LING3099 - Special Projects in Linguistics

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This course initiates undergraduate students into research in Linguistics, and is an approved substitute for the HUMN3099 Caribbean Studies Project. LING3099 specifically enhances understanding of the nature of research in general and Caribbean linguistics research in particular. Students are expected to develop skills at identifying and defining problems, selecting appropriate approaches to research, and designing and executing research programmes across the broad spectrum of possibilities in Linguistics. The primary emphasis is on practical exercises, workshop and seminar presentations. Final Assessment is by one 5,000- 8,000-word research paper. Many of the projects are original in topic and focus, and provide valuable insight into languages and linguistics in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 14 of 14
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    Variation in the Pronunciation of Some Trinidad and Tobago Place Names: A Study of Language Variation
    (2021-05-29) Moore, Daniell
    Due to the varied sociolinguistic history of Trinidad and Tobago and a large number of place names within Trinidad and Tobago of many linguistic origins, there are many variations of pronunciations of place names among inhabitants of the country. Because of this discovery and observation, and because this area has never been researched before, it is important to conduct such a study, as well as raise awareness of this area. This study seeks to examine the reasons why people pronounce certain place names differently within Trinidad and Tobago. Data collection contained primary data sourced via questionnaires, observations and interviews from University students and family members. On the other hand, secondary data came from articles, journals and books by academics and researchers as well as an interview with a YouTube vlogger who played the role as a reliable source. Furthermore, place names were chosen based on social geography as related to population density, as well as general familiarity as seen through traditional news media and social media news commentaries. The data were analysed using Labov’s theory, and Hickey’s (2003, 2007/2008) model of language change and variation, with some elements of phonological variation. Influences such as linguistic, cultural, social and historical features were instrumental in highlighting and understanding the many diverse variations of pronunciations of place names by people within the country. With regard to examining the reasons why people pronounce certain place names differently within Trinidad and Tobago, they included interlocked/interwoven sociolinguistic co-variables such as education, socio-economic class, environment, family and community upbringing, as well as heritage language influences and background, reading pronunciations, and many more. The study is significant with regard to showing the diversity of pronunciation of place names by people within Trinidad and Tobago, as well as adding value to Trinidadian English Creole, Tobagonian English Creole, and Trinidad and Tobago English. This research has not only shown, but proven, that many variations of pronunciations of some Trinidad and Tobago place names by all peoples are accepted and acceptable, even by outsiders contributing to language change in progress. The research also shows any sort of bias, claims, reservations and dispositions by some people that variations of pronunciations of some Trinidad and Tobago place names are wrong or misinterpreted or false has been refuted and proven wrong.
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    Sowing Social Synonyms: The Influence of Age, Ethnicity and Social Networks on Lexical Choice for Flora Items in Northern Trinidad
    (2024-05-24) Phillip, Ariana; Ragoonanan, Rhianna; Seepaul, Chelsea
    Because Trinidad and Tobago is such a culturally and thus linguistically diverse nation, there are many articles about the sociolinguistic situation of the country, with a focus on Trinidadian English Creole and Trinidadian French Creole (Patois). There are also some studies on how social variables like age and education affect citizens’ use of these languages. However, the studies that focus on Trinidadian Bhojpuri (Hindustani) generally have not considered the intersection between lexical variation and choice (except for those by Regis, for Dougla-Trinidadians), and language attitudes and context. To fill this gap, using French Creole, Bhojpuri, English and English Creole terms, this study focuses on variation in lexical choices for four flora items in Northern Trinidad in relation to age and ethnicity. An online questionnaire was distributed to 60 residents of this region, who were instructed to pass it on to two other residents, resulting in the collection of only 100 responses, rather than 180. The data were used to discover trends in their lexical choices, by analysing their responses from the perspective of their ages and ethnicities, together with the frameworks of audience design and social network theory. Generally, it was discovered that the Indo-Trinidadians who responded to the questionnaire, tend to use Bhojpuri variants, such as baigan and bandhania, while Afro-Trinidadians in the group use French Creole-origin ones, like chadon beni. That being said, some terms like baigan, chadon beni, and zaboca appear to be popular among the population sample regardless of ethnicity, suggesting that they are now fully ingrained in Trinidadian English Creole lexicon. The moribundity of Patois and Bhojpuri was also confirmed, because of English dominance, especially due to the increasing prevalence of social media among the younger generations. Hence, further studies should be conducted to examine the influence of social media on lexical choice in Trinidad, specifically between English and English Creole terms.
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    Ou ka palé Patwa? A Study of Surviving Traditional Domains of Patois Usage in Paramin Village, Trinidad
    (2020-05-01) Benjamin, Nicolette, Henry, Treverne, Sookhai, Nicole
    This research project expounds on the lexicon of the surviving traditional domains of Trinidadian French Creole (Patwa/Patois) regarding the folktales, proverbs, jokes, and riddles that are in use among the surviving Patois speakers of Paramin Village, Trinidad. The purpose of this study is to aid in the preservation of Trinidadian Patois by exploring, documenting and adding to existing data of this endangered language within these traditional domains. This study is based on a collection of 9 proverbs, 6 folktales, and 2 jokes through the employment of two focus groups, an interview as well as secondary sources. Findings of this study indicated that the Patois speakers of Paramin Village were knowledgeable of the linguistic practices of folktales, proverbs and jokes in Trinidadian French Creole. However, they were unfamiliar with riddles in Patois. This project is anticipated to be effective in building a greater awareness of Trinidadian French Creole within these linguistic practices as this endangered language plays an integral part in the rich and vibrant culture of Trinidad. This study can also inspire future research in the linguistic domain of language preservation of other endangered languages.
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    The Rise and Fall of French Creole in Trinidad with Special Mention of Patois Retentions
    (2020-05-01) Bridgemohan, Rashtee Amelia
    French Creole is a language that has been widely studied in the Caribbean by scholars such as Mervyn C. Alleyne and Michel DeGraff (Reid 2012). Many countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and Haiti have their own distinct variety of French Creole with the language being an official language in the Haitian territory. However, unlike St. Lucia and Haiti where French Creole is thriving, the language is severely endangered on the island of Trinidad. French Creole was once the lingua franca of the island, so why is this language now endangered? Over time from the mid twentieth century to present day, the language has lost its prevalence in society. This research project aims to investigate two main research questions: – How or why the language lost its status as a language of wider communication on the island as well as if there are any lexical retentions from the Patois language known to the younger generation aged 18-40. In the small coastal town of Cedros, the language of Patois was once spoken as the common tongue for many of the town’s inhabitants. Today, only a handful of elderly population have retained the language, many choosing not to share or transmit the language with their children and grandchild due to negative attitudes towards the language which emerged even more in the mid-twentieth century. For this research project, the researcher was fortunate to interview a pair of siblings who shared their knowledge or lack thereof of the Patois language. This study follows a mixed methodology as interviews and questionnaires were used to gather data. The interviews provided insight into language attitudes whereas the questionnaires provided insight into language retention. It should be noted that this study does not provide any solutions to language preservation or revitalization. This study falls under the category of sociolinguistics and focuses mainly on language retention and language attitudes.
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    A Synchronic and Diachronic Analysis of French Creole Tense, Mood, and Aspect Markers in Trinidad and Tobago, and other Selected Caribbean Territories
    (2023-05-14) Lewis, Mackala
    Some French Creoles within the Caribbean, like many other Creoles within the region, are relatively under-researched, and as such, can sometimes be viewed as only being one language with little variation or few differences despite being spoken in several territories. In Trinidad and Tobago, the French Creole spoken is considered to be an endangered variety, although there are currently attempts being made to document and ultimately revive the language by individuals like Nnamdi Hodge and Jo-Anne Ferreira (Belle). Despite there being literature available where the focus is a comparative analysis of French Creoles, Trinidadian French Creole (TFC) is hardly ever included in these comparisons, and the Tense, Mood, and Aspect Markers of TFC have hardly ever been investigated with a brief mention in a relatively recent two volume atlas by le Dû and Brun-Trigaud (Hazaël-Massieux). In 1869, John Jacob Thomas published the first ever book on the grammar of TFC, and, by extension, was the first ever grammar where a French Creole was the focus. This book was written when French Creole was the lingua franca of Trinidad, and thus, it is necessary to investigate whether any changes have taken place from then to the present-day. Data were collected from current TFC speakers, where it was determined that the TMA markers have remained largely the same. When looking at Haitian Creole and St Lucian French Creole, Valdman and Carrington’s works were used as a point of comparison, respectively. In observing the TMA markers that exist in TFC as compared to Haitian Creole (Kreyòl) and St Lucian French Creole (Kwéyòl), it was discovered that the TMA markers of TFC and St Lucian Kwéyòl share greater similarity, which is part of the basis of their classification as Lesser Antillean French Creoles.
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    Bush versus Stush: Linguistic Stereotypes in Trinidad
    (2016-05-10) Thompson, Theron E.; Wright, Kristin
    Perceptual Dialectology (PD) is the branch of folk linguistics that deals with the regional distribution from the point of view of non-specialists (the “folk”). This study, Bush versus Stush: Linguistic Stereotypes in Trinidad, aims to build upon this premise by juxtaposing these perceived dialectal boundaries and actual (linguist-defined) dialectal variation variables so as to analyse whether or not they correlate. To do so, how people describe language variation, the geolinguistic stereotypes that exist and the linguist-demarcated isoglosses of Trinidad must be understood so as to answer the questions of “What are the Perceptions of Language variation in Trinidad?”. As nothing of its kind has ever been performed in Trinidad, this study intends to pioneer the field of PD regionally, and hopefully to inspire other studies of its kind. The findings revealed intrinsic links between perceived language variation and geographical location, language attitudes and stereotypes, perceived socio-economic class and language variation and ethnicity and stereotypical language use.
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    An Investigation into the Attitudes towards Trinidadian French Creole in the Education System
    (2021-05-28) Joseph, Carmen; White, Lee Ann
    The various research projects done on Trinidadian French Creole (TFC) have focused mainly on areas such as sociolinguistics, sociohistorical linguistics and structural features of the language, but not on how language attitudes within the education system have impacted and can impact the revival of this endangered language variety. In order to efficiently evaluate this impact of language in education, the attitudes towards French Creole (FC) within The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine must be analyzed thoroughly. Therefore, this research aims to analyze the importance of language attitudes, and how they affect the language revitalization of TFC, by evaluating UWI, St. Augustine's French-lexicon Creole courses and their contribution towards the possible revival of the language. This study's analysis has been achieved through the use of the grounded theory methodology because of its qualitative and systematic analysis. Purposive sampling was used as five past and present lecturers were interviewed and forty questionnaires were distributed through online platforms. These interviews were used as secondary data which produced concepts of language in education, language attitudes, language awareness, cultural teaching, cultural heritage, Creole events, field trips, and social identity, through the use of axial coding. These concepts were used in the analysis of the questionnaires which were analyzed as the primary data as it held the core phenomenon of the study. The phenomenon guided the study to produce the theoretical outcome. The results produced from both the primary and secondary data showed that language awareness through the education of TFC contributed to the cognitive development of students' emotional perception and motivation towards the revitalization of TFC. Therefore, the cognitive element of the students' language attitudes played the most significant role in influencing the students' connection to TFC and their subsequent revitalization efforts.
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    A description of the copular clause in Trinidadian French Creole based on Higgins (1979)
    (UWI, 2016-05-10) Bisnath, Felicia
    This study describes the copular clause in the variety of Trinidadian French Creole (TFC) spoken in Paramin using Higgins’ (1979) taxonomy of copular clauses. Higgins’ taxonomy identifies four classes based on syntactic and semantic criteria. Such documentation is important since TFC is an endangered heritage language with a 146-year-old grammar that does not treat with copular clauses comprehensively and cohesively. The study aimed to determine the distribution of the equative, attributive and locative copulas attested in Creole languages and to determine the semantic properties of the clauses studied. This was done with the help of two native speaker consultants and one non-native speaker in a methodology that involved reverse translation elicitation, creation of a novel testing schedule to determine the semantic properties of the clauses under study based on English tests proposed by Higgins (1979), Mikkelsen (2011)and Niimura (2007), and construction and introspection elicitation. The schedule included the following tests: subject-complement inversion, vini-replacement, alternation with sé-clefts and embedding under a propositional verb without a copula. The study found four forms occupying the position of the copula, /se/, /sete/, ø and /te/, but posits two copular forms. /se/ is the equative copula with the variant /sete/ found with NP predicate complements in all of Higgins’ classes and ø the locative and attributive forms found in the predicational class only. /te/ is analysed as the pre-verbal anterior marker, and /sete/ as a bimorphemic combination of /se/ and /te/. Additionally, the study found that predicational, identificational, and specificational clauses can be identified based on their responses to the four tests used in the study. Predicational clauses pass vini-replacement and embedding under a propositional verb without a copula, ICs fail subject-complement inversion and embedding, and SCs pass subject-complement inversion and alternation with sé-clefts. The study also raised methodological issues in studying the semantic properties of copular clauses in French Creoles and endangered languages.
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    The patterns of changing rhoticity in Trinidadian English among students of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus
    (UWI, 2018-05-06) Carrington, Justin
    Although there are several studies that have been conducted within the Caribbean with regard to varieties of English, on an international scale, compared to the Caribbean in general, Phonological studies of other varieties of English are far more numerous. As a result, linguistic profiles have been built among these varieties. Generally speaking, the feature of rhoticity has been well documented with respect to rhotic and non-rhotic dialects. After previous conclusions were made that the Trinidadian variety of English is clearly non-rhotic, the argument now is that Trinidadian English is showing inconsistent levels of semi-rhoticity. Consequently, an investigation is needed to assist in determining whether Trinidadian English is or is not displaying more frequent patterns of rhoticity. This study aims to examine the patterns of rhoticity that occurs in Trinidadian English using a tertiary level population. This target population is gathered by use of stratified sampling, complimented by convenience sampling. The framework used to guide this study is based on the theory that /r/ is realized pre- and intervocalically, the former when preceded by the non-high vowels ([ɜ] [ə] [ɑ] [ɔ]) in particular. A variety of elicitation tasks is used along with an open dialogue of conversation which provides adequate opportunities for the occurrence of the rhotic features linking r, intrusive r and r-colouring. Conversely, this study also examines natural speech versus artificial speech. Therefore, a mixed methodology is used in order to provide an adequate analysis of the occurrences. The findings of this study fill the gap among this age group as no previous study has been conducted since Trinidadian English has recently begun to develop semi-rhoticity.
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    Revitalization of the Patois Language in Trinidad – An Examination of the Effectiveness of Songs in the Process
    (UWI, 2017-05-02) Leps, Sophia
    The motivation for conducting a research project investigating the effectiveness of the use of songs in a community-based approach to revitalize Patois, one of Trinidad and Tobago’s heritage languages, arose because it is an endangered language that is still part of life of the elders in various communities including Paramin, Talparo, Morne Cabrite and Blanchisseuse. All languages are important; they are a part of the culture of the people. Language death in the Caribbean is an unfortunate reality as the Caribbean “has been a graveyard for languages” (Alleyne 2004), leaving only a few of the original languages still in use today (Ferreira 2001). Happily, there is a beacon of hope in language documentation which can lead to revitalization. Language endangerment and death is a worldwide issue that sees UNESCO’s involvement and acknowledgment that most of the world’s languages will soon be extinct and the expectation remains that revitalization efforts, including songs, will continue to retain and even recover the Patois voice and that pride will be enkindled in nationals and the negative stigma associated with Patois will be finally removed.
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    Mastering the Trinidadian English Creole Accent: A Case Study of Native Telugu Speakers in Trinidad
    (UWI, 2018-05-06) Ramdeo, Kyle V.
    According to Dr. Vijaya Rani, native Telugu speaker, informant for this study and medical doctor at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Center in Trinidad, there are over two hundred native Telugu speakers living in Trinidad at present. The topic for this study was selected because of this researcher’s interest in this topic and in this population of Indians from Andhra Pradesh, India. The purpose of this study is to investigate the difference in accents between native Telugu speakers focusing on variables of geography and time, that is, Telugu speakers in the north of Trinidad and native Telugu speakers in central Trinidad will be compared, as well as the differences in time spent living in Trinidad and its impact on their acquisition of the language. This study discusses these concepts and the data which were elicited from the informants in order to understand how the variation of time and exposure to a language has influenced the language which these persons now speak.
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    On the Phonemic Inventory and Syllable Structure of Trinidadian French Creole
    (UWI, 2017-08-09) Lugo, Laurisa
    Trinidadian French Creole (TFC) or Patois is an endangered heritage language of Trinidad which belongs to a group of language varieties referred to as Lesser Antillean French Creole. While TFC has previously been the subject of linguistic study, there has been relatively little investigation into its phonology, thus far. Goodman's contribution to the field is important, but his study of the TFC phonemic inventory, published in 1958, almost 60 years ago, needs to be compared with present-day TFC to determine if any changes have taken place. This study verifies and updates the phonemic inventory described by Goodman. Additionally, it provides an analysis of the syllable structure of TFC, focusing on its syllable template and phonotactic constraints. Data were collected from three native speakers from the villages of Paramin and Talparo and were elicited through a word list, folklore and traditional stories and original narrations from participants. The sole noted change to the phonemic inventory of TFC was the addition of the central alveolar approximant, /ɹ/ which was attributed to English and Trinidadian English Creole influence. The syllable template was determined to be (C)(C)V(C), which indicates that TFC allows complex onsets but only permits simple codas. It was also noted that TFC does not display a tendency toward the CV syllable structure, since phonological restructuring of borrowed lexical items exhibits a pattern of creating closed syllables. These findings are significant since they provide evidence of change in the phonemic inventory of TFC, and it is vital that such change is recorded, due to TFC’s status as an endangered language. Additionally, they illustrate that the syllable structure of TFC is relatively diverse which supports the claim that Antillean French Creoles do not tend only toward a CV syllable structure.
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    A Case Study of the Lexical Retentions of French Creole in Beausejour, Diego Martin, Trinidad
    (UWI, 2017-04-30) Joseph, July E.
    French Creole studies in Trinidad have attempted to explain the grammatical features. Different scholars have variously focused on the syntactic, morphological and phonological features of French Creole such as Goodman (1958). Even though, there have been attempts to create a table glossary of French Creole lexical items, there has been no attempt to explain the distribution and use of these lexical items in Trinidad. Additionally, there have been some studies that have focused on the language revitalization such as the factors necessary for the possible revival of the language, Ferreira and Holbrook (2002). While these studies are stimulating, they tend to focus on areas where French Creole is currently spoken. Still it is necessary to explore the idea of language revitalization in those areas where French Creole is not spoken as it is crucial to garner the support of the entire community. In this study, we would like to use a table glossary to describe the use and retention of French Creole terms in a non-French Creole speaking community. Additionally, their language attitudes will be explored and the implications this may have on any possible language planning initiatives aimed at the revitalization of French Creole in Trinidad. Once the language of Diego Martin, French Creole has largely been displaced. This is evidenced in other areas where French Creole is currently speaking. The number of French Creole speakers has decreased and continues to do so due mainly to the social mobility afforded to English. Furthermore, French Creole was once the language of many different domains, from Folklore to Folk Medicine, Flora to Carnival, in addition to Fauna. By exploring these domains that were once dominated by French Creole, we can determine the extent to which French Creole has died in a community. Moreover, the exploration of these attitudes in addition to the lexical retentions, can aid in the shaping of language planning initiatives in terms of whether there would be support from the community. This is a mixed methodology study consisting of interviews of fifteen persons living in Beausejour, Diego Martin. The sample was determined through first snowball sampling and then purposive sampling to ensure that the interviewees adhered to certain social variables such as age and gender. It was found that overall, Carnival and Folklore had the highest number of retentions, however there was variation according to age group. Also, the researcher found that the language attitudes of the respondents while positive suggested that few of the respondents would support a proposal for the teaching of French Creole whether in schools or as an activity in the community centre. This study, while it does not present any solutions, provides an overview of the current use of French Creole outside of the French Creole speech community. This provides a base for future researchers when determining the right method to be used in future language revitalization projects. In addition, the study provides a sample of the current use of certain French Creole terms as well as the language attitudes of a section of the population. Keywords: French Creole, Trinidad, language revitalization, language planning, lexical retentions
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    Semi-Rhoticity in Trinidadian English of 7-8 year olds: Based on Dunross Preparatory School
    (UWI, 2017-04-28) BARCLAY, KENEISHA C.
    This study evaluates changing rhoticity in the traditionally non-rhotic variety of Trinidadian English. The rhotic features are linking r and intrusive r where these terms are together known as R-Sandhi or R-Liaison. Previous studies have described rhotic features in the Trinidadian English variety according to adult speech and in this study I examine these features in children’s speech. The study aims to determine these rhotic features in the speech of some children. This was done with the assistance of and permission to conduct the study at Dunross Preparatory School. I was allowed to interview five children in a classroom setting with their teacher. All the children ranged in ages 7-8 years old using a methodology that involved a wordlist, sentence and story reading elicitation tasks for the data collection process.