Restricted Research - Award List, Note/Discussion Page

Fiscal Year: 2021

248  University of North Texas  (84544)

Principal Investigator: Zavalina,Oksana Lvivna

Total Amount of Contract, Award, or Gift (Annual before 2011): $ 343,475

Exceeds $250,000 (Is it flagged?): Yes

Start and End Dates: - 2/29/24

Restricted Research: YES

Academic Discipline: Linguistics

Department, Center, School, or Institute: College of Information

Title of Contract, Award, or Gift: Using Cross Language Analysis to Investigate Factors for Differential Marking

Name of Granting or Contracting Agency/Entity: National Science Foundation

Program Title: N/A
CFDA Linked: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences


1.1.1 (SAM); IRB Protocol# IRB-20-206; A team of experts in Trans-Himalayan documentary and descriptive linguistics and in differential marking in these languages propose to team up with native-speaking Boro linguists and Dimasa linguist-in-training (Langthasa) and computational linguist Alexis Palmer to create IGT and a derivative grammatical sketch and word list for Dimasa. Dimasa (dis) is a Trans Himalayan language spoken primarily in Assam state, India with about 137,000 native speakers. It is one of three closely related Bodo-Garo languages, the other two being Boro (brx) with 1.5 million speakers, and Kokborok (trp) with 970,000 speakers. The documentary process will be enhanced by four activities: (1) workshops for cross-language comparison of IGT between Dimasa for which description is needed and Boro for which description is more developed; (2) creating enhanced IGT by adding to the traditional 5-line annotation (transcription, morpheme breaks, morpheme gloss, word gloss, free translation) with additional annotations for semantic factors that might trigger differential marking (DM) and creating a replicable and scalable process for this using: (a) existing software (FLEx and ELAN); (b) guiding native-speaker linguist-in-training analysis with an annotation manual for DM triggers; writing python scripts for combining FLEx and ELAN XML to comparable code to run queries on correspondences between morphology and DM triggers; (3) Check and improve analysis through metagrammar discussions by the community rather than non-speaker deductions based on single texts or limited corpus. The intellectual merit lies in the expertise of the team, the potential to discover related factors triggering DM in Trans-Himalayan, the testing of new methods of enhancing morphological annotation and training native-speakers in annotation and data elicitation. Quantitative and qualitative improvements can be made to documentary and descriptive methods if native-speaker linguists are given the tools to access intuitions. Our documentary methods have been for the outsider, the non-speaker. It is now necessary to create methods responsive to the needs of the speaker-linguist. Much of the morphosyntactic documentation for Indian languages consists of translated clauses from elicitation schedules. Yet speaker-communities desire richer documentation - documentation that preserves and provides access to cultural and linguistic heritage and reflects their understanding of grammar. There are many linguists-in-training from these communities that would benefit from methodologies we propose so that they can create IGT and can guide analysis through their own commentaries on how grammar interacts with information and discourse structure. The wide dissemination of our proposed methodologies will potentially improve and increase documentation Indian languages and can be adapted for native-speaker-guided language documentation and description elsewhere. In addition, with this project, we will provide training and research opportunities for UNT students, both graduate students and undergraduates. A documentary collection of Boro and Dimasa will be archived at UNT's CoRSAL for long term preservation and access. All the Python-based tools we develop will be accessible at GitHub. Speaker- communities will be provided print and soft copies of relevant materials as requested. Two speakers of indigenous languages will receive training in documentary linguistics and linguistic analysis as well as in working in research teams on a US university campus.

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