Naomi Nagy
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Linguistics at U of T

ROP 299, 2011-2012

TITLE OF RESEARCH PROJECT: Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto

OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY:
The Heritage Language Variation and Change Project (HLVC) examines usage and patterns of change in several heritage languages spoken in Toronto: Cantonese, Korean, Italian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Faetar (an endangered French-like dialect from Apulia). We look at intra- and interlanguage choices made by multilingual speakers (who comprise well over half the world’s population). Specific goals include:

  • document and describe heritage languages spoken by immigrants and two generations of their descendants in the Greater Toronto Area, contrasting grammars at various degrees of contact to homeland varieties and to English spoken in those communities.
  • develop a standardized framework for examining variation in different languages, which includes a quantification of “similarity,” so that degrees of similarity between grammars can be compared.
  • define the types of changes that occur in “ethnic enclave” languages more fully.

    DESCRIPTION OF STUDENT PARTICIPATION:
    Students will need to be fluent (ideally native speakers) in (at least) one of the languages being studied
    (Cantonese Korean, Russian, Italian, Ukrainian, and Faetar).

    Tasks will be selected from the following:
  • recruiting interviewing speakers to learn about their background, language attitudes, and language use
  • learning to use ELAN, a program for making time-aligned transcriptions linked to audio files! using ELAN to transcribe recorded conversations in the languages listed
  • finding examples of certain linguistic patterns (such as all examples of use of a certain grammatical case or a certain sound sequence)
  • preparing these examples for quantitative analysis by organizing examples into a spreadsheet
  • conducting research about the histories and social structures of these language communities in Toronto
  • producing webpages that describe Toronto's heritage languages

    Students will participate in research group meetings with other RAs, grad students and professors, giving them an opportunity to see many different phases of this large-scale project. They will receive training in all software and equipment that they need to use and may be invited to help develop aspects of presentations and publications related to the project.

    MARKING SCHEME:
Week 2
Draft description of specific methodology you will use
20%
Week 6 Short report (2-3 pages) of what the you have accomplished and what you have learned so far, as well as any recommended revisions to methodology 20%
Week 12 Response to the project – description of what you learned, what you found interesting, what didn't work… (3-5 pages) 20%
Ongoing Performance on ongoing tasks – details depend on tasks selected by you and supervisor 40%

email: naomi dot nagy at utoronto dot ca | Return to my home page