About

The Berkeley Phonetics & Phonology Forum ("Phorum") is a weekly talk and discussion series featuring presentations on all aspects of phonology and phonetics.

Meetings

Mondays 12-1
1303 Dwinelle

Coordinators

Meg Cychosz

Andrew Cheng

Berkeley Phonetics and Phonology Forum

Schedule of Talks for Spring 2017


February 27 -

Jacob Phillips (University of Chicago)
Phonological and prosodic conditioning of sibilant retraction in American English

An ongoing sound change in American English is /s/-retraction, the process by which /s/ is produced approaching /ʃ/ in the context of /r/. Individuals vary greatly in degree, frequency and distribution of observed retraction. This study seeks to better understand the role of retraction through a manipulation of prosodic position of /str/ /skr/ and /spr/ clusters. The results of this study suggest a general dampening in centroid frequency phrase-initially, with some individuals showing additional effects for the interaction of prosodic position and phonological context. For these individuals, /s/ is most retracted in phrase-initial /str/ clusters, potentially increasing the possibility of target reinterpretation by listeners. These findings suggest a possible role of prosodic position in the actuation of sound change, both in production and possible effects in perception.


March 6 -

Nicholas Rolle (UC Berkeley)
TBA

TBA


March 13 -

Susan Lin (UC Berkeley)
TBA

TBA


March 20 -

Santiago Barreda (UC Davis)
TBA

TBA


March 27 -

Spring Break (no meeting)


April 3 -

Andrew Garrett (UC Berkeley)
TBA

TBA


April 10 -

Renee Kemp (UC Davis)
TBA

TBA


April 17 -

Robert Podesva (Stanford University)
TBA

TBA


April 24 -

Susan Lin, Meg Cychosz, and Alice Shen (UC Berkeley)
Instructional and biofeedback training in L2 contrast learning

TBA


May 1 -

Ingo Plag (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf)
TBA

TBA


May 8 -

Andrew Cheng (UC Berkeley)
TBA

TBA


Previous Meetings

January 23 -

Hannah Sande (UC Berkeley)
Modeling the morphology/phonology interface: Evidence from process morphology in Guébie

Based on multiple distinct phonological processes in Guébie (Kru), I propose a model of constraint-based phonology that has access to specific morphosyntactic information to account for both affixal and process morphology. Specifically, I describe an instance of scalar tone shift and a process of phonologically determined noun class agreement, both which can be modeled in Cophonology Theory, where the phonology has access to morphosyntactic features. While any single morphophonological process in Gu ebie could be accounted for by one of many phonological models, looking across phenomena in a language allows us to find a single model that best accounts for many distinct processes.


January 30 -

Richard McGowan (Consulting and Research Services in the Physics of Human Speech)
Vocal Tract Scaling, Surface Curvature, Aerodynamics and the Development of Speech

If a child is to produce adult-like speech, then that child’s spectrogram should be a scaled version of that of an adult. This means that a child, whose vocal tract is scaled up by the ratio of its vocal tract length to that of an adult, should, at the very least, produce a sequence of area functions that resembles those of the adult, because formant frequencies are determined by area functions. We explore two types of difficulties that very young children (9 to 24 month old) could have in producing adult-like speech according to the scaled spectrogram criterion, described above. We state the first type of difficulty in terms of hypotheses regarding the curvature of the tongue surface. In two dimensions, curvature can be conceived to be a measure of “waviness” of a curve, and this measure can be applied to sagittal and lateral outlines, such as those of the tongue and palate surfaces. The hypotheses regard limitations on highly curved tongue outlines for children. It will be shown that these hypotheses are consistent with observations of children’s production of syllable-initial, strong /ɹ/, undifferentiated tongue gestures during velar stop, and the two sibilant fricatives of English with diminished acoustic distinction. The other kind of difficulty regards the fact that formant frequencies and some spectral properties of aerodynamic noise sources do not scale in the same way. This is illustrated with oft reported fronting of velar stop consonants in children. It is argued that the child cannot simultaneously produce the expected formant frequency pattern and the expected time evolution of the noise spectrum after the release of an aspirated velar consonant. If time permits, we speculate on the relation between back vowel variability in children and limits on tongue curvature, as well as findings on the relative sizes of the mouth and pharynx in the developing child. We conclude by emphasizing that physical detail should be considered when we study children’s speech development.


February 6 -

Emily Myers (University of Connecticut)
Individual Differences in Speech Sound Learning: Influences from Sleep, Brain, and Behavior

Speech perception is subject to critical/sensitive period effects, such that the acquisition of non-native (L2) speech sounds is far more difficult in adulthood than in childhood. Although adults can be trained to perceive differences among speech sounds that are not part of their native language, success is (1) variable across individuals, (2) variable across specific sounds to be learned, and (3) training may or may not generalize to untrained instances. Any theory of L2 speech perception must explain these three phenomena. Accounts of the L2 speech learning process have drawn from traditions in linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience, yet a full description of the barriers to perceptual learning of L2 sounds remains elusive. Evidence from our lab suggests that training on non-native sounds produces plastic effects in the brain regions involved in native-language perception, and that consolidation during sleep plays a large role in the degree to which training is maintained and generalizes to new talkers. Further, similar mechanisms may be at play when listeners learn to perceive non-standard tokens in the context of accented speech. Taken together, these findings suggest that speech perception is more plastic than critical period accounts would predict and that individual variability in brain structure and sleep behavior may predict some of the variability in ultimate L2 sound acquisition success.


February 13 -

Yevgeniy Melguy (UC Berkeley)
Exploring the Bilingual Phonological Space: Early Bilinguals’ Discrimination of Coronal Stop Contrasts

It is well known that the way monolingual listeners discriminate non-native speech sounds is strongly influenced by their native (L1) sound system (Best, McRoberts, & Goodell, 2001). Such perceptual constraints also apply to bilingual speakers, as several studies have shown (Antoniou, Best, & Tyler, 2013; Sebastián-Gallés & Soto-Faraco, 1999). However, the influence of language-specific categories on speech perception is less well-understood in the case of bilinguals, and the question of whether bilinguals simultaneously access both of their phonologies during non-native contrast discrimination has not been systematically examined. My study aimed to do so by testing the ability of early bilinguals to discriminate non-native phonetic contrasts consisting of sounds that exist in either their L1 or L2, but not in both. Using forced-choice discrimination and identification tasks, I compared the perceptual performance of Spanish-English bilinguals and English monolinguals on several dental-alveolar stop contrasts found in Nepali. Results showed that despite showing some sensitivity to phonetic differences between sounds, the bilinguals did not significantly differ from the English control group.


February 20 -

Presidents' Day (no meeting)