Language Studies

Heritage Languages: Research, Documentation, and Educational Policy

Faculty Member: Maria Polinsky

The Polinsky Language Sciences Lab is a linguistics lab that examines questions of language structure and its effect on the ways in which people use and process language in real time. One of our primary areas of focus is the study of heritage speakers--those who grew up hearing or speaking a particular language but who are now more fluent in a different, societally dominant language.

China Biographical Database Project

Faculty Member: Peter Bol

Description: This research project consists of prosopographical, social network, and spatial analysis.  We are in interested in how Chinese social and political elites interact from the 7th through the 19th century.  Students are responsible for research on items (such as historical placenames) used for coding data, some database management, research on historical bureaucratic titles.  A reading knowledge of Chinese is required.

Building a Corpus of Spontaneous Speech in Tsez

We plan to create a corpus of spontaneous speech in Tsez, an endangered language of the Caucasus spoken by about 6,000 people, and three endangered Mayan languages. The project will involve collecting, transcribing and annotating the data in such a way that they could be used by other researchers. We will then compare these languages to spoken production from several heritage languages (Russian, Chinese, Avar, Spanish, and Mam) whose corpora will also be transcribed and annotated.

How Languages Deal with Requests, Especially within Mandarin Chinese

Our project explored how individuals communicate in task-oriented dialogues. Linguists have long studied stories and narratives, but some important features of language emerge only when speakers have joint intentions and share a common visual ground. Not only did we study how listeners recover linguistic representations, but also to what degree speakers and listeners align such representations using dialogue.