February 26 – 27, 2021
Online via Zoom

All times are listed in Central Standard Time



Plenary Abstracts

Friday, February 26, 2021 9:00am – 10:00am
Awad Ibrahim
Race-ing Language, Language-ing Race After George Floyd: Hip-Hop and Black English as Symbolic Spaces of Investment

What does it mean to argue that race works like a language (as Stuart Hall, 1997, has contended)? Let us not anticipate a simple answer to such a difficult question, but especially in a post-George Floyd moment, an answer must be offered. Intentionally framed around this question, I intend to argue that race has its own signifiers and internal phonetic, morphological and syntactic systems. If this is the case, then I intend to explore: 1) this contention of race working like a language, 2) the direct link between race and language, 3) building on an empirical research, how Hip-Hop should be seen as part of a complex system of semiological languages, and 4) connect race and Hip-Hop and show how they are becoming symbolic spaces of identity and linguistic investment. The empirical research is about Black immigrants (continental Africans, Black Caribbeans and Black Latin and South Americans) and their social, cultural and linguistic integration in North America (U.S. and Canada). For Black immigrants, it seems, to become American is to become Black. This is as much about identity formation as it is about the linguistic norm we invest in. Language learning, I will conclude, is neither neutral nor without its politics of identity and investment. WORD!

Friday, February 26, 2021 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Acrisio Pires 
Bilingualism in Flux: Internal and External Factors in Language Change and Stability

Bilinguals for the most part maintain strong separation in the knowledge of the grammars and use of their two languages. Maintenance, transfer or emergence of new properties can arise differently across linguistic domains of their grammars, affected either by internal/linguistic factors or by extralinguistic mechanisms (second and third factors, in Chomsky’s 2005 terms).  In this talk I will discuss a case of bilingualism between Catalan and Spanish, characterized by the overarching minoritized status of Catalan among different co-existing bilingual communities in Mallorca, Spain. I will focus in particular on the morphosyntax of the clitic pronominal system, to address the cross-linguistic influences (or lack thereof) between the two languages in this domain. I argue that overlaps and mismatches in the grammatical properties of the two languages can have direct effects on maintenance or change in bilingual grammars. In parallel, extra-linguistic factors such as age of exposure to the two languages, language attitudes and linguistic experience can contribute to inhibiting or accelerating trajectories of change, yielding dynamic conditions for community language variation.

Saturday, February 27, 2021 9:00am – 10:00am
Enam Al-Wer
Dialect contact, focusing and feature complexity: Data from Amman

Focusing refers to the final stage in the process that leads to the formation of new dialects. In this stage we normally witness a relatively high degree of stabilisation of usage of emergent emergent linguistic forms. Research shows that different linguistic features can show differential rates of focusing, depending on linguistic complexity, among other factors (see Trudgill 1986, 2004, Britain 1997). For instance, in his research in the Fenland (eastern England), Britain (1991, 1997) found that the intermediate form [ɤ], in words of the STRUT set, was only beginning to focus three hundred years after dialect contact began. He cites six factors which are thought to contribute to the linguistic complexity of this feature, including phonological unpredictability of the original /u/ split that gave rise to the STRUT lexical set.

 In this presentation, I discuss a complex morphological feature from the newly-formed dialect of Amman. The feature in question concerns the conjugation in the imperfect of the two verbs ʼakal  ‘to eat’ and ʼaxad ‘to take’. Two basic patterns occur in the data: (i) forms with /o:/, e.g. /bo:kol/ ~ /bo:kil ‘I/he eats’; /bto:xid/ ~ /bto:xod/ ‘you/she takes’. (ii) Forms with /a:/, e.g. /ba:kul/ ‘I eat’, /bta:xud/ ‘she takes’. Traditionally, the input dialects only had pattern (i), the /o:/ forms, but the new dialect increasingly focuses conjugation with /a:/. This process however is considerably slower than focusing of other new forms in this dialect. I shall explore factors, both internal and external, that may explain the slower rate of focusing in the case of these verbs.

 The data come from a large-scale investigation of the formation of the Amman dialect (funded through Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship), which traces the formation of this new dialect from inception to stabilisation over three generations, spanning a period of approximately eighty years. The framework of analysis adopted is the ‘Variationist Sociolinguistic Paradigm’, as described in Labov’s trilogy (1994, 2001, 2010).

Saturday, February 27, 2021 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Jorge Rosés Labrada 
Mobilizing Legacy Text Collections: Communities, Training, and Research

In language documentation, the “Boasian trilogy”—which has come to be seen as the gold standard— refers to a grammar, a dictionary and a text collection. Grammars and dictionaries have received substantial attention in the literature over the last 30 years, with many discussions centering on best practices for their creation and on their role in language revitalization and maintenance efforts. Text collections, on the other hand, remain understudied. Yet for many communities, legacy texts—broadly understood here to include narratives, procedural texts, songs, etc. collected in the past—constitute invaluable sources of language and culture. In this talk, I focus on the role that legacy text collections can play in the cultural and linguistic strengthening of communities, in student and community training and capacity building, and in linguistic research. While drawing my experiences with several legacy text collections of South, Central, and North American Indigenous languages, the primary focus of the talk will be a case study on the mobilization of such a collection for Makah (Wakashan, Washington State, USA).