Submitted theses 2020

Thesis: The core of Mangarla grammar

PhD: Brigitte Agnew

Submission year: 2020

Supervisor: Nick Thieberger

CoEDL node: University of Melbourne

CoEDL program: Archiving/Shape

Abstract:

Mangarla is a Pama-Nyungan language of the Marrngu subgroup, originally spoken in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. Today, the language is severely endangered with a small number of speakers living in disparate communities outside of traditional lands. This work describes the core grammatical features of Mangarla and examines its linguistic connections to other languages in the region, both related and typologically unrelated, providing insight into the fluidity of individual language varieties in contact.

 

Thesis: Temporal, aspectual and modal expression in Anindilyakwa, the language of the Groote Eylandt Archipelago, Australia

James BednallPhD: James Bednall

Submission year: 2020

Supervisors: Jane Simpson & Patrick Caudal

CoEDL node: Australian National University

CoEDL program: Shape

Abstract:

This thesis provides an empirically driven and theoretically informed examination of temporal, aspectual and modal (TAM) expression in Anindilyakwa, an underdescribed and underdocumented Gunwinyguan language of the Groote Eylandt archipelago, north-east Arnhem Land, Australia. The goals of the thesis are both descriptive and theoretical. The first is to provide a detailed description of some of the core grammatical properties of Anindilyakwa, particularly related to the verbal complex. This descriptive goal is linked to, and builds the infrastructure for, the second goal of the thesis: to provide a theoretically-informed examination of temporal, aspectual and modal expression and interaction in Anindilyakwa, thus contributing towards (and building upon) research in the area of TAM semantics and pragmatics (and their interfaces with morpho-syntax). The original contribution of this thesis lies in the cross-section between theoretically-informed morpho-syntactic, semantic and pragmatic approaches to TAM expression in natural languages, and the exploration and examination of this domain in a fieldwork and language documentation setting: how do underdescribed languages inform our understanding of this domain, and how should we approach the documentation of these concepts in the field? Anindilyakwa is a particularly interesting language to examine in this regard, given the polysynthetic nature and complex morphological make-up and combinatorics of the verb. Inflectionally, TAM expression is realised through the combination of (at least) two discontinuous morphological slots of the verb structure. In addition to the complex morphological combinatorics of the verbal structure, this inflectional system displays widespread aspectuo-temporal underspecification, coupled with a widespread lack of contrastiveness in many of the paradigmatic forms (i.e. syncretism). Thus, unpacking and understanding these inflectional verbal properties, with respect to TAM expression, is where the core of this thesis lies. This comprehensive semantic and morpho-syntactic investigation into the TAM system of Anindilyakwa contributes not only to the description of this underdocumented language, but it also bolsters the representation of understudied (particularly non-European) languages that have received detailed TAM study, ensuring that future cross-linguistic typological work on TAM has access to richer data in a wider sample of the world's languages.


Thesis: I’m Talking tú vos: A Comparative Study of Morphosyntactic Variation and Change in the Chilean Second-person Singular

Matthew CallaghanPhD: Matthew Callaghan

Submission year: 2020

Supervisor: Catherine Travis

CoEDL node: Australian National University

CoEDL program: Evolution

Abstract:

This thesis reports a real and apparent time Variationist study of a change in progress in the second person singular (2sg) system in Chilean Spanish. In this variety, speakers manage two 2sg familiar pronominal and verbal paradigms: tu and corresponding tuteo verb forms as in (1), and vos with corresponding voseo verb forms (2), although both occur most frequently with a 0 pronoun (3). The two familiar paradigms can also mix, as seen in (4). (1) Tu tienes ahorros. You -TU have-TUTEO savings. (2) o sea vos no tenis ningun concierto. In other words you-VOS have-VOSEO no concert. (3) ..cuando tengas la posibilidad de conocer, When you-0 have-TUTEO the chance to see, tenis que ir. You-0 have-VOSEO to go. (4) ... Pero tu tenis que trabajar po. But you-TU have-VOSEO to work. (From CCSS) Traditionally described as stigmatised and restricted to lower socio-economic groups (e.g. Alonso and Lida, 1940: 54), since the 1960s voseo verb forms (often disguised by a tu or 0 pronoun) have expanded to the speech of all social classes (e.g. Morales Pettorino, 1972). Indeed, Torrejon (1986: 682) hypothesised that they might one day replace tuteo as the universal standard form of address for educated Chileans in informal situations with familiar interlocutors. Although there has been some recent Variationist work (e.g. Bishop and Michnowicz, 2010, Rivadeneira Valenzuela, 2016, Fernandez-Mallat, 2018), there is still much to be learned about the real usage of voseo in spontaneous conversation. Analysing approximately 3200 tokens from two stratified corpora of conversational Chilean Spanish recorded in the 1970s (the Habla culta ('educated speech') corpus (Rabanales and Contreras, 1979, 1990)) and 2010s (the Corpus of Conversational Santiago Spanish (CCSS) recorded by the researcher), respectively, this study explores three main themes: (i) the nature of the reported change; (ii) the relative degree of stigmatisation of the vos pronoun and voseo verb forms (e.g. Stevenson, 2007: 93); and given the rapid change, mixing of the paradigms and general lack of metalinguistic awareness about voseo (e.g. Hummel, 2010: 111-12), (iii) the extent to which speakers distinguish two separate paradigms, or conflate them into a single paradigm. 

 

Thesis: Symbolic Play and Language Acquisition: The Dynamics of Infant-Caretaker Communication during Symbolic Play

Noelie CreaghePhD: Noelie Creaghe

Submission year: 2020

Supervisor: Evan Kidd

CoEDL node: Australian National University 

CoEDL program: Processing

Abstract:

Infant symbolic play and language acquisition have long been linked. While both activities are inherently social and their acquisition is typically scaffolded by a competent other (Vygotsky, 1978), most studies investigating the symbolic play-language link have considered it in contexts of solitary play. This thesis examines the dynamic nature of the relationship in a semi-naturalistic setting. Fifty-two infant-caretaker dyads engaged in a 20-minute play session that manipulated play type through the use of different toy sets (symbolic versus non-symbolic).

 

Thesis: Variation in Raga A quantitative and qualitative study of the language of North Pentecost, Vanuatu

Marie-France DuhamelPhD: Marie-France Duhamel

Supervisor: Nick Evans

Submission year: 2020

CoEDL node: Australian National University 

CoEDL program: Wellsprings

Abstract:

If we are to understand global linguistic diversity, we must first understand the mechanisms which engender and maintain it. This is what the Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity project (Australian National University, 2014-2019) aims to examine by studying variation in small communities of the Australasia-Pacific region. Within the framework of the Wellsprings project, this thesis investigates the existence and spread of linguistic variation in the speech community of Raga, on the island of Pentecost, in linguistically diverse Vanuatu. It is primarily a field study, firmly grounded in the survey of social and linguistic data collected in 2015-2017 in north Pentecost, from 58 men and women representing three generations of speakers. This thesis examines variables in three different linguistic domains: use of possessive classifiers (morpho-syntactic); frequency of borrowing from Bislama and nativisation strategies (lexical); and deletion of the phonemic velar fricative (phonological). This thesis adds to the body of research that addresses this gap. The thesis also highlights the value of investigating languages in their social context, and in close collaboration with native speakers. This bottom-up approach is essential in identifying and untangling the factors at play in the complex history of Vanuatu's linguistic diversity.

Open access: https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/205516


Thesis: Language In My Mouth: Linguistic Variation in the Nmbo Speech Community of Southern New Guinea

Eri KashimaPhD: Eri Kashima

Submission year: 2020

Supervisor: Nicholas Evans

CoEDL node: Australian National University 

CoEDL program: Shape & Wellsprings

Abstract:

This thesis is a mixed-methods investigation into the question of the sociolinguistics of linguistic diversity in Papua New Guinea. Social and cultural traits of New Guinean speech communities have been hypothesised as conducive to language differentiation and diversification (Laycock 1991, Thurston 1987, 1992, Foley 2000, Ross 2001), however there have been few empirical studies to support these hypotheses. In this thesis I investigate linguistic micro-variations within a contemporary New Guinean speech community, with the goal of identifying socio-cultural pressures that affect language variation and change. The community under investigation is the Nmbo speech community located in the Morehead area of Southern New Guinea.

Open access: https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/201927


Thesis: Kundangkudjikaberrk: Language variation and change in Bininj Kunwok, a Gunwinyguan language of Northern Australia

Alex MarleyPhD: Alexandra Marley

Submission year: 2020

Supervisor: Nicholas Evans

CoEDL node: Australian National University 

CoEDL program: Shape & Wellsprings

Abstract:

This thesis presents a pan-dialectal and cross-generational description and analysis of variation in Bininj Kunwok, a Gunwinyguan language of west Arnhem Land with a number of regional varieties. At around 2000 speakers and with children still acquiring it as a first language, is one of the strongest Australian Aboriginal languages. This thesis brings together a series of case studies on variation in Bininj Kunwok, examining linguistic and social variables and analysing them through a range of complementary theoretical frameworks. The case studies cover a range of variables, including word-initial engma deletion, pronominal neutralisation and regularisation, loanword strategies, kin terms, and paradigm variation. Such an approach allowed for multiple linguistic levels to be analysed: phonological, morphosyntactic, syntactic, paradigmatic, lexical, and semantic. The analyses undertaken here build on the development of the Bininj Kunwok Corpus undertaken through this project. Combining my own recordings with those of previous researchers, I built a sizable corpus of around 27.5 hours of speech. As the corpus has an apparent time depth of a century, not only was a comprehensive analysis of synchronic variation possible, but also diagnosis of changes in progress. Cross-generational comparison of speaker data shows a phonological change in progress, increasing regularisation of pronominal forms, and vast variation in paradigmatic structures. The huge amount of variation in Bininj Kunwok points towards a society that permits and even promotes linguistic variation at the individual level, creating an environment highly favourable to fostering and maintaining diversity. Taken together, the above studies give a detailed picture of variation within an Australian language. By incorporating a number of complementary methodological and theoretical frameworks to examine a suite of variables, this thesis lays the groundwork for a new direction in variationist studies, and for an understanding of the socio-cultural forces that have shaped, and continue to shape, the great linguistic diversity found on the Australian continent.

Open access: https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/216347


Thesis: Technical considerations for the application of deep learning methods for multimodal emotion recognition

Nikodem RybakPhD: Nikodem Rybak

Submission year: 2020

Supervisor: Daniel Angus

CoEDL Node: University of Queensland

CoEDL program: Technology

Abstract:

Thesis is embargoed until 23 November 2023.</p>

Recognising, processing and expressing emotions is essential to humans, both psychologically and socially, and has a significant influence over the pragmatics of human interactions. This study used current state-of-the-art signal pre-processing and deep learning methods for the automatic classification of affective states including recurrent neural networks and convolutional neural networks for voice and facial expression analysis, respectively. Various pre-processing and data augmentation techniques, such as deep learning-based face pose normalisation, were demonstrated to be effective during the pre-processing phase of the established framework.

Open access: https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:bf3427d</a></strong></p>

 

Thesis: The early development of young children's imitation of social robots

Kristyn Sommer (nee Hensby)PhD: Kristyn Sommer (nee Hensby)

Submission year: 2020

Supervisor: Janet Wiles

CoEDL node: University of Queensland

CoEDL program: Technology

Abstract:

This thesis explored the nature and extent of young children's social learning from robots, principally investigating whether children will imitate a robot. Across three studies, this thesis revealed that 1- to 6-year-old children can imitate robots, but produce fewer actions than from a human model, providing the first evidence of what I term the ‘robot deficit.' Importantly, the robot deficit was found to diminish with increases in age. This thesis provides the most comprehensive investigation to date of 1-to 6-year-old children's social learning from a robot, in comparison to a human, documenting evidence of a robot deficit.

Open access: https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:d51791


Thesis: Phonological activation in Hong Kong deaf readers: Evidence from eye movements and event-related potentials

Philip ThierfelderPhD: Philip Thierfelder

Submission year: 2020

Supervisor: Gillian Wigglesworth

CoEDL node: University of Melbourne

CoEDL program: Processing

Abstract:

Understanding the roles of spoken and sign phonological code in reading processes is important for educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. However, the pool of data on this topic is limited and has mostly centered on readers of alphabetic languages. In places like Hong Kong, where deaf signers are relatively few, the shortage of research on phonological processing during reading is even more severe. This thesis addressed this problem by investigating the cognitive processes underlying Chinese reading in Hong Kong deaf readers using two methodological approaches, eye movements and event-related potentials, across four separate studies.

Open access: https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/251332


Thesis: Acoustic cues to prominence and phrasing in bilingual speech

Catalina TorresPhD: Catalina Torres

Submission year: 2020

Supervisors: Janet Fletcher & Gillian Wigglesworth

CoEDL node: University of Melbourne

CoEDL program: Processing & Learning

Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the prosodic structure of French and the Oceanic language Drehu, spoken by a small bilingual community on the island of Lifou, in the South Pacific. Lifou is a remote island belonging to the archipelago of New Caledonia, localised more than 16000 km away from mainland France. Although officially a French overseas territory, live in Lifou is to a large degree organised according to customary tradition of the indigenous population, the Kanak people. There is no obvious societal majority language on the island and French and Drehu are commonly spoken by the indigenous population, who make up the majority of the inhabitants. The aim of this examination is to develop a phonetic prosodic model for the two languages and determine whether there are effects of prosodic transfer between the two languages of bilingual speakers. Of particular interest is the the phonetic description of prominence and phrasing of the two languages for a categorisation of their prosodic typology. This thesis presents five studies dealing with (i) the acoustics of Drehu word prosody, (ii) the acoustic correlates of intonational structure in Lifou French, (iii) the acoustic durational properties of Lifou French, (iv) the acoustics of prominence marking and phrasing in Drehu, and (v) acoustic cues used in word recognition in Drehu and French.  This dissertation highlights the relevance of applying detailed acoustic descriptions to under-documented languages which are poorly understood regarding their prosodic systems. It contributes to the documentation of the languages in the Oceanic region and advances our understanding of bilingual speech processes.

Open access: https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/258746


  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University