For undergraduate students
Undergraduate students will need to have completed at least one upper-division class to develop a research project on Pidgin. You should talk to linguistics faculty about taking a Directed Research class (Ling 499) with them or additional regular classes in Linguistics while you work on your project. Even with just one advanced class in Linguistics, there are interesting and worthwhile research projects that undergraduates can do.
You might want to develop a project on Pidgin as part of the Honors Program. In doing a project, there are a number of resources on campus that you can make use of, such as the Language Analysis and Experimentation Labs (LAE Labs) , or materials in the Hamilton Library Special Collections.
Examples of projects for undergraduate students:
If you’re taking Ling 410:
– Describe the intonational tunes of different kinds of sentences in Pidgin.
– Create a vowel chart showing how Pidgin vowels and those of another American dialect compare.
– Measure and compare voice onset times of consonants in Pidgin versus another American dialect.
– Find out when flapping does or doesn’t occur in Pidgin.
– Document what lexical items in Pidgin have a different stress location than they do in another American dialect.
– Investigate the sounds used in Pidgin in different regions, or by different age groups, or in heavy vs. light Pidgin.
If you’re taking Ling 412:
– Test how long it takes to read Pidgin sentences written in an orthography based on Standard English vs. an orthography based on the sound system of Pidgin.
– Record speakers as they read pairs of syntactically ambiguous sentences, to see if they use prosody/intonation to disambiguate the sentences.
If you’re taking Ling 420 and/or 422:
– Description of how tense/aspect/mood are morphologically realized in Pidgin.
– Study the types and rules of compounding in Pidgin.
– Comparative study of a particular syntactic phenomenon/concept (e.g., word order, voice, transitivity, case) in Pidgin, English, Japanese, and Hawaiian.
If you’re taking Ling 470:
-Record the speech of children learning Pidgin in a home environment.
For graduate students
There are a large number of projects that graduate students could work on which involve Pidgin; you could work in virtually any area of linguistics. Graduate students should consult with an advisor in the appropriate area (e.g., Victoria Anderson for phonetics; Amy Schafer for psycholinguistics; Michael Forman or Andrew Wong for sociolinguistics). Below are some examples of general topics involving Pidgin. You should work with an advisor to develop a more specific project.
Examples of general topics for graduate students:
– Description of the prosodic/intonational system of Pidgin.
– Careful description of the segmental phonetics and phonology of Pidgin, including its sociolinguistic variation.
– Careful description of the syntactic structure of Pidgin.
– Psycholinguistic investigation of reading in Pidgin with various orthographies.
– Design a phonics system for teaching the relationship between Pidgin pronunciations and standard English spelling.
– Create a computational connectionist model of the relationships between Pidgin pronunciation and standard English spelling.
– Look at the development of grammatical suffixes in children who speak Pidgin.
– Look at the development of syntactic structure in children who speak Pidgin.
– Investigation of the preferred interpretation of ambiguous words or sentences.
– Investigation of how discourses are processed, such as how arguments are mentioned vs. dropped to indicate given vs. new information.
– Look at the differences between heavy and light Pidgin.
– Investigate who speaks what kind of Pidgin and in what settings.
– Examine the social and regional differences in the use of Pidgin (e.g. Big Island Pidgin, Kauai Pidgin, Maui Pidgin).
– Study the relationship between the synchronic variation and the diachronic change of Pidgin.