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ROMS Colloquium – Romance Linguistics

August 31, 2022 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Please join us on Wednesday, August 31st at 3:30pm in Toy Lounge for the first Colloquium of the semester, featuring presentations on Linguistics by Dr. Laura Demsey, Teaching Associate Professor of French, Dr. Lamar A. Graham, Assistant Professor of Spanish, and Dr. Bruno Estigarriba, Professor of Spanish. We are excited to kickstart this event once again to help reignite a sense of intellectual community in our department. The goal of the Colloquium is to create an informal and productive space for faculty and PhD candidates to share their work, to receive feedback and to foster new connections within Romance Studies.


Please find below the title and description of Dr. Demsey, Dr. Graham, and Dr. Estigarriba’s presentations:


  • Dr. Laura Demsey, Contact, Shift, and Structural Change in Franco-American New England


In the New England region of the United States, there exist large communities of French speakers, almost all of whom are descendants of immigrants who came from Quebec between about 1840 and 1910.  Due to bilingualism with English and its minority status due to a lack of intergenerational transmission, New England French has the potential for extensive grammatical influence from English. The structures explored in this study all include a basic grammatical element—the definite determiner, or the word for ‘the’—to examine a microcosm of the larger system. I also hypothesize that age and exposure to and use of French are two main factors that correlate with higher rates of English-like structures. Results suggest that speakers do have many of the predicted kinds of influence from English, and those with the least exposure to and the most contextually limited use of French produce English-like structures most frequently.


  • Dr. Lamar A. Graham, “Minority” Romance languages as clues to historical sound change


Though Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian are all recognizable as related languages, how did they come to sound differently over time?  Despite the contiguity from Portugal to Italy, one wonders about phonological characteristics that do not cross borders such as the rising diphthongs of Spanish, the reduction of sonorants in Portuguese, the front vowels of French, and the vocalization of liquids in Italian clusters.  In many cases, the contrasts exhibited by these national, official, codified and regulated languages are shared by regional, less regulated languages within their national borders.  In this talk I share a few examples of how modern “minority” languages mirror stages of phonological variation and instability in the history of “major” Romance languages.


  • Dr. Bruno Estigarribia, Digital Humanities and Language Documentation


Linguists have been using digital tools for a long time. One of the main areas in which digital tools have been developed by linguists is for language documentation and analysis. This talk will give a brief introduction to the different areas in which these tools are used and the methods employed.


August 31, 2022
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


Toy Lounge