The research profile area 'Language Diversity in the World' is home to several PhD-students. They are from different disciplinary backgrounds and are working on a variety of languages and topics.
Daan van de Velde
Prosody of Dutch Cochlear Implant Users
Supervised by prof. dr. Niels Schiller, prof. dr. Vincent van Heuven, Daan van de Velde is doing research on the acquisition of prosody by Dutch children wearing a cochlear implant (CI). A CI is a device enabling people suffering from sensorineural hearing loss to regain their hearing to some extent. This is done by directly stimulating the auditory nerve electrically, while in a normally hearing ear the nerve celles are excited acoustically (i.e., by air pressure variations). Although performances on language tests by CI wearers, depending on many factors such as age of implantation and amount of residual hearing, can be remarkably good, important speech parameters, of which mainly intonation, are poorly processed by the device. His research is concerned with assessing to what extent CI wearing children, in comparison to normally hearing children, can perceive and produce intonation and to discover what causes the differences, or, lack of differences. This is done by systematically transcribing recordings of spontaneous speech by these groups. In the end, this may lead to recommendations on how to improve the implant's speech processor.
Information Structure in Welsh
The aim of the project 'Information structure in Welsh' is to provide new insights on diachronic syntactic change by analyzing the information structure and syntactic variation in the extensive sixteenth-century Welsh chronicle by Elis Gruffydd. This chronicle contains an unpublished ‘History of the World’ relating interesting tales from the creation of the earth to private conversations of Henry VIII’s Welsh servants and his wives in Tudor times. By bringing in a large corpus of so far uninvestigated Welsh material from the crucial transition period this multi-dimensional project will contribute to ongoing research on Welsh syntax and on linguistic theories and mechanisms of language change in general.
Mulugeta Tarekegne Tsegaye
Plural as Value of Cushitic Gender: A Psycholinguistic Study
It has been noted that gender and number are related in many Cushitic languages. Some Cushitic languages have three values for gender. The third value, beside feminine and masculine, is known as “plural” gender (See Mous, 2008). The agreement pattern of this “plural” gender corresponds to that of the 3rd person plural. Mous (2008) argues that this gender value is a proper gender feature. Corbett (see, Corbett and Hayward (1987), Corbett (1991, 2005, 2006), on the other hand, analyzed the gender system of Cushitic languages as two valued (masculine & feminine) and the third value as part of number feature. The idea is to investigate these two contending hypothesis by applying a psycholinguistic method known as “the picture-word interference paradigm” to Cushitic languages.
Voices on Birchbark: Reconstructing the Pragmatics of Old Russian Birchbark Letters
This project is concerned with medieval Russian texts written on birchbark. More specifically, a recently adopted approach to so-called communicatively heterogeneous letters is pursued, in which the structure of the text is acknowledged to consist of separate discourse units, each with its own referential perspective. This phenomenon deserves a more systematic and comprehensive treatment, starting from the corpus of birchbark texts, and approaching these texts in the light of general pragmatic theories. The research project may thus contribute to a more fundamental understanding of questions in the general field of pragmatics, and more specifically of issues such as deixis and (co-)referentiality.
Jaap Kamphuis (2015)
New Perspectives on Slavic Verbal Aspect
Dialects Entangled: Language Contact Between Albanian and Southern Italian Dialects