Our very own Dr. Luis González will be discussing semantic roles today in a Ling Circle  talk at 3:30pm in Greene Hall 239. Hope to see you there!

Semantic roles: How do subject and direct object really work?

Why is it that that cute girl in your class might look like Anne Hathaway but Anne Hathaway will never look like that cute girl? Why Linguists propose the coolest theories all the time can be a sentence in English but *The coolest theories propose linguists all the time is not? Why Students fear tests is not a problem for theories that try to determine who/what the subject and the direct object is but Tests frighten students has been a headache for linguists since semantic roles were proposed in 1965? This presentation will answer these and many other challenging questions for linguistics. It will also account for exceptions to semantic role assignment in Dowty (1991), Davis (2001), Fillmore (1968, 1977), Gruber (1965, 1976), Jackendoff (1976, 1983, 1987), Primus (1999, 2012), Van Valin (2004), Wechsler (1995), among others.


Tell me a story and I’ll tell you where you’re from: dialect recognition using machine learning algorithms

Jerid Francom, Romance Languages

Friday 3/20 at 3pm

Greene Hall 528

Linguistic variation is a pervasive characteristic of languages. It occurs at all linguistic levels and is predicted by socio-demographic variables, time period, and geographical and political boundaries. Understanding how languages and language varieties differ has attracted much attention from public and academic communities, and for good reason –it reflects the unique ways in which humans interface the world and holds the key to understanding language’s place in cognition.
In this talk I explore language variation through a lesser-traveled path: machine learning. Focusing on Spanish-language variation, I provide results from a series of text classification tasks that suggest variation between Argentine, Mexican, and Spanish dialects, present in the ACTIV-ES Spanish-language corpus, can be modeled and used to accurately predict where a speaker is from based on word choices alone.


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Thanks to all who participated in the Linguistics Minor Reception–it was a great success!

Hilary Dick

We are proud to announce an upcoming visiting lecture by Hilary Dick entitled:

Possibility and Perdition: Ethical Self-Making in Talk of Migration

Tuesday, March 3rd at 5:00 pm

Museum of Anthropology

Reception to follow in the Museum



Through the analysis of talk among working-class people from a migrant enclave in Mexico, this paper explores the crafting and deployment of imaginaries of mobility across socioeconomic and geopolitical borders. I examine speakers’ engagements with a state-endorsed national imaginary that poses the integration of religious “tradition” and socioeconomic “progress” as imperative for full membership in the Mexican polity. This imaginary of moral mobility relies on a contrast between Mexico and the United States, in which Mexico is the land of tradition and morality and the United States is the land of economic possibility, but moral corruption. Working-class Uriangatenses use talk about migration to the United States to lay claim on ethical selves in the face of the moral peril posed not only by the possibility of moving to the “corrupting North,” but also by their potential inability to progress in Mexico. As I show, the discursive practice of ethical self-making in migration discourse is highly gendered, and, therefore, simultaneously helps enact speakers as certain kinds of gendered actors.


Professor Laura Aull and junior linguistics minor-English major Meredith Richardson are currently researching markers of scope of written arguments in English: how writers intimate the origin and breadth of their claims using specific words and phrases. For instance, they have found  phrases student writers frequently use that overstate the certainty of their claims and construct wide-reaching and topic-centered arguments. By contrast, experts show more of a balance of possibility and certainty and make more small-scoped arguments that engage existing views. Aull and Richardson will present their initial findings at the American Association of Applied Linguistics conference in Toronto, Canada in March, 2015.



We are proud to announce an upcoming visiting lecture by Dr. Glenn Martinez entitled:

From valuable to vulnerable: Heritage language health professionals and the ecology of language in health care along the U.S.-Mexico border

Thursday, February 19th at 5:00 pm

Greene 239

Reception to follow in Greene 317






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October 19-21, 2014 four WFU anthropology and linguistics students (Samantha Geary, Tyler Hollifield, Tripp Maloney, and Micah James) accompanied Prof. Margaret Bender on an ethnographic field trip to the Cherokee reservation in western NC.  Students met with language teachers, elders, and staff at the New Kituwah Cherokee Language Immersion Academy.  They learned about language-culture relationships in Cherokee and about the challenges and joys of Cherokee language revitalization.  They attended the annual Cherokee Indian Fair, where they witnessed a Miss Cherokee Pageant (much more creative and empowering than Miss America!), ate traditional boiled breads, studied cultural displays, and learned to get out of the way fast as an unusually heated game of stickball took place.  Despite rainy weather at the campsite, good spirits prevailed throughout!  This unique educational opportunity was sponsored by the Anthropology Department.





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Did you know that Papua New Guinea, which has only about 7 million people, has over 800 languages? Now you know.

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Find out here (these are must-knows)!

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