The Berkeley Phonetics & Phonology Forum ("Phorum") is a weekly talk and discussion series featuring presentations on all aspects of phonology and phonetics.
This study examines the production, perception and processing of the Catalan /e/-/ɛ/ and /o/-/ɔ/ vowel contrasts by 60 Spanish-Catalan bilinguals in Majorca (Spain). Results from picture-naming, identification, AX discrimination, and lexical decision tasks show that even though these early and highly proficient bilinguals maintain robust mid-vowel contrasts in their productions and demonstrate a high accuracy in perceptual identification and discrimination tasks, they have difficulties distinguishing between words and non-words in a lexical decision task. These findings provide evidence that making explicit judgments regarding whether a certain sound belongs to a phonemic category (i.e., as accomplished via identification and discrimination tasks) does not entail that listeners have an appropriate representation at the lexical level.
Umlaut in modern West Germanic languages is understood as a phonologically motivated alternation of a set of vowels in given morphological environments wherein non-front vowels gain the feature [+front]. In Germanic languages, morphological umlaut is frequently distinguished from other types of ablaut alternations as the latter did not develop from a harmony process, therefore there is no expected phonological uniformity between the input-output relations of stem vowels. In this talk, I examine the phonological properties of input-output relations of nominal plural and adjective degree vowel alternation in the West Germanic language Plautdietsch (PDT). While a majority of the alternations ultimately come from Middle Low German umlaut, the system of alternations varies quite considerably from traditional accounts of umlaut in the rest of the family. One of the most striking features of umlaut is that not all outputs are [+front]. PDT vowel alternations are not uniform across the entire system of vowels: some sub-classes of alternations allow feature specifications not found in the input and others do not appear to have a clear featural motivation. I take the position that the vowel alternations in PDT system are best understood as synchronically opaque reflexes of diachronic developments which lie part way between an umlaut system and an ablaut system.