Category Archives: Linguistics News

Faculty Teaching Awards, Grants and Recognitions, Spring 2016

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Prof. Laura Levi Altstaedter was named a 2015-16 Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching, and is the winner of the Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching.

2016TeachingAwards705The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures recognized two faculty for their Outstanding Commitment to Teaching for 2015-16: Lisa Ellison (Classical Studies) from the fixed term faculty; and Birgit Jensen (German) from the tenured faculty.

Prof. Jensen was also selected to attend the Leipzig Summer Academy for American Faculty in German and German Studies, through a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service and US Fulbright Commission (co-sponsored).

Prof. Ellison was also nominated and selected by the Women’s Basketball team as an honorary coach.

The Department said farewell to Prof. Carrie Carman-Jewers, pictured at left, who is leaving at the end of this academic year, but generously coordinated this recognition of other faculty. She will be missed greatly by Hispanic Studies and all of us who appreciated her wonderful spirit. This year she was recognized with two college star acknowledgements and two nominations as most influential faculty member.

Prof. Stephen Fafulas, pictured at right, was recognized with an Award for exceptional contributions to the College and University through Creativity and Initiative in implementing the teacher-scholar model through community-engaged research with undergraduate students.

This year also marks the retirement of Sylvie Debevec Henning, Chair 1997-2004, and Director of International Programs and the MAIS 2004-2013. Prof. Henning was instrumental in bringing to ECU federal Department of Education grants in support of the establishment of Russian Studies and Asian Studies as disciplines on this campus, and built bridges with Foreign Languages throughout the university and community with efforts like the Great Decisions Program and her membership on the World Affairs Council of Eastern North Carolina.

Ben Fraser at EOSA 2016Prof. Ben Fraser completed the Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy (shown here with Michael Van Scott, left, Kate Baker (MAIS), Joanna Paul (EC Scholar) and Lillie Malpass (EC Scholar) and Provost Ron Mitchelson)

Prof. Rosa Lopez-Cañete was recognized for her excellence in teaching by the Golden Key Honor Society.

Prof. Javier Lorenzo was recognized with an Excellence in Teaching Award by The National Society of Leadership and Success (Sigma Alpha Pi). He was also recipient of a Faculty Senate Research and Creative Activities Awards in support of his research this summer.

Prof. John Stevens was also recipient of the Faculty Senate Research and Creative Activities Award for his research on “Xenophon’s Republic“.

Prof. David Smith was recipient of a BB&T Active Learning Grant in support of Teaching innovation. The grant supports curriculum redesign to involve students in the learning process, whether through partner/small group work and presentations, serving as discussion leaders etc.

Prof. Jennifer Valko received a grant in support of the development of Alternative Textbooks.

Prof. Tricia Wilson-Okamura was honored for her contributions to teaching by the Office of Retention Programs and Undergraduate Studies

April 4-8, 2016. Research and Creative Achievement Week


Presentations at Research and Creative Achievement Week by FLL students:

Tuesday April 5.

INTERSECTION: ARTS AND SCIENCES. MSC 244.
Mia Willis, BA MULT: Classical Civilization. Oral Presentation. 9:20-9:30am. “Greco-Roman Paganism in the Architectural Culture of the Southern Levant During the Roman Empire”

Wednesday April 6.

NATURAL SCIENCES
Elisa Alfonso, Double major Music and BA Hispanic Studies. Oral Presentation. MSC Great Room 1. 11:15-11:30. UO11. “The Morphological Characteristics of Step-pool Systems in Tropical and Non-Tropical Environments.”

Kristen Fulcher, BS Biochemistry, BA Chemistry and Hispanic Studies minor, Poster Presentation. MSC Social Room. UP99. 10:15am-12:15pm. UP99 “Macronutrient Intake of Pregnant Exercisers and Non-Exercisers”

Spencer Jackson, Double Major BS Biology and BA French. Oral Presentation. MSC Great Room 1. 10:30am-11:45am. UO10. “Suppression of claudin-7 enhances human lung cancer cell survival”

BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES MSC 221.
Aenia Amin, BS MULT: Neuroscience, BA Psychology, and BA Hispanic Studies, Poster Presentation. 10:15am-12:15pm. UP23. “The Role of Prenatal Hormone Exposure on Neurobehavioral Alterations in a Rat Model of Autism Spectrum Disorders”

HUMANITIES MSC Great Room 1.
Hannah Forde-Smith, BS University Studies (Mentor John Stevens), Oral Presentation. 1:30-1:45. UO13. “Understanding Justice Through the Myth of Perses: Reflections on Hesiod’s Works and Days”

Daniel Franch, Triple Major BS History Ed, BA History and BA German. (Mentor David Smith). Oral Presentation. 2:15-2:30. UO16. “Reimagining Home: ‘Heimat’ and Identity in Friederike Unger’s ‘Bekenntnisse einer schöner Seele’ (1806)”.

Morgan Shelor. BA Hispanic Studies. Oral Presentation. 2-2:15pm. UO15. “The Influence of Parental Involvement on Student Learning when Language and Cultural Barriers for Parents of ESL Students Exist”.

SOCIAL SCIENCES MSC Great Room 3.
Anna Lawrence, Double major BA Hispanic Studies and BA Anthropology. (Mentor Stephen Fafulas). Oral Presentation. 11:45am-12pm. UO31. “Morphosyntactic variation of subject pronoun expression in an emerging dialect of Spanish in eastern North Carolina”

William Sokolovic. BA Hispanic Studies. Oral Presentation. 8:15-8:30am. UO18. “The Organizer’s Handbook: A Framework for Effective Social Change”

Paige Vaughan. Double major BA English and BA German; and Daniel Franch. (Mentor Jill Twark). Oral Presentation. 11:30-11:45am. UO30. “Student Co-teaching in a Postsecondary Foreign Language Classroom”

FLL Students Best Paper at TESOL 2016

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Two ECU students, Anna Lawrence (undergraduate) and Ashley Meehan (graduate), won the “Best Paper Presentation Award” at the 13th Annual TESOL / Applied Linguistics Graduate Students Conference hosted at East Carolina University on February 13, 2016. Their paper, entitled Morphosyntactic Variation in an Emerging Dialect of Spanish in Eastern North Carolina, reports on findings from an ongoing study that investigates the formation of Spanish communities in the rural south. This research is being conducted under the mentorship of Foreign Languages and Literatures faculty member Dr. Stephen Fafulas, current Director of the SoCIOLing Lab.
TESOL Best Paper 2016

URCA Award Winners in FLL for 2015-16

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Three students in FLL were supported in their scholarly projects with Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Awards for 2015-16:

  • Aenia Amin, a triple major in Neuroscience, Psychology and Hispanic Studies, who is doing a Neuroscience project with Dr. Tuan Tran
  • Spencer Jackson, a double major in Biology and French who is doing a project with Dr. Yan-Hua Chen of the Department of Anatomy and Cell-Physiology in the Brody School of Medicine; and
  • Anna Lawrence, a double major in Hispanic Studies and Anthropology, pictured above with her mentor, Dr. Stephen Fafulas of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

Anna’s project, which is supported by the Department’s SoCIOLingLab is entitled, “Morphosyntactic variation in an emerging dialect of Spanish in eastern North Carolina”. Her work aims to discover the unique characteristics of spoken Spanish in the Hispanic communities of our region:

“For the past several decades, the Spanish-speaking population in eastern North Carolina (eNC) has been increasing rapidly. While much is known of other Spanish varieties spoken in major cities in the US, little is known about the formation of Spanish communities in the rural south. This project aims to fill that void by: 1) documenting the socio-demographic and linguistic characteristics of this specific population through sociolinguistic interviews and participant questionnaires, and 2) analyzing the forthcoming results in order to add to our knowledge of Spanish morphosyntax by noting specific properties that make this emerging Spanish community’s dialect different than other bilingual Spanish varieties around the US. Methodology for the study include: (a) collection of speech samples through sociolinguistic interviews, (b) targeted narrations of Mayer’s “Frog, Where Are You?” picture book, and (c) participant profiles through a Background Language Proficiency (BLP) Questionnaire.”

Stephen Fafulas Co-PI of Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Award

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Stephen Fafulas will be Co-principal investigator for a collaborative interdisciplinary investigation on “Assessing levels of nasality among children whose primary language is Spanish.” The PI will be Jamie Perry, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Allied Health Sciences. They are joined by Lucia Mendez and Yolanda Holt, also of CAHS.

The Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Award is sponsored by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies in partnership with the Divisions of Academic Affairs and Health Sciences to promote collaborations among faculty with complementary expertise that may lead to proposals that will attract extra-mural funding from major grants.

Two Way Immersion Programs

Pitt County Schools is launching a dual language immersion program at Belvoir Elementary School in the fall, where 48% of students are native Hispanic speakers. The program, with rotating instruction in Spanish and English, will be offered to all incoming kindergartners with parent approval.
Pitt County Schools World Language Coordinator, Ann Borisoff, says research shows there are scholastic benefits to bilingual instruction. “What happens is that a different part of the brain is accessed when you are working with a bilingual situation. Actually, learning in a lot of cases goes a lot faster and students obtain the same or better results on academic achievement tests as do their monolingual peers,” Borisoff.

»» WNCT Story

(Last year’s post from 3/21/14):
Pitt County Schools is doing a feasibility study on two-way immersion programs to start in 2015-16. In such programs the entire curriculum is taught partially in Spanish and partially in English. Prof. Ann Borisoff who has just completed a dissertation on this subject was featured in an article in The Daily Reflector on March 4, discussing the benefits of such an approach in Pitt County where schools like Belvoir Elementary are 48% Hispanic.
Borisoff said that not only do all the students become bilingual and biliterate, but achievement improves and students develop cross-cultural competence. Data from programs such as the dual immersion program in Greene County have shown that students in such language immersion programs not only learn the standard curriculum despite the language challenges, but actually perform equal or better on grade level tests than their mono-lingual peers. A sample classroom might be an equal mix of native-Spanish and native-English speakers on an alternate day schedule in which the same curriculum is taught exclusively in Spanish one day and in English the next.

Linguistics discovery of common ancestor tongue


Linguists have traced the roots of English, Hindi, Greek and all Indo-European languages to a common ancestor tongue first spoken on the Russian steppes as much as 6,500 years ago.

New research from the University of California-Berkeley emerged after linguists analyzed reconstructed vocabulary, including words such as “I am,” “bear,” and “wood” from more than 150 living and dead languages, as well as archaeological data.

»» Read more