Phonetics and Phonology Workshop
sbowman October 15th, 2012
The Stanford Phonetics and Phonology Workshop (long known as ‘P-interest’) meets for presentations and paper discussions every Friday 12:15–1:15pm in Margaret Jacks Hall 126 (map; getting to Stanford), and monthly at a rotating cast of bars for P-int night conversation. All are welcome to come and participate.
All of our activities are announced over our mailing list, which you can join by filling out your information here.
Faculty advisor: Arto Anttila
2012–2013 Schedule of Events
Spring Quarter 2013
4/5: Sam Bowman (Stanford): Two arguments for vowel harmony by trigger competition (CLS/mfm practice talk) following an organizational meeting.
I present two phenomena in front-back vowel harmony which are difficult to account for in standard theories, and argue that with some necessary elaborations, Trigger Competition (TC, Kimper, 2011) is best suited to account for both. TC is a new harmony framework based on a positive constraint (imperative) set in Serial Harmonic Grammar, and allows for agreement between non-adjacent segments. The constraint considers both the distance between trigger and target and the nature of the trigger in assigning rewards, allowing for a fairly sophisticated approach to non-participating segments.
Hungarian vowel harmony shows a pattern of optionality (Benus, Gafos, and Goldstein, 2003) in its handling of phonetically front transparent vowels in harmonically back contexts: Back suffixes are used after single transparent vowels, either front or back suffixes after the semi-transparent vowel /e/ or after pairs of transparent vowels, and front suffixes after transparent vowel–/e/ sequences. Under TC, this emerges readily: Distance and trigger strength conspire to produce these additive effects.
In Seto, the transparent vowels /i/ and /e/ can appear in back vowel contexts without interacting with harmony. Remarkably, back equivalents to these vowels, /ɨ/ and /ɤ/, also appear in the inventory. Both conventional approaches to transparency in local harmony systems—neutralization and underspecification—require that neutral vowels be un-paired, but TC has no such requirement: If any constraint prevents a vowel from alternating, it will be neutral, and if it is a weak trigger, it will be transparent.
4/12: Andrea Davis (Arizona): When is Phonetic Variation Helpful for Learning Word Forms?
Phonetic variation between speakers promotes generalization when learning new words (Richtsmeier et al., 2009; Rost & McMurray, 2009, 2010). But is variation always helpful for generalization? It could be the case that whether variation is beneficial for generalization depends on a variety of factors, including prior experience with the language, the developmental stage of the learner, whether or not the new words are similar in form to other words, or whether the test is on perception vs production of the new words. The proposed work focuses on two of these factors. Do learners with more experience with a language still benefit from phonetic variation, when learning new words? Additionally, is there a difference between perception and production, in whether experienced learners continue to benefit from phonetic variation?
4/19: QP Fest: Stanford speakers TBA
4/22: Monday P-int night at Rose and Crown
4/26: Stephanie Shih (Stanford): Function versus content word prosodification: evidence from phonetic reducibility (Davis Grammatical Word Workshop practice talk)
The division between lexical content words and grammatical function words has been motivated in part by differences in stress and prosody. The traditional view maintains that content words have lexically-programmed stress whereas monosyllabic function words are lexically unstressed and appear on the surface in both strong (unreduced) or weak (reduced) forms. Despite this commonly categorical divide, natural language corpus studies based on intonational prominence have suggested that function words themselves are not a homogeneous class when it comes to their prosodification (e.g., Altenberg 1987; Hirschberg 1993; Bell et al. 2003). In this talk, I follow this latter view: with evidence from phonetic reduction in a corpus of conversational American English, I show that the extent to which function words appear in strong and weak forms varies by subclasses, with some function words behaving like lexically-stressed content words and others exhibiting more variable prosodic realizations. I focus specifically on the prosodification of a function word as weak or strong as conditioned by the neighboring context of weak and strong syllables. Crucially, content words and function word subclasses will differ in their sensitivity to rhythmic environment.
5/3: Paper Discussion: Florian Schiel et al.: Rhythm and Formant Features for Automatic Alcohol Detection
5/17: Emily Cibelli (UC Berkeley): Early processing pathways of words and pseudowords: Evidence from electrocorticography
Pseudowords – phonotactically-legal novel forms like “blick” and “piteretion” – are common tools employed in studies of lexical processing. They are often compared to words, under the assumption that these novel forms isolate sub-lexical levels of processing; however, there is some debate about whether words and pseudowords utilize shared or distinct pathways at early stages of processing. Critically, the answer to this question affects the interpretation what is being isolated in word-pseudoword comparisons.
In recent years, this issue has been examined by a wealth of neuroimaging studies, with the goal of identifying lexical and sub-lexical processing pathways at the neural level. This work contributes to that growing body of literature by presenting data from a word-pseudoword listening task using electrocorticography (ECoG), a technique which records neural activity directly from the cerebral cortex. ECoG data is relatively new to the neurolinguistics literature, but has a high spatial and temporal resolution, an advantage in tracing processing pathways. Results are discussed in light of Hickok and Poeppel’s (2007) dual-stream model of language processing. The data suggests that at early processing stages, words and pseudowords share a pathway in regions of the brain identified as being involved with phonetic, phonological, and lexical processing.
5/24: no meeting
5/30: Thursday P-int night at Rose & Crown
5/31: Allan Schwade (UCSC) The Non-Grammatical Gender of Words
Walker and Hay (2011) demonstrated that English listeners are faster and more accurate at identifying auditorily presented words in a lexical decision task when words associated with a certain age-group were spoken by speakers from that age-group, supporting exemplar models that claim tokens are tagged for attributes of the talker (Johnson, 1997; Pierrehumbert, 2001). The study to be presented expands on the work of Walker and Hay by showing that English speakers’ reaction times for orthographically-presented words associated with a non-grammatical gender are primed by images of men and women, albeit in unexpected ways. The results raise interesting questions regarding the ability of people to report the sociological attributes associated with words, and the robustness of sociological priming effects across different modalities.
6/7: Chris Donlay (UCSB)
Winter Quarter 2013
1/11: Matt Faytak (Berkeley): Obstruent Vowels in Kom
Vowels are attested with a wide range of secondary articulations not involving the tongue body, such as nasalization or pharyngealization. The Grassfields Bantu language Kom (ISO 639-3 bkm, Bantoid, Cameroon) appears to distinguish between vowels with and without an additional coronal and labiodental constriction; similar vowels are attested in other languages of the region (Fransen 1995, Connell 2007).
After a discussion of the phonetics of Kom’s vowel system, I argue that the set of [+high] vowels in Kom consists of four canonical high vowels /i y u ɯ/ and two additional “obstruent vowel” phonemes, which I denote as /z v/, which are consistently realized with significant alveolar and labiodental constriction, respectively. I further argue that diphthong formation, in which the obstruent vowels freely participate, supports this analysis. The Kom vowel system as I analyze it is a major departure from prior work on Kom (Shultz 1993, 1997) and an unusual addition to attested arrangements of vowel systems in the acoustic space delimited by the vocal tract.
1/16: P-Int night at Rose and Crown
1/18: Paper discussion: Paster, in Press: Rethinking the ‘duplication problem’
1/25: Joint meeting with UCSC Phlunch: Stephanie Shih (Stanford).
2/1: Departmental event, no meeting.
2/8: Departmental event, no meeting.
2/15: Alex Djalali (Stanford): A constructive solution to the ranking problem in Partial Order Optimality Theory
I give a solution to the ranking problem in Partial Order Optimality Theory (PoOT), which can be stated as follows: Allowing for free variation, given a finite set of input/output pairs, i.e., a dataset, that a speaker knows to be part of some language, how can learn the set of all PoOT grammars under some constraint set compatible with that dataset?
For an arbitrary dataset, we provide set-theoretic means for constructing the set of all PoOT grammars compatible with that dataset. Specifically, we determine the set of all strict orders of constraints that are compatible with dataset. As every strict total order is in fact a strict order, our solution is applicable in both PoOT and classical optimality theory (COT), showing that the ranking problem in COT is a special instance of a more general one in PoOT.
2/22: Departmental event, no meeting.
2/27: P-int night at Rose and Crown
3/1: Jared Bernstein (Pearson): TBA
3/8: Ed King and Seung Kyung Kim (Stanford): PRAAT tutorial
3/13: P-int night at Rose and Crown
3/15: Dead week: No meeting
Fall Quarter 2012
9/28: Organizational meeting
10/2: P-int night: Madam Tam’s at 8p
10/5: Jonah Katz (Berkeley): Rhyme Patterns Reiterate Phonological Typology
10/12: Joint meeting with the CrISP workshop
10/19: Paper discussion: Benus, Gafos and Goldstein, 2003: Phonetics and Phonology of Transparent Vowels in Hungarian
10/26: Jason Riggle (UChicago): Evaluating models of variation via grammar sampling
Modeling variation is challenging because the combination of linguistic and nonlinguistic factors can make it difficult to determine when a proposed grammatical model is fitting and when it is overfitting observed data. Nonetheless, modeling variation is also appealing because it incorporates an additional (and rich) stream of information for the creation and evaluation of linguistic models. In this talk I focus on constraint-based phonological grammars that generate patterns of variation by sampling from rankings of constraints. I show first, that several published claims which assert that sampling from rankings cannot generate fine-grained distributions are based on dubious (and tacit) assumptions about the sampling operation. I then present a range of empirical phenomena where sampling models can fit the data quite well and, in fact, maybe too well. I conclude with a discussion of how overfitting can be assessed for such models and, relatedly, I ask what role noise in the training data plays when fitting–and perhaps overfitting–patterns of variation.
11/2: Paul Kiparsky (Stanford): How stress became pitch accent in Scandinavian: evidence from Fenno-Swedish
The Swedish and Norwegian contrast between pitch accent 1 and 2 is standardly treated by associating an inherent lexical pitch with accent 2 words. Phonetically these words are distinguished from accent 1 words in central Scandinavian by having two pitch peaks, and in southern Scandinavian by the delayed timing of their single pitch peak. I show that the corresponding accent distinction in the Swedish of Tenala (Finland) requires a very different analysis. In this dialect, pitch accent is fully predictable from stress: accent 2 occurs in all and only those words that have two or more feet — just the distribution hypothesized by Riad (2003, 2005) for Proto-Nordic. Älvdalen Swedish and Gudbrandsdalen Norwegian can tentatively be assigned to the same type. The reason why pitch accent remained a redundant feature in these conservative dialects is that they retain the Nordic stress and quantity features that condition it, perhaps through the influence of the co-territorial Saami and Finnish languages. It was only the elimination of stressed light syllables in the rest of continental Scandinavian that first made the accent 1 vs. accent 2 contrast phonemic. This further suggests a novel contact-based explanation for the fact that pitch accent arose only in Scandinavian, although its precursor prosodic system was pan-Germanic.
11/9: Junko Ito (UC Santa Cruz): Matching Prosodic Constituents
The theory of the syntax-prosody interface has taken a significant step in advance with the development of Match Theory (Selkirk 2009, 2011, etc.), whose central idea is that syntax-prosody mapping constraints are of a very simple kind, essentially demanding the direct replication of core constituents in syntax (words/phrases/clauses) by corresponding prosodic constituents (prosodic words/phonological phrases/intonational phrases). Match constraints are constituency-based, hence both edges are required to be matched. Prosody as it emerges from the syntax-phonology map often does not exactly correspond to syntax at all, but Match Theory interprets this as due not to the mapping constraints themselves, which would require an imperfect and distorted match, but rather to the fact that the mapping constraints, even though they demand a perfect match, are often dominated by other constraints that govern prosodic form (binarity, antilapse, etc.) and result in syntax-prosody disalignment for this reason. Match Theory, in its focus on constituency and not privileged (left or right) boundaries, is in this central aspect very different from its antecedent and competitor, the End-based Alignment Theory, which builds syntax-prosody disalignment into the mapping constraints themselves.
This talk will take up some extensions of Match Theory to prosody-prosody matching (e.g., requiring prosodic words to be coextensive with feet), and consider how it fares with respect to Generalized Alignment Theory and Generalized Template Theory (McCarthy and Prince 1994, 95, 99, etc.). In exploring the connection between Match constraints and what might be considered “Emergence of the Unmarked” effects, we will look at two case studies where such prosody-prosody match constraints play a role: (1) Serbo-Croatian vowel shortening (Zec 1999) and (2) the distribution of the Danish stød (glottal accent), following an analysis along the lines of Kiparsky 1995/2006 on Livonian stød.
11/16: Tania Rojas-Esponda (Stanford):
Sundanese possesses two plural allomorphs, ar and al. They are particularly important as they can be used to pluralize adjectives, nouns and also verbs. Cohn, Holton and McCarthy present analyses for the ar/al alternation, starting from ar as the assumed underlying form. Roughly, they claim that the r in the plural affix ar dissimilates to l if there is another r in the word, except when the other r is directly neighboring (separated from the affixal r only by a vowel). McCarthy deals with this exception by introducing the markedness constraints *lVrV and *rVlV. These two constraints are natural enough given the OCP, which says that similar but distinct consonants (such as l and r) should not occur close to each other. However, McCarthy also claims there is a crucial asymmetrical treatment of the two sequences lVrV and rVlV when they occur underlyingly. I will talk about whether the data support this claim.
The analyses of Cohn, Holton and McCarthy are based on the same, and rather limited, set of examples. In my talk I use a larger set of data extracted from a Sundanese version of the bible that has on the order of a million words as well as data from an online Sundanese dictionary to test some of the generalizations made by these authors.
11/23: no meeting (holiday)
11/30: Olga Dmitrieva (Berkeley, PhD Stanford) and Giulio Caviglia (Purdue):
Convex regions and phonological frequency: Extending the weighted constraints approach.
The currently dominant framework for modeling phonological phenomena, Optimality Theory, provides tools for capturing categorical phonological typology (factorial typology) and can be extended to account for gradient and stochastic phenomena, as well as their frequency. Recently, a competing approach, based on weighted rather than ranked constraints, Harmonic Grammar, has been gaining popularity. In this talk we explore the mathematical bases of Optimality Theory and Harmonic Grammar, the underlying connection between the two and their differences.
We also address the limitations of Optimality Theory compared to weighted constraints approach and the fact that Harmonic Grammar, the currently most developed implementation of the weighted constraints approach does not fully explore the potential of this method.
We then propose a natural extension of the weighted constraints approach, which allows for the development of whole phonological typologies, equivalent to those produced by the factorial typology in standard OT. This method also provides an estimate of the relative frequencies of the possible language types and output types, based on the relative volumes of the convex regions in the weight space.
12/4: P-int night: TBA
12/7: LSA practice talks: Jeremy Calder (Stanford); Sam Bowman (Stanford)