Jens Van Gysel
Research Title : The Effects of Language Endangerment on Sanapaná Vowel Productions
Jens Van Gysel, a PhD student in the Department of Linguistics, traveled to La Esperanza, Paraguay during the summer of 2018 to examine how Sanapaná speakers’ shift to speaking Spanish and Guarani affects Sanapaná language production. Jens compared the acoustic characteristics of vowel pronunciations by monolingual Sanapaná speakers, multilingual speakers who use their ancestral language daily, and multilingual speakers who use Spanish or Guaraní for daily communication. Jens’ project assess whether a decreased frequency of language use leads to more variability in pronunciation and whether it is this decreased frequency of use or rather language contact that is the main driving force behind sound change processes in endangered languages. Jens’ research advances theoretical understanding of language change and help assess future avenues for language revitalization.