Skip to Content

College of Arts & Sciences
Linguistics Program

Colloquium Archives

Past colloquium talks

For recent colloquium talks, see Colloquium Series.


Spring 2015


Friday, February 13

3:30 - 4:30 p.m., Gambrell Hall Room 151

Talk 1: Visualizing Gallo: Suspenders, dictionaries and the negotiation of late-modern localized speakerhood

Sandra Keller,  University of South Carolina


Talk 2: The effect of implicit causality on nonnative pronoun resolution

Wei Cheng, University of South Carolina


Friday, March 28

3:30 - 4:30 p.m., Russell House 304

(Reception begins at 3:00 p.m.)

Acquisition of adverbial connectors in German as L2

Gisella Ferraresi,  University of Bamberg


Friday, March 20

3:30 - 4:30 p.m., Gambrell Hall Room 151

On some diachronic changes in Cimbrian, a German contact variety

Gisella Ferraresi, University of Bamberg



Fall 2014

Friday, September 26

3:30 - 4:40 p.m., Gambrell Hall Room 151

Talk 1: Non-native speaker processing of English phrasal verb constructions

Aubrey Dillard,  University of South Carolina


Talk 2: Discourses of nostalgia and progress among older speakers in the South

Julia McKinney, University of South Carolina


Spring 2014

Friday, January 31

12:00 (noon), Thomas Cooper Library Room 204 

Negotiating Africanness: Language practices and contemporary identities in Nigerian Pidgin and Gullah/Geechee creole contexts

Christine Ofulue, University of South Carolina


Thursday, February 20

4:15 p.m., Hamilton College 318

The Road to Liklob: Deception, Speech, and Avoiding Giving in the Marshall Islands

Elise Berman, University of North Carolina


Wednesday, February 26

12:00 (noon), Petigru 112

The phonetic abilities of early Spanish-Catalan bilinguals: contact-induced change, standardization, and dialectal leveling

Mark Amengual, Furman University


Friday, March 21

10:50-11:40 a.m., BA 402

TALK #1: A tale of two city language shifts: Spanish in Houston and Judeo-Spanish in New York City

3:30 p.m., BA 003

TALK #2: Morphological innovations in Judeo-Spanish heritage speakers

Rey Romero, University of Houston


Saterday, March 22

03:00-07:00 p.m., HUC 416

GSLING Students Research Symposium

Details TBA


Friday, April 4

3:30 PM, BA 337

The Challenges of Speak-English-Only Rules in the Workplace: A Sociolinguistic Perspective

Keith Walters, Portland State University


Friday, April 18

12 (noon), Petigru

How to Create 21st Century Learning Materials and Reach the World for Little or No Money

Curt Ford, University of South Carolina


Spring & Fall 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013, 12:00 PM Calcott 003

“Talking Taíno?  Indigenous activism and linguistic practices in Puerto Rico”  

Sherina Feliciano-Santos

This Brown Bag will largely focus on analyzing some of the speech practices of Taíno activists in Puerto Rico.  While historical narratives of the Caribbean and conventional knowledge have largely presumed the Taíno (indigenous population of the Caribbean) have been extinct, several persons in Puerto Rico are actively identifying with and mobilizing around this ethnic category.   One of the Taíno-identified challenges in such mobilization is that the Taíno language is no longer spoken and there is very little documentation from which to reconstruct it. Within this context, I consider how Taino activists understand what constitutes speaking Taino and how this becomes emblematic of Tainoness.  Additionally, I will briefly consider some Taíno organizations' attempts at reconstruction through their studies of still spoken Arawakan languages.

Friday, October 25, 2013, 3:30-5:00 PM, BA 303

A Linguistics Program Colloquium Co-sponsored by the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Mind and Brain

"We Reap What We Sow:  The Cascading Effects of Language Production on the Nature of Language and its Comprehension"

Maryellen C. MacDonald

Two critical questions in language research concern why languages have the form that they have, which typically is a concern of language typologists and other linguists, and and why language comprehension works the way that it does, a major concern of psycholinguists.  I will argue that we can find some important answers to both of these questions by investigating a central issue for language production researchers:  why people say things in certain ways and not others.   Language production processes involve the conversion of communicative intents into spoken, signed, or written utterances, and this conversion requires an intricate interplay of attention, retrieval from long term memory, motor planning and temporary maintenance of an utterance plan.  I'll present evidence that the nature of these processes (many of which are not language-specific) yield biases in production planning for certain kinds of word orders over others.  These biases to produce certain utterance forms over other viable alternatives have downstream consequences for language statistics, language typology, and language comprehension processes.  Using data from relative clauses in English, Mandarin, and several other languages, I'll trace these cascading effects from production biases and argue that a full account of comprehension and language typology will have to incorporate insights from language production.

Event flyer

 Friday, October 11, 2013, 12:00 PM GAMB 124

"A Corpus-Based Study on the Use of MAKE with Chinese EFL Learners"

Qing Liang, the Deputy Director of the Confucius Institute at USC and an associate professor at the Beijing Language and Culture University 

This is a project Qing worked on for two years and just finished this summer. This is going to be the first release of the results, so it will be great to be in on the ground floor hearing about her results.

Friday September 27, 2013 

Talks by Silvina Montrul, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

TALK #1 Friday, September 27, 2013 - 10:50-11:40 AM GAMB 006

"Language Learning and Forgetting in Childhood: Why it Matters"

Childhood is a critical age for learning a language, be it first or second, but also for forgetting it if exposure and use are not sustained (Montrul 2008). The vast majority of studies in second language acquisition and second/foreign language teaching focus on adult learners. Research suggests that acquiring a second language after puberty leads to variable levels of success in the second language. Although it is possible for some people to attain very high second language proficiency, this is an elusive goal for many others. There is also a belief that children are better second language learners than adults, and that starting acquisition of a second language in childhood significantly enhances the chances of reaching native-like ability in the second language later on (assuming, of course, sufficient and sustained exposure and use of the language).  Support for this belief comes from studies of immigrant children. But I have amply demonstrated with my research that as they learn the second language and become proficient in it, immigrant children and children of immigrants also tend to lose linguistic ability in their own native, family language, especially when they do not receive instruction in their heritage languages during the school-age period (K-12). Unfortunately, the number of studies examining the second language learning abilities of pre-school and school age children of immigrant and non-immigrant families is also astonishingly small. One possible reason for such a dearth of studies in the United States is that foreign language education is typically not part of the core K-5 school curriculum, and the fact that heritage languages are not generally supported in elementary schools. In this talk I present findings from research on language learning children and adults to show how a focus on language learning during the school-age period is crucial to understand the benefits of second language acquisition in different contexts and language learning and forgetting in bilingualism during the lifespan more generally. This research is crucial to eventually inform educational policy in this country.

Event Flyer 

TALK #2: Friday, September 27, 2013 - 3:30-5:00 PM HUC 201

 "Structural Changes in Spanish in the United States: Differential Object Marking"

Heritage speakers of Spanish have been shown to omit frequently the obligatory marker “a” with animate, specific direct object (*Juan vio María instead of Juan vio a María), and instance of Differential Object Marking (DOM). In Montrul (2002, 2004, and 2008) and subsequent work, I have claimed that a great deal of the linguistic patterns exhibited by Spanish heritage speakers in a variety of linguistic domains could be primarily due to incomplete acquisition due to reduced input in childhood. But critical questions also arise as to whether structural changes of this sort are also shaped by the particular characteristics of the heritage language, the linguistic practices in the community, and the quality of input they receive from their interlocutors. In this talk, I revisit my original position by showing that at least for differential object marking (DOM)—transfer from English and language change in the primary input (i.e., attrition in the first generation) may also lead to what looks like “incomplete acquisition” in heritage speakers. I discuss experimental results from child and adult heritage speakers and age and SES-matched native speakers in Mexico, first generation immigrants, bilingual children, and the mothers of some bilingual children. I show that what may look like the result of incomplete acquisition or attrition in childhood in the heritage speakers may be, in fact, acquisition of a stabilized feature in a new variety of Spanish, similar perhaps to what Sharma (2005) showed for the distribution of definite and indefinite articles in Indian English. I argue that the extension of research questions and methodologies from linguistic theory, psycholinguistics, and second language acquisition to investigate heritage language acquisition has significantly enlightened our current understanding of this special bilingual situation, but a better further progress moving forward necessitates a more fruitful integration of psycho-, neuro- and socio-linguistics.

Event Flyer

Friday  April 19, 2013 - 3:30 PM, GAMB 250

"Individual Differences and Heritage Language Writing"

Xiao Yang

This talk presents four studies with one shared focus: investigating the role of individual differences in Chinese heritage language writing. Drawing upon a multi-method research design and data from a four-year project of Chinese heritage language learning, these studies examine two individual differences variables, anxiety and identity, and their relationship with learner’s writing performance.

The first study discusses identity issues and measures of Chinese heritage language learners with difference dialect backgrounds; the second one explores these learners’ writing anxiety and its potential predictors. The third one examines how different writing activities impact writing anxiety. Finally, based on the learner corpus derived from blogs written by these learners, the fourth one analyzes the relationship between writing achievement and individual differences variables. The talk concludes by discussing future studies and possible application in other languages. 

Event Flyer

Friday  March 1, 2013 - 3:30 PM, GAMB 153

"Persistence and Remoteness in the Bantu tense"  

Ron Simango 

Bantu languages are well known for the robustness of their tense systems, with some  languages endowed with up to ten or more tenses – each tense presumably representing a specific area on the timeline. This paper explores the manner in which Bantu tenses encode degrees of remoteness and seeks to show that certain properties associated with Bantu tenses do not directly relate to degrees of remoteness. Consider, as a starting point the expression of a past situation in Babanki, a language spoken in Cameroon. In this language there are no less than four ways of expressing the sense conveyed by the sentence in (1). Full Abstract  - Event Flyer

February 21-22, 2013

Talks by  Armin Schwegler, University of California, Irvine     

TALK #1: Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 4:00 PM, WMBB 125

"Black Magic (Palo Monte): Spanish and African ritual tongues in contemporary Cuba"

This talk concentrates on one of Cuba’s most widespread ritual languages: the lengua of  Palo Monte (an Afro-Cuban religion with Kongo roots). Just a decade ago, the secret code of Palo Monte was mostly unintelligible to scholars, and its true origins unknown. Rapid advances in comparative Afro-Hispanic research over the past ten years have dramatically changed the former state of affairs:  today we know that this code consists of three very distinct speech varieties, i.e., [1] Pidgin Bozal Spanish, [2] Kikongo, and [3] Cuban Spanish. These three codes have  coexisted in a state of intense code-switching for at least 150 years, and they continue to undergo intense intermixing to this day.

My talk will consist of two parts.  Part 1 is aimed especially at newcomers to the Palo Monte religion, and introduces them to its key linguistic and ritual components. A series of photographs and sound bites will animate the discussion, and prepare the audience for the more technical Part 2. There I will provide an overview of a decade of research on Palo Monte, much of which is the result of fieldwork by the author and his colleague Constanza Rojas-Primus.

TALK #2: WORKSHOP – Friday February 22, 2013 - 11:15 AM, GAMB 201

"Doing Linguistic and Anthropological Fieldwork in Latin America: Techniques and Approaches"

This informal talk discusses some of the major challenges (and opportunities!) that arise when doing fieldwork in “exotic” and far-off places of Latin America.

Meant to maximize discussion, the talk is divided up into four parts. First, we will zero in on isolated Afro-Hispanic localities in Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia where the climate, remoteness, and/or potential for physical harm (malaria and other tropical diseases) render the collection of field data an especially complicated task. Suggestions will be made how to best overcome these difficulties, and use them as an advantage rather than disadvantage to in situ data gathering.

Part two of the talk discusses fieldwork in two Black speech communities to which outsiders – linguists included-- were originally denied access. The first of these is Palenque (Colombia), which remained isolated and “hidden away from the Western world” almost until the year 2000. The second is Cuba, where secret (and sacred) language of Palo Monte (Black Magic) remained a scholarly mystery until the end of the 20th century, when its true nature and origin were finally revealed. 

Part 3 then seeks to answer how one best gains access to these and similarly unusual speech communities. A central point I hope to make in the course of the talk is that no single approach (or field methodology) can promise to be successful. Rather, I will argue that flexibility, adaptation, familiarity with the local (cultural) terrain, and understanding one’s own personality traits are key to successful data gathering in the field. 

Part 4 will be an open-ended concluding discussion

TALK #3: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 3:30 PM, GAMB 151

"Creole Linguistics: Latest advances and Interface with Hispanic Linguistics"

Until recently, dialectologists and general linguists with an interest in Hispanic or Lusophone studies essentially ignored pidgin or creole languages (for example, Bozal Spanish, Palenquero, Papiamento, São Tomense, and so on), several of which may be key for an understanding of the evolution of Spanish and Portuguese, especially as regards vernacular registers (including vernacular Brazilian Portuguese, popular Caribbean Spanish, and so forth). 
    This talk first provides an overview of the rise of creolistics as a well-organized subdiscipline of linguistics from the 1980s to the present. In so doing, the study examines principal theoretical issues and major themes, and shows how several of these are of relevance to Hispanic and Lusophone linguistics. Explanations are offered as to why the two subfields were originally slow to interface with each other, and how and why this state of affairs has recently changed for the better. 
    Part 2 of the talk is devoted to a selection of contemporary research endeavors (2005-2012) that have either successfully interfaced Hispanic and Lusophone linguistics with pidgin and creole studies (or vice versa), or concentrated on creole speech areas where Spanish or Portuguese has historically had a significant impact. 

Talks sponsored by: The College of Arts & Sciences Programs in African American StudiesAfrican StudiesLatin American StudiesLinguistics, and Spanish, the Departments of Anthropology and