Laura Faircloth, The L2 Acquisition of Non-Native Phonemic Distinctions in Arabic by English Speakers
Arabic is a Semitic language spoken in the Middle East which is increasingly taught to native English speakers due to global political changes. Arabic is often difficult for English speakers to learn because of the new phonemic contrasts which require recognition of pharyngealization on consonants, such as the difference between /s/ and /sˤ/ (Odisho 2005). Saadah (2011) describes how L2 learners learn this distinction, which is often visible in the surrounding vowels. The L2 speakers differ significantly from heritage Arabic speakers and native speakers, showing the difficulty of acquiring these new phonemes. In this paper, I seek to examine if improved phoneme recognition during the acquisition of an L2 is the result of specific input in the L2 during classes or if the improved phoneme recognition is a result of increased language awareness. This was tested experimentally in a listening test with three groups of participants. All groups were tested on discriminating between English phonemes and phonemes that are allophonic variants in English, but are phonemic in Arabic, such as the voiceless alveolar fricative /s/ and the pharyngealized voiceless alveolar fricative /sˤ/. The first group was composed of Arabic students. The second group was comprised of linguistic students who should have grown in awareness of language, but without any Arabic-specific input. The third group was a control group of students who were not taking Arabic or linguistics classes. My experiment was a discrimination task completed twice, once at the beginning and once at the end of the semester. It tested pairs of sounds, where both sounds are allophones of different phonemes in Arabic but allophones of the same phoneme in English. The participants were asked to indicate if the nonsense words were the same or different. Filler sounds, such as differences that are phonemic in English and Arabic, were included as well as pairs where both sounds were the same. It was expected that the Arabic students would improve, while the linguistics students would improve slightly due to an increase in their awareness of language, and that the control group would not improve. Additional factors were exposure to foreign languages, the number of foreign languages studied, and travel abroad. I will also examine whether one phonemic contrast is more difficult than another or whether the surrounding vowels will impact recognition. Though complete analysis is pending, preliminary data shows that Arabic students got 77.3 percent correct, linguistics students got 69.9 percent correct, and the control group got 73.1 percent correct. The data also indicates that stimuli with the low back vowel /a/ were perceived correctly 87.5 percent of the time, while /i/ and /u/ were judged correctly 71.5 percent and 61.0 percent respectively. The type of sound in the stimuli was statistically significant, indicating that some sounds were more difficult for participants to perceive. These results show that language input is necessary for increasing L2 phonemic awareness, and the results of this study will hopefully provide clarity on how to teach these non-native phonemic contrasts to Arabic language instructors.
Michael Schilling, Language Attitudes of University of Cape Town Linguistics Students towards Codeswitching
The purpose of this study is to determine the attitudes of South African undergraduate Linguistics students and professors at the University of Cape Town towards codeswitching, the alternation between two or more languages in the same conversation; attitudes towards codeswitching between specifically English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa were elicited. The study addresses (1) how these attitudes vary in relation to the participants' attitudes towards Xhosa, English, Afrikaans, and/or other varieties that they speak, (2) how these attitudes vary between different fields of study, and (3) how these attitudes relate to the linguistic landscape of the University of Cape Town campus. The importance of this study lays in its focus on attitudes towards the phenomenon of codeswitching. It has potential to augment the existing literature and be used as a comparison with other, similar studies, such as Ramsay-Brijball's (2004) studies on Zulu L1 students' attitudes towards language at the University of Natal, Gibbons's (1983) study of Hong Kong students' attitudes towards codeswitching. Student participants' attitudes were elicited primarily through a matched guise technique, during which they answered a questionnaire comprising semantic differential scales responding to audio clips from South African feature films; they rated each clip on the same scales, and clips containing speech in English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa, and codeswitching between these varieties were included. The questionnaire was designed to indirectly elicit the participants' attitudes, while follow-up sociolinguistic interviews directly elicited those attitudes (Garrett, 2010). Similar interviews were conducted with Linguistics professors at the University of Cape Town in order to investigate how their attitudes vary with those of their students, and also how students have received the curricula on codeswitching. The questionnaires further collected information such as the student's gender, field of study, language varieties spoken at home, and language varieties spoken with friends, so that variation in the attitudes can be analyzed according to these factors. The data acquired through the above methods will further be compared with the results of a linguistic landscape study of the campus and the sociohistorical background of South Africa in order to shed light on the dispositions behind language attitudes.
Bilal Ashraf, Effect of Chronic Adolescent Nicotine Exposure on Anxiety in Adulthood
More than 80% of adult smokers begin smoking in adolescence. Adolescents are more vulnerable to nicotine reinforcement, making them more susceptible to dependence. Adolescent exposure to nicotine may cause critical changes in development of behavioral pathways, especially that of anxiety. The Light Enhanced Startle (LES) paradigm is a measure of reflexive anxiety. We exposed adolescent rats to nicotine (.15 mg/kg or .40 mg/kg) or saline and measured their response in LES in adulthood. We found that there was a significant increase in anxiety-like responses in nicotine exposed male rats, but not female rats. This may suggest that adolescent nicotine exposure has differential effects on the development of the anxiety pathway in males and females.
Oliver Phillips, Adolescence as a Unique Period of Vulnerability to Environmental Stressors: Age-Dependent and Sex-Dependent effects of Nicotine Exposure on Anxiety Utilizing The Light-Enhanced Startle Paradigm
This study utilized a rodent model of anxiety in which the defensive behavior of rats provides a measure of operational anxiety known as “Light-Enhanced Startle” (LES) (Walker & Davis 1997). The focus of the study was to explore age-dependent and sex-dependent vulnerabilities to the effects of nicotine in rats in addition to establishing the use of adolescent animals in the LES paradigm. The effect of a single first-time exposure to nicotine on anxiety in adolescent versus adult rats was measured which presented a statistically different pattern of dose response, but the percent changes in startle amplitude were not statistically different. Effects of gender were also statistically examined and produced statistically different dose response pattern. Broader interest of the project is in whether adolescence is a unique period of vulnerability to the effects of stress, including first exposure to nicotine. Additionally, the relevance and potential further directions of this research are also discussed.
Arthi Aravind, The Aftertaste of Memories: Capturing the Cultural Zeitgeist in Fiction
This project is a novel about the experiences of a girl in college. Some particular challenges it addresses include writing technological details (texts, IMs, etc.) in the prose without disrupting it, discussing the thoughts and concerns of "today's youth," and adding a dose of surrealness to the narrative. The cultural zeitgeist is reflected in these elements.
Aaron Barksdale, 20: A Novel
The novel Ulysses, by James Joyce, serves as the source text from which I have based the narrative framework of my novel. My novel shows the journey of a child becoming an adult, and is influenced by literary modernism and modernist authors such as Joyce, Woolf, and Faulkner. Modernist techniques such as fragmented narratives, stream of consciousness narration, non-linear transitions in time, and a blurred distinction between memory and the present appear throughout my text. My protagonist, Jude Gnomon, is on a quest, similar to Ulysses, to find his home, or a sense of identity and belonging.