PARLAY Proceedings – Issue 3

PARLAY 2015 was held at the University of York on 11 September 2015.
The functions of multiple languages in mealtime interactions of an Arabic-English speaking family: A sociolinguistic approach
Fatma Said
Abstract Download PDF

This paper discusses the ways in which members of an Arabic-English speaking family use their languages for a variety of social roles and functions during their joint mealtime conversations. The data was collected over a period of eight months, and subsequently analysed from an interactional sociolinguistic standpoint. The findings indicate that the use and switch between Arabic and English serve to assist parents in socialising their children into specific desired social practices and understandings, in allowing them to reinforce their identities as socialisers, as well as a way for them to communicate emotion to their children. These languages equally serve to assist the children to reinforce their constantly changing identities, to form a connection with their parents, and importantly as a symbolic tool through which they take up their agency in the process of socialisation. The findings also suggest that the constant use of both languages in this everyday mundane activity of joint mealtimes plays an integral role in maintaining the Arabic language as the family's home or minority language (Said & Zhu Hua, in press, De Houwer, 2015).

Individual differences and intake of novel words in L2 written input
Veronica Garcia Castro
Abstract Download PDF

The study aims to analyse the effects of the individual differences of L2 educational background, working memory capacity, vocabulary size, and attitude both in the L1 and the L2 on the incidental learning of receptive and productive knowledge of the following word's aspects: association, grammatical functions, and orthographic forms. The participants were 17 students learning English as a foreign language in San Jose, Costa Rica. They completed a battery of pre-tests for individual differences before the main exposure task, and they undertook six post-tests to determine their receptive and productive knowledge of the words' aspects mentioned above. Results showed that, overall, participants scored higher in all the receptive tasks than the productive ones; that association scores were significantly higher than those of grammatical functions; that scores on the productive orthography task were significantly higher than both the association and the grammatical tasks; that L1 reading for pleasure has an effect in receptive knowledge of orthographic forms and productive knowledge of grammatical functions, that phonetic memory has an effect on the receptive and productive knowledge of grammatical functions, and that the intake of nouns was higher than that of verbs and adjectives.

An oscillomic approach to the human cognitive phenotype: Philosophical and empirical reflections
Elliot Murphy
Abstract Download PDF

Exploring recent work in systems neuroscience and comparative biolinguistics, it is argued that only by decomposing the computational operations of language into their generic sub-operations will an explanatory neurolinguistics emerge. Methods of investigating the brain mechanisms of language comprehension are discussed, and the prospects for Dynamic Cognomics are explored alongside more fundamental considerations of top-down versus bottom-up studies of cognitive phylogenies. It is shown that the translational approach advocated by Dynamic Cognomics, promoting computational-oscillatory cross-talk, can establish a degree of alignment between core computational properties of the human cognitive phenotype (including the establishment of featural covariance) and a set of generic, domain-general neuronal mechanisms (including phase-amplitude coupling).

Wordless language as musical sound
Chang Seok Choi
Abstract Download PDF

Can a wordless language, i.e. phoneme, transform into a musical sound? If so, how? and is this musical sound based on a wordless language able to express a metaphysical concept such as musica mundana? The aim of this research is not only to find with the study of phonemes new sources of musical materials and compositional tools, experimenting with a wordless language in a musical context whether it can be a musical sound, but also to find an answer to the question about whether this approach can have a possibility to illustrate a musical language high above this world. This treatise consists of three sections. The first section explains backgrounds and questions about whether a wordless language can transform into a musical sound, and also whether this approach can illustrate the harmony of the Heaven (Utopia). The second section explicates the compositional process in realising these ideas into a musical composition Initium (Start) for Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Bass Clarinet and Electroacoustics with Video (2011), with the aid of phonetics (IPA). The last section discusses the outcome of this praxis that yields unique colours, timbres and sounds. In Initium (2011), I experimented with vowels and consonants to find musical materials in phonemes, breaking down a word into syllables. Thorough this process of the disintegration and (re)integration of vowels and consonants, the rendering of a wordless language unveils mysterious sound effects in a musical context, somewhat and somehow suggesting the probability of illustrating philosophical and emotional meanings in sounds. As a result, the limited combination of vowels and consonants in a musical context has a possibility of creating musical phenomena as well as that of mirroring the harmony of the Heaven.

Apologies in Saudi academic emails
Nisrin A. Hariri
Abstract Download PDF

This paper considers the new directions for the pragmatic analysis of apologies by testing existing frameworks from interpersonal communication for rapport management (Spencer-Oatey, 2002) against a new dataset that comes from a computer mediated form of communication, namely emails gathered from educational exchanges between students and staff in a Saudi Arabian higher education context. The collected data consists of 140 emails, of which 19 included an apology. The apologies in the email were coded against Olshtain and Cohen's (1983) framework of apology. In order to explore their rapport potential, the participants were also interviewed. The key research questions which drive this study are:

  • How does apologising vary according to the gender and role of the email sender?
  • How is rapport potential of apologising perceived by the participants in this study?

The analysis showed that, although apologising in a Saudi context bears some similarity with apologising in other English contexts, there are some differences in the use, choice and form of apologies, but there are apologising phenomena in the data that have thus far not been accounted for. Likewise, while in earlier research, an apology might either function as a face-saving act for maintaining the hearer's face (Edmondson et al., 1984: 121) or a face-threatening act (FTA) for damaging the apologiser's face (Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1984: 206), in the current study, the only evidence that apologising was perceived as a FTA was restricted to acknowledge responsibility, which in the data, tended to be avoided entirely. In most occasions in the data, an apology was considered to be a face-saving act.

The non-evidential meaning of the Tena Kichwa 'direct evidential'
Karolina Grzech
Abstract Download PDF

Quechuan languages are known to have a three-way evidential distinction between direct, indirect and reported source of information (cf. Willett 1988; Aikhenvald 2004). The Quechuan enclitic =mi has previously been analysed e.g. as marking direct evidence and certainty (Weber 1986; Floyd 1997), or the 'best possible ground' for making an assertion (Faller 2002). However, neither of the to-date analyses is adequate for describing the meaning of the enclitic =mi in Tena Kichwa, a Quechuan variety spoken in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In this article, I discuss the properties of the Tena Kichwa =mi, and show that in this variety, the marker is best analysed not as an evidential, but as a marker of epistemic primacy.

The event structure of le: An exo-skeletal approach
Chen Wang
Abstract Download PDF

In this paper, I discuss some irregular behaviours of le and argue that le with its core function as a telicity marker is also responsible for perfective marking in some circumstances. This provides account for the phenomena that atelic structures cannot have perfective episodic meaning in Chinese, which is unexpected within the precedent ideas. A structure from exo-skeletal approach is then proposed to capture this behaviour of le, in which the availability of telic and perfective readings can just be derived from the range assignment to a series of open values at functional heads. This leads to a natural result non-agentive telic intransitives with le in Mandarin Chinese all have an unaccusative structure, which is necessary for the projection of quantity of aspect. A potential threat to all previous assumptions of word-final le, which results in an independent category of le3, is also discussed, and I will show the le in such cases is just in the word-final version, and its different behaviour of marking irrealis situations should be attributed to the presence of a focus projection, which blocks the covert raising of le from inner aspect to outer aspect, thus preventing it from assigning perfective range to the functional head while saving it from double marking.

Metapragmatically engaging with gender norms in Japanese language textbooks
Pontus Andersson
Abstract Download PDF

This paper examines gender biases in a number of textbooks for Japanese as a foreign language, and differs from other forays into the subject by focusing on the presentation of language and on metapragmatic engagement. After an extensive literature review to situate the reader in scholarly linguistic discourses on gender in Japanese, the paper attempts to tentatively answer the question: How are linguistic gender norms managed and presented in textbooks for Japanese as a foreign language? It does this by contrasting Japanese as described in scholarly work with textbook representations of the same, as well as through comparing the textbooks themselves. In this early-stage analysis, I find that the different textbooks have different strategies for presenting gendered forms, characterised by a mix of gender blindness and prioritising male audiences of learners over female ones. This may have consequences for teachers' and students' opportunities for metapragmatic engagement with textbook materials in classroom contexts, as well as for students' lives once they leave the classrooms.

Accent evaluation and the perception of spoken threats
James Tompkinson
Abstract Download PDF

Although we may consider the existence of a 'threatening tone of voice', there is little empirical evidence on what, if any, aspects of speech can make somebody sound threatening. This study presents an exploratory examination of whether or not a speaker's accent can affect how threatening they are perceived to be. Participants provided evaluative responses to a series of direct and indirect threats recorded in three British English accent guises: Received Pronunciation, London Cockney and Northern Irish. The results showed that the non-standard London Cockney accent was rated as sounding significantly more threatening than the RP and Northern Irish guises in the indirect threat condition. Trends in the data also support the assertions that stereotypes about certain accents and threat types can change over time in response to changing world dynamics, with a bomb threat in a Northern Irish accent evaluated as being more threatening by older listeners compared to younger listeners. The London Cockney accent was also rated as being less threatening in the indirect condition by listeners from the South of England compared to those from the North, suggesting that listener geographical background could further influence evaluations of threats. The results highlight a potential issue for the legal system if evaluative judgements about a speaker's accent can influence listener perceptions of potential language crimes.