The 2017 Georgetown University Round Table took place earlier this month. Four members from U-M Linguistics participated. Department Chair and Professor Robin Queen, Professor Marlyse Baptista, and PhD Candidate Ariana Bancu gave talks. PhD student Emily Sabo presented a poster.

GURT is a longstanding conference hosted by the Georgetown University in Washington, DC. It has been held annually since it’s first round table in 1949. This year’s round table will focus on variable properties in language, all kinds, and particularly on how they are acquired. Officially, “a primary goal of GURT 2017 is to foster interaction and potential collaboration among researchers investigating language from the perspective of different subfields and using a range of methodologies. The conference aims to make progress toward a biologically coherent account of the full range of variation, bridging the silos that keep sociolinguists from interacting with students of syntactic variation, and keep historical linguists apart from phoneticians working on variability. A primary goal of GURT 2017 is thus to change the dialog, and to provide opportunities for experienced scholars to mentor young scholars, including graduate students and postdocs, working on variation, encouraging them to work across domains.”

PhD Candidate Ariana Bancu's talk was entitled 'Syntactic Variation in a Trilingual Community.' Her talk was based on the work she has been doing with the Transylvanian Saxon community from Viscri, Romania. “I would like to thank the Department of Linguistics and the International Institute for providing travel grants that made my participation at the conference possible,” said Ariana.


This study was conducted in a trilingual community in Viscri, Romania, featuring Transylvanian Saxon (TrSax), German, and Romanian. I use a language contact approach to syntactic variation in TrSax to show that new structures transferred into TrSax from German due to close and prolonged contact between the two languages. However, Romanian has a significant influence on the distribution of native and transferred structures. Speakers who acquired Romanian at an early age and/or use it more frequently in their daily lives than the other two languages, use German-type transferred structures to a small degree, as compared to speakers who use German more frequently.

GURT 2017 was sponsored by NSF Grant for Conference, Georgetown University Department of Linguistics, Georgetown College Faculty of Languages and Liguistics, Georgetown University Press, and the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship.