Measured Language

Measured Language: Quantitative Studies of Acquisition, Assessment, and Variation

Jeffrey Connor-Linton
Luke Wander Amoroso
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Measured Language
    Book Description:

    Measured Language: Quantitative Studies of Acquisition, Assessment, and Variationfocuses on ways in which various aspects of language can be quantified and how measurement informs and advances our understanding of language. The metaphors and operationalizations of quantification serve as an important lingua franca for seemingly disparate areas of linguistic research, allowing methods and constructs to be translated from one area of linguistic investigation to another.Measured Languageincludes forms of measurement and quantitative analysis current in diverse areas of linguistic research from language assessment to language change, from generative linguistics to experimental psycholinguistics, and from longitudinal studies to classroom research. Contributors demonstrate how to operationalize a construct, develop a reliable way to measure it, and finally validate that measurement-and share the relevance of their perspectives and findings to other areas of linguistic inquiry. The range and clarity of the research collected here ensures that even linguists who would not traditionally use quantitative methods will find this volume useful.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-038-5
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    THE GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY ROUND Tables on Languages and Linguistics (GURT) and their attendant published volumes of selected papers have historically offered seminal contributions to the field of linguistics; papers from GURT volumes are frequently referenced in journal articles and are often required reading for graduate linguistics courses. The continued relevance of GURT publications stems from their coverage over the years of the many different areas of inquiry that constitute linguistics. With topics ranging from language teaching and education to discourse analysis, technology, and language-specific research, GURT conferences draw linguists from around the world.

    The 2012 Round Table focused on the...

  5. 1 The Ubiquitous Oral versus Literate Dimension: A Survey of Multidimensional Studies
    (pp. 1-20)

    THE METHODOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS OF corpus-based linguistics have enabled researchers to ask fundamentally different kinds of research questions from previous research, sometimes resulting in radically different perspectives on language variation and use. Corpus linguistic research offers strong support for the view that language variation is systematic and can be described using empirical, quantitative methods. Variation often involves complex patterns consisting of the interaction among several different linguistic parameters, but in the end, it is systematic. Beyond this, the major contribution of corpus linguistics is to document the existence of linguistic constructs that are not recognized by current linguistic theories.

    Research of...

  6. 2 When Ethnicity Isn’t Just about Ethnicity
    (pp. 21-32)

    CORRELATIONS OVER LARGE DEMOGRAPHIC categories can be seductive. It is commonly found, for example, that women’s speech is more standard than males’. But does this say something global about females and males, or is it a guide to speakers’ use of standard grammar? Speculations about gender correlations have commonly relied on a view of women as upwardly mobile (Labov 1990), status conscious (Trudgill 1972), or socially vulnerable (Deuchar 1989). The fact that women commonly lead in sound change, thus having less standard phonology than men, has been said to constitute a “paradox” (Labov 2001). The problem, of course, is the...

  7. 3 Does Language Zipf Right Along? Investigating Robustness in the Latent Structure of Usage and Acquisition
    (pp. 33-50)

    EACH OF US AS language learners has had different language experiences, but somehow, we have converged on the same general language system. From diverse and often noisy samples, we end up with similar linguistic competence. How so? Do language form, language meaning, and language usage come together across scales to promote robust induction by means of statistical learning over limited samples? The research described here outlines an approach to this question with regard to English verb-argument constructions (VACs), their grammatical form, semantics, lexical constituency, and distribution patterns. Measurement and analysis of large corpora of language usage identifies Zipfian scale-free patterns...

  8. 4 Subjectivity and Efficiency in Language Assessment: Explorations of a Compensatory Rating Approach
    (pp. 51-62)

    QUANTIFICATION IN LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT is so pervasive that it seems a bit odd to reconsider what is now so commonly seen as the default way of analyzing and describing language proficiency and achievement. The currently standard quantitative methods of analyzing language assessment outcomes are a recent development relative to the much longer history of subjectivity, and are the culmination of a number of issues motivating a shift from hermeneutics to quantification in language assessment. The trend toward quantification began in the late nineteenth century, soon after a number of discoveries about interrelated phenomena in the physical world were hypothesized to...

  9. 5 Subgrouping in Nusa Tenggara: The Case of Bima-Sumba
    (pp. 63-78)

    THE AUSTRONESIAN LANGUAGE FAMILY is one of the largest and most diverse in the world, but despite extensive historical work by scholars over the past century, much of its internal structure remains poorly understood. The Bima-Sumba (Bi-Su) subgroup, consisting of roughly twenty-seven Central Malayo-Polynesian (CMP) languages (Lewis 2009), was first proposed in 1938 by the Dutch language officer S. J. Esser as part of an atlas of colonial Indonesia. Although it has since been repeatedly cited in the linguistic literature, the first paper to investigate Bima-Sumba’s validity as a subgroup was by Robert Blust (2008), who concluded that this particular...

  10. 6 Young Learners’ Storytelling in Their First and Foreign Languages
    (pp. 79-94)

    MANY FOREIGN LANGUAGE PROGRAMS at elementary schools (FLES), placing a strong emphasis on children’s development of oral communicative abilities in the target language as an instructional goal, are increasingly employing picture-book reading and storytelling as part of their classroom activities. Narrative speech requires a substantial transition in children’s language skills because narratives often involve “there-and-then” events as opposed to “here-and-now.” Narrative performance is also found to be related to children’s later reading performance (Griffin et al. 2004).

    There is substantial research on narrative development among young children in their first language (L1) (e.g., Bamberg 1997; Berman and Slobin 1994; Hickmann...

  11. 7 Measuring Quechua to Spanish Cross-Linguistic Influence
    (pp. 95-110)

    WHILE MUCH RESEARCH HAS been carried out to describe Andean Spanish (Cusihuaman 2001; de Granda 2001; Escobar 1978; Feke 2004; Hurley 1995; Lee 1997; Lipski 1996; Mamani and Chávez 2001; Manley 2007; Odlin 1989; Romero 1993; Sánchez and Camacho 1996; Zavala 2001; Zúñiga 1974), this work is the first to quantify the presence of a broad range of Quechua to Spanish cross-linguistic influence (CLI) features.¹ Additionally, this contribution is unique in its approaches to measuring speakers’ overall degree of CLI, with a wide variety of CLI features being taken into account. The quantitative methods described here may also be applied...

  12. 8 Speedup versus Automatization: What Role Does Learner Proficiency Play?
    (pp. 111-124)

    THE TRANSITION FROM CONTROLLED processing to automatized processing in L2 acquisition is characterized by moving from slow, effortful processing to quicker processing outside of conscious control. However, this has been difficult to operationalize since it is not reportable. The current work builds on Hulstijn, van Gelderen, and Schoonen’s (2009) attempt to operationalize and quantify the two. The distinction between automatization and speedup is important within the SLA field because it reflects a change in the learner’s mind.

    Phillips et al. (2004) reported that the more proficient the learner, the higher the level of automatization; however, Hulstijn, van Gelderen, and Schoonen...

  13. 9 Frequency Effects, Learning Conditions, and the Development of Implicit and Explicit Lexical Knowledge
    (pp. 125-140)

    FREQUENCY EFFECTS IN LANGUAGE are robust, but they interact in complex ways with other internal and external factors. An experiment investigated such an interaction between frequency, awareness (internal), and learning conditions (external) in adult lexical development. Participants were exposed to pseudowords and images under either incidental or intentional conditions and were then given a picture-matching task with subjective measures of awareness (Rebuschat 2008). We report two primary findings: first, frequency effects in lexical development are similar for implicit and explicit knowledge, consistent with theories of SLA proposing a single memory system for implicit and explicit lexical knowledge. Second, frequency effects...

  14. 10 The Differential Role of Language Analytic Ability in Two Distinct Learning Conditions
    (pp. 141-154)

    THIS PAPER EXAMINES WHETHER the role of language analytic ability in L2 acquisition may change relative to different types of corrective feedback provided in a communicative language classroom. Two groups of high school students in New Zealand (n= 18 in each group) that were learning French as a foreign language were subjected to different learning conditions while working on three communicative tasks over two weeks. In one group, learners were asked to self-correct following the teacher’s request for clarification whenever they committed an error in the production of the target structures; the other group received recasts as a type...

  15. 11 U-Shaped Development: Definition, Exploration, and Falsifiable Hypotheses
    (pp. 155-170)

    LINGUISTICS IS AN EMPIRICAL science; second language acquisition, as a branch of linguistics, is an empirical field. To some, this may simply mean that any theoretical claim must be based on actual data, such as learners’ linguistic performance. Others may believe that data must be quantified so that claims can be tested and statistically verified in virtual or conceptual replication studies (Hendrick 1990; Mackey and Gass 2005; van der Veer, van IJzendoorn, and Valsiner 1994). To still others, such as the philosopher Karl Popper, a critical requirement for empirical claims is not their verifiability but their falsifiability (Kogawara 1997). According...

  16. 12 Using Simulated Speech to Assess Japanese Learner Oral Proficiency
    (pp. 171-182)

    WE DISCUSS AND EVALUATE simulated speech (SS) as a testing methodology for assessing the oral proficiency of Japanese learners. SS responses are mostly conversational, spontaneous, and open-ended. SS testing is also topic-driven, with the examiner testing the subject’s prior knowledge and/or experience with the topic. SS exhibits several features of learner speech that are commonly used in measuring fluency; these include hesitation, fillers, speech burst length, silence, and speech rate. Current automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology is capable of extracting such information from speech. In this paper we discuss a Japanese SS test that was administered to 231 students from...

  17. 13 Keys to College: Tracking English Language Proficiency and IELTS Test Scores in an International Undergraduate Conditional Admission Program in the United States
    (pp. 183-198)

    THE DREXEL UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL Gateway Program is a year-long conditional admission program designed to prepare international students with low English proficiency for successful matriculation into Drexel University. Administered by the Drexel University English Language Center, the program consists of a foundational sequence of study including intensive English classes and standardized test preparation as well as selected credit-bearing university courses. In addition to progressing through this coursework, participants are required to achieve a standardized testing score mandated by the university for matriculation. In the first year of the program, which ran during the academic year from 2010 to 2011, thirty-two of...

  18. 14 How Does Foreign Language Proficiency Change over Time? Results of Data Mining Official Test Records
    (pp. 199-212)

    STUDIES INVESTIGATING CHANGE IN foreign language skills over time have explored a number of factors affecting skill loss, including achieved proficiency in the foreign language, the amount of time since foreign language input markedly decreased (e.g., since the conclusion of formal language training), and use of the foreign language during this period of reduced input. In addition to the general interest in identifying factors that impact the likelihood of losing foreign language proficiency skills over time, there is interest in exploring rate of loss to address language policy questions, such as the frequency with which foreign language skills should be...

  19. 15 The Development of Complexity in a Learner Corpus of German
    (pp. 213-228)

    NORRIS AND ORTEGA (2009) have argued that complexity is a multidimensional construct and that the measurement of complexity must therefore also be multidimensional. This study examines multiple measures of complexity in a learner corpus of German. The data were collected from learners of German (n= 70) in their first two years of language study at the university level. The learners completed two writing and two speaking tasks that were identical or similar over the course of a semester of study. The data were examined for complexity by subordination, complexity by coordination, and phrasal complexity. The research questions investigated whether...

  20. Index
    (pp. 229-238)