Linguistics Research

Faculty and graduate students in the Department pursue a variety of language and culture-related research topics.
Faculty research includes general and applied linguistics, empirical linguistics, corpus linguistics, language teaching and language acquisition, language and culture interactions, phonetics, language documentation,  morphology, syntax, computational linguistics, and sociolinguistics.

Our recent research studies addressed the phonetics and phonology of language contact, fieldwork methodologies, language teaching methodologies, Computer Assisted Language Learning, corpus linguistics, documentation of Media Lengua, Quichua and Spanish dialects, maintenance of Ukrainian, Chinese and Russian languages in Canada, grammar of Inuktitut, the Russian language of Canadian Doukhobors, and German morphology.

Graduate and Honours students undertake analysis of national and minority languages and linguocultures of Saskatchewan and Canada. Recent topics dealt with extracurricular activities in university language classes, language attitudes of Ukrainian speakers in Saskatchewan, maintenance of Mandarin Chinese and Russian in the families of immigrants in Saskatchewan, Doukhobor language and culture, language attitudes and ethnic identity of Iranian immigrants in Saskatchewan, non-verbal communication in aquatic environments,  discourse analysis of texts describing depression, language requirements of international students in Saskatchewan.

Faculty Research

Doukhobor Heritage Research and Maintenance Project is devoted to the studies of Doukhobor culture, religious practice and language. It also provides the community with tools of maintaining the Doukhobor heritage by providing audio records of religious services (molen'ia) conducted in Saskatchewan since 2010 and samples of spoken Doukhobor Russian.

Some results of the project have been inlcuded in RLST 255.3 Doukhobo Culture in Canada course taught by the principal investigator Veronika Makarova.

My work deals with how tense and aspect semantics are expressed in different languages and how they relate to syntactic structures, especially case and agreement.

At the moment, I am working on a study on the Progressive in Swabian, an Alemannic dialect of German closely related to Swiss German. While German is often assumed not to have a progressive construction like English, it can be shown that this is in fact not true. My research has shown that progressive constructions are not restricted to certain dialects. Furthermore, it can be shown that dialects closer related to Standard German have a higher and more varied use of progressive constructions than the Swabian dialect.

My other current project addresses aspectual and tense semantics in relative constructions in Inuktitut as spoken in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Relative constructions are not exclusively clauses in Inuktun and there are various constructions that fulfill the function of relative clauses. Since relative constructions are non-finite, tense marking may be different from tense marking in regular main clauses. I am especially interested in comparing tense and aspect marking in Rankin Inlet Inuktitut to the better-studied Eastern Inuktitut variants.

Bettina Spreng, PhD

My primary research interest explores how the phonological systems of extreme contact languages, often referred to as mixed languages, differ from or compare to those of more conventionalized forms of language contact. While lexical and morphosyntactic descriptions of mixed languages abound, and are often cited in the language contact and creole literatures, the details of their phonological systems remain largely unknown since impressionistic descriptions of contact language phonologies are often over simplified. A key strategy in my research is the identification and analysis of conflicting areas of phonological convergence in the sound systems from two or more languages. For analysis, I rely on acoustic measurements to describe the production aspect of such sounds while carrying out psycholinguistic experiments to describe how they are perceived cognitively. I approach these issues empirically and often make use of statistical analyses to describe phenomena which are often not available through impressionistic observations or lay outside current theoretical frameworks. While my research primarily focuses on Media Lengua and Quichua (languages of Ecuador), I am currently working colleagues on describing the phonological system of Michif (a Cree-French mixed language spoken in Canada) and Gurindji Kriol (an English Creole-Gurindji mixed language spoken in Northern Territory, Australia).

Media Lengua samples

My other projects include (1) a new method for measuring a specific phonological feature known as nasality and (2) discourse aspects of American Sign Language, specifically lengthening and disfluencies. Nasality is notoriously difficult to measure in the field; therefore, we have developed a method to simplify the collection of primary nasal data through a cost effective and accurate technique known as the Earbuds Method (paper link). We have collected nasality data from over a dozen languages and we have multiple projects in the works that make use of this method. 

Jesse Stewart, PhD