested in second language research
  • are willing to take challenges and learn new skills and knowledge
  • will maintain rigor and quality consistently
  • have a background in psychology and linguistics

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.