A strategic partnership for the study of Portuguese in multilingual settings

Author: Patrick Rebuschat (Page 1 of 2)

Call for papers : Linguística. Revista de Estudos Linguísticos da Universidade do Porto.

Linguística: Revista de Estudos Linguísticos da Universidade do Porto has recently published a call for submissions.

Linguística is a publication of the Linguistics Centre of the University of Porto (CLUP) and of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto, one of the founding institutions of HL2C.

About the journal:

The journal welcomes original papers in the field of Linguistics, and in other areas dealing with natural languages. Both fundamental and applied research perspectives will be considered for publication. The journal publishes research papers, research notes, critical reviews, news, and discussions, among others. The texts can be written in Portuguese, English, French, Spanish and Italian; papers written in other languages may also be accepted.

Please visit the journal website for more information.

  • Instructions for authors are available on this page.
  • Information on the editorial process, including the peer review process, is available here.
  • Published texts are freely accessible at the journal’s Digital Library.

Submission information:

The anonymized manuscript and any associated materials must be sent (in pdf or word format) to linguistica@letras.up.pt
Deadline for volume 17:  31/03/2022.

Apelo a publicação para LinguísticaRevista de Estudos Linguísticos da Universidade do Porto (uma publicação da Faculdade de Letras e do Centro de Linguística da Universidade do Porto).
A Revista publica anualmente trabalhos inéditos na área da Linguística. Serão igualmente considerados para publicação trabalhos provenientes de outras áreas desde que se debrucem sobre a linguagem e as línguas naturais, quer na perspetiva da investigação fundamental, quer na da investigação aplicada. Os trabalhos publicados podem revestir a forma de artigos, notas de investigação, recensões críticas, notícias e discussões, entre outros. São aceites para publicação trabalhos redigidos em português, inglês, francês, espanhol e italiano; eventualmente poderão ser aceites trabalhos redigidos noutras línguas.
Entrega dos textos: Os textos devem ser enviados em suporte informático anonimizado (documento word ou pdf) para linguistica@letras.up.pt. Para o volume 17, de 2022, os textos devem ser enviados até 31/3/2022.

Call for papers: Graduate student conference @ NOVA, XVI Fórum de Partilha Linguística

The Early-Career Cluster (Núcleo de Jovens Investigadores) at NOVA’s Research Center for Linguistics (CLUNL) has just published the call for papers for their annual graduate student conference (XVI Fórum de Partilha Linguística).

This is a wonderful opportunity for graduate students to share their research and to provide peers with feedback on their studies. The XVI Fórum de Partilha Linguística takes place on July 1-2, 2022 (online format); the event is integrated in NOVA’s Summer School in Linguistics 2022.

Abstract submission deadline: March 4, 2022.

For more information, please vist the organizers’ website  or email jiclunl@fcsh.unl.pt

Hector Foundation pledges 19M EUR to support educational research at Tübingen

The Hector Foundation has 19M EUR of funding to support empirical educational research at the University of Tübingen.

This significant funding will go towards the strengthening of the Hector Research Institute of Education Sciences and Psychology, one of the HL2C founding institutions.

The Hector Institute was founded in 2014 with a generous endowment from the Hector Foundation. The grant will help to strengthen the institute’s international visibility in the long term and secure its position as one of Germany’s leading educational research institutions.

Close to 80 scientists work at the Hector Institute, where they investigate and empirically validate the quality of educational offerings and educational processes.

Professor Ulrich Trautwein, Director of the Hector Institute, said: “Education is the most important resource we can pass on to the next generation. The generous grant will enable a new generation of scientific studies that will help to understand and improve educational processes.”

For more information, please see the press release. For more information, please visit the Hector Institute website or see the video below.

 

Heritage language teacher receives Portuguese Medal of Merit

Last month, Isabel Geyer, a teacher of the Camoes Institute’s extensive heritage language network (rede EPE), received the Portuguese Medal of Merit in recognition for over forty years of service to the Portuguese community residing in Germany.

The Medal of Merit of the Portuguese Communities (Medalha Mérito das Comunidades Portuguesas) was awarded by the Portuguese Secretary of State for the Portuguese Communities Berta Nunes during the annual language teaching workshop organized by the Camões Institute and the Portuguese Embasssy in Berlin.

Ms Geyer began teaching Portuguese as a heritage language on September 12, 1979, until she retired on November 30, 2020. Throughout this period, she served the Portuguese community in several German cities with exceptional dedication, merit and professionalism.

The Medal of Merit recognizes individuals who, regardless of their nationality, make a valuable contribution to strengthen the affective and cultural ties that bind all Portuguese citizens, living in Portugal or abroad.

For more information on learning Portuguese in Germany, please visit the following website or contact Rui Vicente de Azevedo. To read more about the event, please see the original news source on the Camões Institute website.

From left to right: Embassador Francisco Ribeiro de Menezes, Isabel Geyer, Secretary of State Berta Nunes, and Rui Vicente de Azevedo, Coordinator of Camoes Institute network in Germany.

LX Proficiency: New automatic proficiency classifier launched

The Camões Institute and the University of Lisbon have recently launched a new version of the LX Proficiency classifier, a computational tool that supports the classification of Portuguese texts on the scale of proficiency levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ​​(CEFR).

The LX Proficiency classifier was first developed in 2013 as part of a cooperation agreement between the Camões Institute and the University of Lisbon’s Speech and Natural Language Processing  Group (NLX), which is directed by Professor António Branco.

The classifier automatically determines the level of difficulty and readability of texts written in Portuguese, based on the CEFR levels. It can be used, for example, to aid teachers in the selection of texts for heritage or foreign language classes or to support the creation of more reliable items for Portuguese proficiency exams. This revised and improved version is based on a greater language corpus and more advanced computation tools.

This important resource is free to use and can be accessed at the PORTULAN CLARIN website, a repository for research infrastructure for the Science and Technology of Language. Please visit the following page to use LX Proficiency.

Launch of the British National Corpus 2014

Many congratulations to our colleagues at Lancaster’s Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS), one of the HL2C founding institutes, for the official launch of the British National Corpus 2014.

The British National Corpus 2014 (BNC2014, website) is a large collection of samples of contemporary British English language use, gathered from a range of real-life contexts. The BNC2014 contains millions of words of spoken and written English and is an exciting new resource for research and teaching on contemporary British English.

The BNC2014 is being gathered by Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press. It is the successor to the original British National Corpus, which was gathered in the early 1990s. By comparing the two corpora, researchers will be able to shed light on how British English may have changed over the last two decades. The BNC2014 is now available together with its predecessor the BNC1994 via #LancBox X.

The written BNC was official launched on November 19, 2021. Please see below for a short summary on the launch event. For more information on the BNC2014, please the CASS website or contact Dr Vaclav Brezina.

Celebrating the Written BNC2014: Lancaster Castle event

On 19 November 2021, The ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) organised an event to celebrate the launch of the Written British National Corpus 2014 (BNC2024). The event was live-streamed from a very special location: the medieval Lancaster Castle.  There were about 20 participants on the site and more than 1,200 participants joined the event online.  Dr Vaclav Brezina started the event and welcomed the participants from over 30 different countries. After the official welcome by Professor Elena Semino and Professor Paul Connolly, a series of invited talks were delivered by prominent speakers from the UK and abroad. The talks covered topics such as corpus development, corpora in the classroom, corpora and fiction and the historical development of English.

Please visit the CASS website for more information on the event, including slides.

Faculty positions at Lancaster University

Job opportunity at Lancaster University (Deadline for applications: 13 December 2021 – please share widely) 

Lancaster University (Psychology Department) is currently advertising two positions at Senior Lecturer/Reader level (US equivalent: Associate Professor). The search area is broad, including infancy and early development, using both behavioural and neuroscience approaches.

We have fantastic, shared research facilities for infant development in our Babylab, which covers the entire ground floor of our dedicated research building (see http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/babylab/), with several Tobii eye trackers, 4 EGI EEG systems, fNIRS, head mounted eye tracking, motion capture, BioPac, and an observation room, plus excellent technical support. Our dedicated administrator maintains an extensive database of contacts, and there is free parking for visiting parents outside the lab. We are organizing one of the largest infancy conferences in Europe every year (Lancaster International Conference on Infant and Early Child Development – LCICD, http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/lcicd/ ).

 Current research interests in the group comprise early language, social and cognitive development in typically and atypically (ASD) developing infants and children. Please see our research pages for more details: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/psychology/research/

Lancaster University is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the main UK league tables, and Lancaster has a high quality of life with beautiful surrounding countryside, good schools, and excellent transport links (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow 2.5h, Manchester airport 1.5h, all by direct train).

If you have any questions, you can email me (g.westermann@lancaster.ac.uk) or the Head of Department, Kate Cain (psychology.hod@lancaster.ac.uk). Full details are here: https://hr-jobs.lancs.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=A3553

HL2C Seminar: Acquisition of infinitival constructions in L2 Portuguese

Our next HL2C seminar will take place on Wednesday, November 17 from 12pm to 1pm GMT (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London). This talk is a joint initiative with Lancaster’s SLLAT Research Group.

Presenters:

Aida Cardoso (Lisbon)

Title:

Acquisition of infinitival constructions in L2 Portuguese by Spanish native speakers: A Feature Reassembly approach

How to join:

Our seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.

Abstract:

This talk discusses the acquisition of the Prepositional Infinitival Construction (PIC) as a complement of perception verbs by Spanish learners of European Portuguese (EP).

In Romance languages, the PIC (1) and the Gerund Construction (GC) (2) tend to occur in complementary distribution (Casalicchio, 2019). This is the case in EP and Spanish: Only the PIC is available (in the standard variety) in EP, whereas only the GC is available in Spanish. What is more, both languages make available other infinitival constructions that can also occur as complements of perception verbs (e.g., ECM).

1a.

O professor viu-os a ler a gramática.

the teacher saw-CL.ACC to.ASP read.INF the grammar

“The teacher saw them reading the grammar.”

1b.

O professor viu-os a lerem a gramática.

the teacher saw-CL.ACC to.ASP read.INF.3PL the grammar

“The teacher saw them reading the grammar.”

2.

Vi a Juan conduciendo una furgoneta blanca.

saw.1SG A Juan driving.GER a van white

“I saw Juan driving a white van.”

[Rafel 1999: 202 (44a)]

Crucially, the PIC and the GC share semantic and syntactic properties (both being analysed as small clauses): They both have a progressive aspectual value, and they are traditionally analysed as small clauses (Raposo, 1989; Rafel, 2000; Barbosa & Cochofel, 2005; Casalicchio, 2019). However, the progressive aspectual value has different morphological counterparts in both languages. In Spanish, it corresponds to a Gerund verb form and in EP to an aspectual head (the preposition a, ‘to’) plus an inflected or uninflected infinitival verb form (Duarte, 1992).

Following the Feature Reassembly Hypothesis (Lardiere, 2008, 2009), we predict that Spanish learners will have difficulties reassembling the aspectual features of the GC into the ones of the PIC due to difficulties identifying the contrasts in the respective morphological counterparts. Furthermore, we hypothesise that Spanish learners will perform better considering the PIC with uninflected infinitive than with inflected infinitive since Spanish does not make available complements with inflected infinitives, and consequently, the acquisition of such structures entails a feature addition task (namely, ɸ-features).

Three experimental tasks were designed in order to collect complementary data on the acquisition of the PIC: an acceptability judgment task (AJT), a sentence completion task (SCT) and a forced choice task (FCT). For each task, we tested a control group of monolingual EP speakers and three groups of adult Spanish learners of EP (formal instruction context) with distinct levels of proficiency: initial, intermediate, and advanced. In the AJT, we compared the acceptability rates of PIC with inflected and uninflected infinitive; in the SCT, the preference rates of the inflected and uninflected infinitive PIC with another infinitival complement only available in EP: the Inflected Infinitive structure; and, in the FCT, the preference rates of the inflected infinitive PIC with a non-standard structure (Accusative subject plus inflected infinitive) with similarities to the Exceptional Case Marking (ECM), a structure available in both languages.

The data from the three tasks show that Spanish learners struggle with PIC even in advanced levels of proficiency. Overall, we found statistically significant differences between the control group and all test groups (p<.05), indicating a lower acceptance rate of PIC by the latter. The AJT and the SCT show that Spanish learners prefer PIC with uninflected infinitives.

Furthermore, the FCT shows that all L2 groups tend to reject PIC with inflected infinitive in favour of the non-standard structure closer to ECM (a complement structure available both in the L1 and the L2). Additionally, in the corrections provided in the AJT, Spanish learners do not replace PIC by GC, but mainly by instances of ECM. We hypothesise that this difficulty in acquiring the PIC may result from a difficulty in reassembling the relevant features and from an L1 pre- emption effect (Iverson & Rothman, 2014): Spanish learners may unconsciously deem the properties of the ECM structure of their L1 as sufficient to account for the EP input.

References:

Barbosa, P. & F. Cochofel (2005). A construção de infinitivo preposicionado em PE. In I. Duarte & I. Leiria (orgs.), Actas do XX Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística. Lisboa: APL/Edições Colibri, 387-400.

Casalicchio, J. (2019). Gerunds become prepositional infinitives in Romance Small Clauses: the effects of later Merge to the syntactic spine. Probus 31 (1), 75-117.

Duarte, I. (1992). Complementos Infinitivos Preposicionados e Outras Construções Temporalmente Defectivas em Português Europeu. In Actas do VIII ENAPL. Lisboa: Colibri.

Iverson, M. & Rothman, J. (2014). Object drop in L2 Spanish, (complex) feature reassembly and L1 pre-emption. In: Judy, T. & Perpiñán, S. (eds.) The Acquisition of Spanish anish in Understudied Language Pairings. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Lardiere, D. (2008). Feature-Assembly in Second Language Acquisition. In J. Liceras, H. Zobl & H. Goodluck (eds.), The role of formal features in second language acquisition. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Lardiere, D. (2009). Some thoughts on the contrastive analysis of features in second language acquisition. Second Language Research 25(2), 173-227.

Rafel, J. (1999). Complex Small Clauses. PhD Dissertation. UAB.

Raposo, E. P. (1989). Prepositional infinitival constructions in European Portuguese. In O. Jaegli & K.J. Safir (eds.), The Null Subject Parameter. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

HL2C Seminar: Phonological categorization of L2 Portuguese

Our next HL2C seminar will take place on Wednesday, October 20 from 12pm to 1pm UK time (same as Lisbon). This talk is a joint initiative with Lancaster’s SLLAT Research Group.

Presenters:

Gabriela Tavares (NOVA University Lisbon), Andrea Deme (Hungarian Academy of Sciences & Eötvös Loránd University), and Susana Correia (NOVA University Lisbon)

Title:

Phonological categorization of L2 Portuguese by Hungarian native speakers

How to join:

Our seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.

Abstract:

Empirical observations in the classroom suggest that Hungarian learners of L2 European Portuguese (EP) have difficulties acquiring variable stress and vowel reduction – in particular the two EP reduced vowels [ɐ] and [ɨ] – since these are absent in the Hungarian phonological system [1]. These features are essential from an intelligibility perspective, since in EP stress is variable and lexically contrastive [2] and vowel reduction is found to be the main clue for stress perception in this language [3].

In this talk, we will present results of the first experiment of a larger project that seeks to develop pedagogical interventions that facilitate the acquisition of L2 Portuguese phonology. In this first step, we developed and empirically validated a forced-choice identification task to map the categorization of the EP oral vowels by Hungarian speakers in their native phonological system.

This presentation will report the results of this forced-choice identification task. Forty-six Hungarian native speakers (age range 18 to 45) took part in this experiment. One group (n=32) had no experience in learning EP; the other group (n = 14) consisted of learners of EP with approximately two semesters of language classes (n=14). A group with native Portuguese speakers with no previous contact with Hungarian (n=30) served as our baseline condition. Participants completed a forced- choice identification task that required them to identify different auditory tokens of the nine EP oral vowels, inserted in a [ɡV] context, among a set of real Hungarian words with a [ɡV]CV structure, presented orthographically in a grid.

We predicted that the ability of Hungarian native speakers to identify and discriminate contrastive EP sounds would depend on the phonetic proximity of EP vowels with Hungarian sounds [4, 5, 6]. Accordingly, we hypothesized that these speakers would categorize the unstressed vowel [ɐ] into /ɛ/, /eː/ or /ø/, and [ɨ] into /y/ or /ø/, as these are the closest L1 categories to the L2 vowels. We also expected some differences to occur after exposure to the target-language, and that these differences would be reflected in the categorization results. Results have partly confirmed the expectations, as [ɐ] was categorized into /ɛ/, but not into /eː/, and [ɨ] was categorized into /y/ and /ø/. A comparison of data in the two experimental groups suggests a learning effect for [ɨ], but not for [ɐ].

The data collected in this experiment shows overlapping situations in contrasts with [ɐ] and [ɨ]. According to the results, Hungarian speakers identify both non-native [ɐ] and [ɨ] into the single native category /ɛ/, which possibly causes discrimination difficulties [4]. As for [ɨ], considering that this segment is identified as a separated Hungarian category – /y/ or /ø/ –, discrimination of contrasts with this vowel won’t be problematic [4].

According to the above mentioned, an auditory perceptual training focused on tuning [ɐ] into a new category, separating it from /ɛ/, is expected to improve Hungarian speakers’ ability to perceive better this EP vowel. To test this hypothesis, we are currently designing a sequence of oddity discrimination tasks focused on the overlapping situations mentioned above. This perceptual training will be followed by Hungarian learners of L2 Portuguese within a 5-week timeframe.

[1] Markó A. (2017). Hangtan. In A. Imrényi, N. Kugler, M. Ladányi, A. Markó, Sz. Tátrai, & G. Tolcsvai Nagy (Eds). Nyelvtan (pp. 75–206). Budapest: Osiris Kiadó.

[2] Raposo, E., Nascimento, M. F., Mota, M. A., Segura, L., Mendes, A., & A. Andrade (Eds.) (2020). Gramática do Português. Vol. III. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

[3] Correia, S., Butler, J., Vigário, M. & S. Frota (2015). A stress “deafness” effect in European Portuguese. Language and Speech 58(1): 48–67.

[4] Best, C. T. (1995). A direct-realist view of cross-language perception. In W. Strange (Ed.). Speech perception and linguistic experience: Issues in cross-language research (pp. 171–204). Baltimore: York Press.

[5] Flege, J. E. (2003). Assessing constraints on second-language segmental production and perception. In N. O. Schiller & A. S. Meyer (Eds.). Phonetics and Phonology in Language Comprehension and Production: Differences and Similarities (pp. 319–355). Berlin: De Gruyter.

[6] Escudero, P. (2015). Linguistic Perception and Second Language Acquisition: Explaining the Attainment of Optimal Phonological Categorization. [Doctoral dissertation, Utrecht University, LOT Dissertation Series 113]. Repository: http://dspace.library.uu.nl/handle/1874/7349.

HL2C Seminar: Evaluating heritage speakers’ proficiency

We are delighted to kick off our HL2C Seminar Series for 2021-2022 on Thursday, September 30 from 3pm to 4pm GMT (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London).

Presenters:

Luiz Amaral (UMass Amherst), Alexandre Alves dos Santos (UMass Amherst), Flávia Cunha (Mt. Holyoke College), Thaís de Sá (UFMG), and Ricardo de Souza (UFMG)

Title:

Evaluating Heritage Speakers’ Proficiency: Oral Proficiency Rubrics and a Vocabulary Test for Portuguese as a Heritage Language

How to join:

Our seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.

Abstract:

Despite the increasing interest in heritage language (HL) acquisition and education, the area of HL assessment remains one of the least explored in the field. Several controversial issues seem to impact projects whose goals are to assess the language proficiency of HL speakers (HS). Some arise primarily from the reuse and/or adaptation of assessment tools originally created for L1 or L2 speakers (Kagan and Dillan, 2008; Draper and Hicks, 2000; Valdes, 1989). Others come from the perceived gap in the development of HL modalities, i.e., written proficiency might in some instances lag oral proficiency (Gatti and Grave, 2020). Some studies have explored and, in some cases, challenged these paradigms (Kagan and Friedman, 2003; Martin et.al., 2013), but there is still much to be done to understand the linguistic development of HS and to create the assessment tools needed by language programs.

With these needs in mind, our research group started a series of projects to study HL assessment looking into different language modalities and properties. In this presentation we describe two of our latest projects on (i) the creation of oral proficiency rubrics, and (ii) the development a computer-based vocabulary language test. The goal of the first effort is to compare two rubrics to evaluate oral production by HS. The first rubric is exclusively functional and evaluates how well participants performed each of the communicative tasks proposed. The second rubric in more comprehensive, including descriptors for vocabulary, grammatical accuracy, pronunciation, and communicative competence. We used the two rubrics to assess the production of 20 HS that participated in an oral interview based on different everyday topics. We show the results obtained by using these two different sets of criteria and discuss the implications for each one. The second project is centered on the development of a computer-based VLT for Portuguese as L2 and HL – Teste de Verificação Lexical do Português Brasileiro (TVLPB). This project is a collaboration with colleagues from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. After explaining how the test was created, we compare the vocabulary test scores with the scores from the oral interview from the same group of participants cited above. This is a first attempt to validate the TVLPB and see how vocabulary measures compare to other types of language assessment tools in heritage populations.

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