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Friday, October 11 • 3:40pm - 5:30pm
*Withdrawn* (B1) Namboodiripad & Yu: “If it’s a bunch of English words glued together, it’s English”: Impressionistic identification of word-origins as a way to measure language boundaries

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“If it’s a bunch of English words glued together, it’s English”: Impressionistic identification of word-origins as a way to measure language boundaries

While many approaches to multilingualism and language contact have demonstrated that strict language boundaries do not necessarily exist for speakers, there is some evidence for the psychological reality of these boundaries from linguistic purity, shibboleths, and linguistic differentiation. Here, we develop a method to identify the types of information speakers use to classify linguistic subpatterns as language-particular. We asked speakers of a language which has heterogeneous subpatterns originating from a variety of “languages” (English) to name the origin of low-frequency or nonce words from the game Balderdash. Participants’ guesses converged: 84 of the 282 words had 70% agreement or higher, and the average accuracy of guesses about a word’s origin correlated with the level of agreement on origin, though most words appeared fewer than 10 times in COCA. These results indicate that subjective judgments of etymology are not random, but based on a combination of top-down and bottom-up linguistic knowledge.

Speakers
SN

Savithry Namboodiripad

University of Michigan
DY

Diane Yu

University of Michigan


Friday October 11, 2019 3:40pm - 5:30pm
EMU Ballroom


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