Linguistics Colloquium: MA & PhD student presentations

29/06/2021 - 14:00 - 15:30

There will be three presentations by the following students:


Sid Gordon

Title: Heritage Language English in Israel: How does it differ from the baseline?


Heritage Languages  generally show divergence from the baseline (the language spoken in the country of origin or by first-generation immigrants). Previous studies have shown that HL morphosyntax is particularly fragile, but less attention has been paid to HL lexical aspects.

In this study we compare the morphosyntactic and lexical abilities in adult HL-English speakers. Three groups of bilinguals living in Israel participated: a baseline group of native English-speaking immigrants to Israel (N=20), and two groups of native born Israelis – with one (N=23) or two (N=25) English-speaking parents respectively. An object-naming test was administered to measure lexical proficiency, while an auditory Grammatical Judgment Test measured morphosyntactic proficiency.  Spontaneous narratives were also elicited, and disfluencies, verbosity, and morphosyntactic / lexical errors were measured.

Results showed near-ceiling performance across the three groups in the morphosyntactic domain, while significant differences were observed between the baseline and the two HL groups in the lexical domain. This indicates that morphosyntactic divergences are not the hallmark of all HLs. We suggest that vocabulary divergences might be more salient in some HLs,  and  that morphosyntactic structures acquired in childhood, reinforced periodically in the societal environment, may be maintained at near-ceiling level because of the language’s ubiquity and relatively sparse morphology.  


Marah Jaraisy

Title: Language Change in Kufr Qassem Deaf Community: Intra- and Inter-Modal Language Contact


The deaf community of Kufr Qassem was relatively isolated from other signed and spoken language communities. This has led to the emergence of a local sign language known as: Kufr Qassem Sign Language (KQSL), and it remained uninfluenced by spoken and signed languages when it first emerged due to the isolation of the deaf community. In recent years, the social dynamics in Kufr Qassem has changed, leading to an extensive and more systematic contact with the national and more dominant sign language in Israel: Israeli Sign Language (ISL) – intra-modal language contact, and the surrounding spoken languages: Hebrew and Arabic – inter-modal language contact – mainly through mouthing frequency and patterns. In this thesis, I investigate the effect of intra- and inter-modal language contact on the sign language use in Kufr Qassem deaf communities by looking at linguistic behaviors and language dominance in KQSL monolinguals and ISL/KQSL bilinguals. Results show language shift among ISL/KQSL bilinguals in that they mostly use ISL rather than their local sign language: KQSL. Contact with ISL has also affected KQSL monolinguals signing. The influence from Hebrew and Arabic on mouthing frequency and distribution was found to be increasing in terms of mouthing frequency. Certain mouthing patterns were found to be based on lexical sign production and/or communication with interlocuters from certain linguistic backgrounds.


Iris Hindi

Title: TBA





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