Volunteer Basis, Potential for UROP Funding, Potential for Work-Study Funding, Potential for Academic Credit


The Linguistic Semantics Lab (LiSLab) seeks undergraduate research assistants for a multi-faceted project involving the semantics of ratio expressions like “miles per hour” and “teachers per student” and their translational (near-)equivalents in other languages. We hope to understand the relationship between semantic and morphological properties of the numerator (“miles”) and the denominator (“hour”) and the strategies used in various languages for expressing the concept of the ratio. We also hope to chart the patterns of equivalence both within and across languages (e.g. “A ton of wheat costs $100” vs. “The cost of wheat is $100 per ton” vs. “The cost per ton of wheat is $100”).

This project involves both corpus-based and fieldwork-based methodologies. The corpus-based component involves annotation of examples in an aligned multi-lingual corpus, summarizing/visualizing the results in tables and graphs, and creating morphological glosses. The fieldwork component involves designing elicitation materials, recruiting speakers of various languages, conducting interviews remotely via Zoom, and analyzing results.

Students with a background in abstract algebra and/or formal philosophy are invited to participate in the project by helping to develop a formal ontology of quantities that allows for multiplication and division of quantities across dimensions, based on mathematical foundations from metrology.


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