DSNA-20 & SHEL-9

5-7 June 2015, UBC Vancouver


Diachronic Phonology Workshop

convener: Donka Minkova

Discontinuous, innovative, and reinvented patterns of phonological change in English

One way of characterizing any phonological process is in terms of its longevity within the history of a single language. The terminus ad quem for some diachronic changes in English is identifiable: the First Consonant Shift/Grimm’s Law, I-Mutation, Homorganic Cluster Lengthening, etc. are examples of such discontinuous changes. For another set of processes it is the terminus post quem that can be established, e.g. Fricative Voicing, Long Vowel Chain-Shifts, Flapping, etc.; these are commonly described as innovations. Yet another set of changes appears to replicate, at least partially, earlier processes: such reinventions in English are Compensatory Lengthening, stress-related lenition as in Verner’s Law and initial dental fricative voicing, cluster simplification, functional stress shifting, etc.

All patterns of diachronic phonological behavior are modeled either on the basis of the phonetic, structural, or usage/cognitive conditions that give rise to sound change, or on the basis of the ‘external’ sociolinguistic circumstances that allow them to spread through the community or the lexicon. Current studies of observable and testable processes in phonology seek ways of reconciling the various approaches by exploring the relationship between phonetic, phonological, statistical, and sociolinguistic information. The recent (as of October 2014) special issues of Lingua, vol. 142, (April 2014) on usage-based and rule-based approaches to phonological variation, or the 2014 issue of Laboratory Phonology on the relationship between the origin and spread of sound change, showcase the importance of hybrid models of variation and change. Many of our diachronic descriptions and accounts, however, fail to integrate the different sources of information in a coherent way. Moreover, the relative significance of the already identified triggers has not been fleshed out in relation to discontinuity, innovation, or reinvention of change.

The ambitious goal of the Workshop will therefore be to identify, contextualize, classify, analyze, and hierarchize factors of rise and spread, and relate them to the longevity of the reconstructed patterns of change. Among the external factors, multilingualism (SHEL 9’s general theme) will be given special attention, both in early English, and in ongoing processes.

Questions addressed by the workshop participants can include, but should not be limited to, some of the following topics, preferably discussed in the context of specific case studies:

The Diachronic Phonology Workshop is envisaged to last for three hours with a break in the middle. The idea is to have 5 papers of 20-25 minutes each, allowing for members of the audience to move around freely and attend parallel sessions.

Abstracts of 150-300 words should be sent directly to minkova@humnet.ucla.edu. I need some indication of potential contributions, or at least a declaration of interest and a title before November 30 2014.

conveners: Alex Bergs & Susan Fitzmaurice

The uses of literary sources and methods in historical linguistic analysis

This panel explores the ways in which historical linguists regard literary texts in historical periods as evidence for arguments about language practices and language change in different discourse communities in a range of historical periods. Of course, traditional histories of English until the second half of the twentieth century tended to be informed exclusively by studies of the literary language of canonical (literary) texts from Johnson's 'Golden Age' to the high Victorians. In the third quarter of the twentieth century, the discovery of nonliterary written sources and the creation of accessible corpora for close linguistic scrutiny made it possible to explore language practices and language change as evidenced in a wide range of registers, both literary and nonliterary. The re-evaluation of nonliterary sources as linguistic data in turn has underpinned the turn in historical language studies away from the standard language histories to the investigation of 'language from below' from a historical sociolinguistic perspective.

A question for this panel in this context is what value do literary texts have as evidence in historical language analysis? How can the consultation of literary sources inform the study of the history of the language in light of the availability of diverse non-literary sources? Do these questions generate different responses depending upon the specific historical periods studied; for example, are literary sources more important for the study of earlier periods than later periods? To what extent can literary sources be incorporated into historical sociolinguistic studies?

Another question is whether literary analytical methods can be appropriated in the exploration and investigation of earlier periods in the history of the language. For instance, in historical pragmatics work, how far can literary historical analysis help to illuminate the role of genre in the history of English registers? To what extent can literary historical analysis be employed in the work of historicising reading practices?

Panel members are asked to consider the uses and roles of literary texts and/or literary analytical methods in their own work on the history of the English language.

Those interested in the workshop may contact Alex Bergs by 28 Nov. at abergs AT uos.de

SHEL Pedagogy Session

convener: Chris Palmer

Beyond the HEL Textbook

Following the tradition of past Studies in History of the English Language (SHEL) meetings, the 2015 SHEL-9 conference in Vancouver from June 5-7 will feature a pedagogy session centered on discussions of methods and materials in the History of the English Language course. This year’s theme, “Beyond the HEL Textbook,” invites a focus on those aspects of teaching HEL that necessarily go beyond what our best textbooks and workbooks offer.

Conference attendees wanting to formally participate in this session are invited to submit abstracts (125-250 words) proposing a brief presentation (approximately 15 minutes) on a pedagogical topic of their choosing that addresses the following question: How have you handled teaching a specific topic mentioned in an HEL textbook that needed additional supplementation, including the development of original resources and activities? Proposals that require shorter or longer lengths of time — e.g., a collaboration among two or more speakers debating the same pedagogical issue — are also welcome.

Pedagogical topics for submissions are open, but some suggested areas of focus include the following:

Abstracts and queries should be sent to Chris Palmer at cpalme20 AT kennesaw.edu no later than November 28th, 2014.

Sketch Engine Workshop

Presenter: Orin Hargraves

Sketch Engine is a corpus query system that has been used to construct dictionaries in many languages. It includes read-to-use corpora in over 60 languages, with billion-word corpora in all major world languages. It includes features that enable users to build their own corpora, or upload already assembled corpora for use in the query system. Sketch Engine allows you to see a concordance for any word, phrase or grammatical construction. One of its unique feature are word sketches, one-page, automatic, corpus-derived summaries of a word's grammatical and collocational behavior. Other tools include Sketch Diff, which analyzes the distinctions in usage between near synonyms, and distributional thesaurus information, which supplies a ranked listing of words whose contextual behavior is statistically similar to a target word.

Sketch Engine is widely used among dictionary publishers, including Cambridge University Press, HarperCollins, KDictionaries (Israel), Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Le Robert (France) and Shogakugan (Japan). The national language institutes of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, and the Netherlands, among others, use it for language research. Sketch Engine is also in use at universities around the world as a teaching aide and to assist in developing tools for the computational processing of language.

Attendees at the workshop will have full access to the corpora of Sketch Engine (normally available only by subscription). The workshop will provide an overview of the capabilities of Sketch Engine with a particular emphasis on its uses in lexicography. Attendees will have an opportunity to experiment with corpora in any of the available languages and to learn the various commands used to retrieve advanced corpus searches. Since many attendees of the workshop will already be familiar with the basics of Sketch Engine, the last half hour of the workshop will be used as a general information exchange in which users can trade tips, troubleshoot, and develop strategies for common problems in lexicographic research.

This is a software presentation. Delegates are free to participate, but are adivsed to bring their own laptop.

conveners: Felicia Jean Steele, Michael Adams, and Donna Farina

DSNA MOOC: The DSNA and Lexicography Education

Enthusiasm for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) has grown tremendously in the last five years, although the full potential for the course format has yet to be realized. Educational corporations, funded by venture capitalists, in the United States have praised the format’s potential as a "disruptive technology," but completion rates are generally low and corporations have yet to recognize their widely anticipated profits. Nonetheless, not-for-profit universities, particularly MIT, have successfully used MOOCs to extend their cultural impact. In the United Kingdom, a consortium of universities and other educational institutions, such as the British Library, British Museum, and British Council, have partnered together to offer courses. This model, which brings together universities and colleges with educational institutions who have not traditionally offered credit or credential bearing courses, suggests a path for professional societies who wish to extend their reach into public discourse about their fields.

Members of the DSNA know that public understanding of lexicography and lexicographers is not as accurate or as widespread as we would wish, even though dependence on dictionaries, in their printed and electronic forms, is nearly universal. Although the DSNA is an active and engaged professional society comprised of academic and professional lexicographers and publishers, we have few options for outreach beyond the efforts of our individual members. Members of the DSNA are currently in the planning stages of MOOC development, and wish to conduct a symposium session at the conference to solicit member feedback on our proposed syllabus and course design and to encourage further member engagement with the project. We also wish to discuss some of the economic issues related to any MOOC effort and the resulting credential (certificate of completion or professional development) that it might create for teachers or for potential future lexicographers. A MOOC would offer an opportunity to present our field to the public, to dispel myths about dictionaries and lexicography, and to extend the profile of the DSNA outside of our discipline.

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