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Voice Quality

By John H. Esling, Scott R. Moisik, Allison Benner, Lise Crevier-Buchman

Voice Quality "The first description of voice quality production in forty years, this book provides a new framework for its study: The Laryngeal Articulator Model. Informed by instrumental examinations of the laryngeal articulatory mechanism, it revises our understanding of articulatory postures to explain the actions, vibrations and resonances generated in the epilarynx and pharynx."

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Let's Talk

By David Crystal

Let's Talk "Explores the factors that motivate so many different kinds of talk and reveals the rules we use unconsciously, even in the most routine exchanges of everyday conversation."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Construction of Topological Space Add Dissertation
Author: Martin Thiering Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Alberta, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2007
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics;
Director(s): Claude Vandeloise
John Newman
Sally Rice

Abstract: Topological spatial relations are presumably speaker-neutral and objective. This thesis takes issue with this assumption and argues that the construction of topological spatial relations is rather subjective, contextualized and perspectivized. In order to give evidence for this, this dissertation surveys the conceptualization of topological space and the lexicalization and distribution of the various meaning components that go into spatial description. As I look at the effects of and interaction among language, cognition, and perception in a variety of languages, I challenge the idea that there are semantic universals.

The language at the center of my dissertation is the Cold Lake dialect of Dene Suline (Chipewyan), a polysynthetic Athapaskan language spoken in the Subarctic region of Alberta (Canada). I compare this language with an agglutinative language, Upper Necaxa Totonac (Mexico), as well as various Indo-European languages (English, Norwegian, German).

To gain natural language data, I have drawn on two elicitation tools developed at the MPI in Nijmegen, the Topological Relation Markers and the Caused Position test. The first test consists of 71 simple black-and-white drawings of various objects, e.g., a cup on a table. Participants are asked to react to the prompt 'Where is object X?'. The second test consists of 46 videos in which the location of an object is manipulated with or without showing the agent. In addition to these tests, I have developed the Spatial Categorization Elicitation tool that consists of 95 video clips showing static or dynamic relationships between objects.

The results of my dissertation support a distributional and only partially compositional view of semantics. Moreover, the various meaning components that go into the encoding of spatial description in many languages are hard to pinpoint to a single morpheme or word. Moreover, for speakers of some
languages, especially Dene, seemingly static and objective scenes require morphosyntactic devices which signal perspective, level of specificity, motion, causation, and other ‘non-spatial’ meaning components.