Non-Canonical Relative Clauses: Universals and Variation in Compositionality

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, language, Tlîchô

Principal Investigator: Shimoyama, Junko (2)
Licence Number: 15960
Organization: McGill University
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016
Issued: Sep 12, 2016
Project Team: Dr Keir Moulton (Co-Investigator, Simon Fraser University), Dr Leslie Saxon (Collaborator, University of Victoria), Dr Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten (Postdoctoral fellow, Simon Fraser University)

Objective(s): To understand how the meanings of sentences are related to the meanings of individual words and the way words are combined in different languages.

Project Description: The purpose of this research project is to understand how the meanings of sentences are related to the meanings of individual words and the way words are combined in different languages. ‘Compositionality’, a word in the title of this project, means how words are combined.

Because a language is too large to study everything at once, the research team will study a type of relative clause. An example of a relative clauses in English is the bracketed part in the phrase someone [who we met last year]. Tlicho and the other languages in this study have relative clauses of different types, which the team would like to study.

Participation in this project will include meeting with the researcher(s) doing this study and being interviewed up to about 5 times for about 1 hour each time. The meetings will take place at interviewees' homes, in community offices, or another place that is convenient and not too noisy, such as a library or a coffee shop. The interviews will involve 1) giving translations into the Tlicho language of English words, phrases, or sentences; 2) listening to sentences in the Tlicho language and saying if they make sense and/or what they mean and/or how they might be used; and, 3) telling short stories in Tlicho based on a series of pictures that will be provided. The idea here is that telling a story gives more natural expressions of what is happening than one sentence at a time.

The researcher(s) would like to take notes during the interview and record it for transcription later.
Local people will assist as consultants/interviewees in the project. As there are a number of linguistic researchers in the Tlicho region, opportunities will be created for sharing research with them and getting advice from them. The linguistic information from this project can contribute to language teaching efforts through consultation with teachers in the Tlicho schools.

There will be published articles and possibly theses/dissertations from this project that will be shared with interviewees and community members. Leslie Saxon will present information about project results with Tlicho language specialists and teachers, and suggest ways that the results could be used in teaching and learning the language.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 15, 2016 to December 31, 2016.