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Northeastern University Working Papers in Linguistics (Volume 7)

The Linguistics Program in the College of Science is proud to announce the publication of the latest in their series of undergraduate working papers.


The seventh volume of the Northeastern University Working Papers in Linguistics is now online, and showcases four outstanding pieces of student writing exploring a broad array of language-related questions.


Working Papers editor Robert Painter, Associate Teaching Professor of Linguistics, summarizes the newest contributions as follows:


Sofia Caruso’s paper ‘Albanian Noun and Adjective Morphology’ is a towering achievement of fieldwork: she has independently motivated the complex case morphology of Albanian, determining nominative, vocative, accusative, dative, genitive, and ablative; and shows how there is widespread syncretism within and across paradigms in the Tirana variety of her native speaker consultant, E. Caruso also independently studies the linking morphemes used in adjective agreement within a noun phrase, an unusual quirk found in Albanian and few other Indo-European languages. Her paper is remarkably supported with glossed language examples from a database of over 1,000 noun and adjectives in various structures, which she collected herself after hundreds of hours of fieldwork.


Henry Fellner’s paper ‘The Mazhimo Tuhasamin Language’ presents his original language, Mazhimo Tuhasamin, conceived as an amalgamation of eight southeast Asian languages. Imagining its speakers as a nomadic people wandering through Asia for generations who evolved a kind of argot, Fellner strives to build the Mazhimo Tuhasamin language from structural elements of Burmese, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mandarin, S’gaw Karen, and Thai. His paper not only gives a succinct descriptive overview of a novel linguistic system; it provides valuable discussion on conlanging as a scholarly and artistic process.


Hannah Lee’s paper ‘Case Study: Right to the Conversational Floor between Twins’

presents a thought-provoking case-study of the speech of a mother caregiver and her twin three-year-old children, a girl and a boy. For this original pilot study, Lee was able to collect 36 minutes of audio recordings of spontaneous naturalistic speech between mother and children. Lee analyzes the number of turns taken by the boy and the girl, alongside the number of turn ratifications issued by the mother, showing that the twin boy takes more and longer turns than the girl, and that the mother engages more of the boy’s turns than the girl’s. Situated within up-to-date research in the field of language socialization, Lee concludes that the twin girl is socialized into the gender norm that she does not have the right to hold the floor compared to her brother – a lesson which may impact her communicative behavior into adulthood.


Henry Volchonok’s paper ‘Intonation and Emphasis in Standard Albanian’ fills a gap in understanding the phonetics of this language. Recording individual words, phrases, and full utterances from his native speaker consultant, E, and analyzing them in sound analysis software, Volchonok makes a highly original contribution to the study of pitch, intonation, and emphasis in Albanian. The paper presents detailed acoustic analyses of intonation contours for imperative, declarative, and interrogative utterances; and it investigates how Albanian speakers shift the main intonational contour to place certain items in narrow contrastive focus. While Volchonok’s paper is a pilot study, it opens the door for further study, as even a cursory search in the phonetic literature shows that there is scant material available on intonation and emphasis in Albanian when compared to other major European languages.


The Working Papers are the brainchild of Shiti Malhotra, who proposed the creation of the series in 2016 and led its editorial efforts over its first three years. As with any academic journal, submissions to the Working Papers undergo a rigorous selection process involving peer review and revision, and entries must demonstrate a clear contribution to furthering our understanding and appreciation of the phenomenon of human language.


Full copies of the papers included in this latest volume of the Northeastern University Working Papers in Linguistics, as well as all papers featured in the previous six volumes, can be found here:

  • Adam I. Cooper, Director, Linguistics Program