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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Conjunctions and Grammatical Agreement Add Dissertation
Author: Heidi Lorimor Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2007
Linguistic Subfield(s): Psycholinguistics; Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Arabic, North Levantine
Director(s): J. Bock
Abbas Benmamoun

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the factors involved in producing agreement,
using evidence from conjoined subjects in English and Lebanese Arabic.
Specifically, the goal was to test psycholinguistic and syntactic theories
of agreement by examining the relative contributions of lexical number,
notional number, adjacency, and linear word order in agreement with
conjoined subjects, and contrasting English agreement patterns with
Lebanese Arabic, which allows closest conjunct agreement with postverbal

Corpus data and sentence production experiments were used to test
hypotheses about the mechanisms involved in producing agreement. A search
of American English sentences from the World Wide Web revealed that
speakers often produce singular verbs with conjoined subjects (28% singular
verbs overall), but less often when the conjunctions involved animate or
plural nouns. To investigate these patterns experimentally,
English-speaking participants heard, repeated, and completed subject noun
phrases as full sentences, thus producing a verb. The experiment produced
results similar to the corpus search, with conjunctions involving singular,
abstract nouns eliciting more singular verbs than plural verbs.

In a second study involving both Lebanese Arabic and English speakers, a
picture description task manipulated the position of the subject relative
to the verb and revealed that singular verbs were much more frequent with
postverbal (versus preverbal) subjects and that lexically plural nouns were
stronger enforcers of plural agreement than conjoined singular subjects in
both Lebanese Arabic and English. Adjacency also played a role, as plural
nouns in furthest conjunct position did not enforce plural agreement in the
same way as plural nouns that were linearly adjacent to the verb. These
results indicate that notional information, lexical plurality, adjacency,
and linear (surface) word order play significant roles in the computation
and production of agreement. The results also shed light on the nature of
closest conjunct agreement and on the number of stages involved in
producing grammatical agreement.