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


Mondays 12-1
1303 Dwinelle


Emily Clem

John Merrill

Berkeley Phonetics and Phonology Forum

Schedule of Talks for Spring 2016

February 15 -

No Meeting (Presidents' Day)

February 22 -

Roslyn Burns (UC Berkeley)
Language contact and phonological borrowing: The case of Posen Low German

This talk explores the role of language contact in the development of consonants with secondary palatalization in the historical region of Posen (Polish Poznań). Linguistic documentation indicates that by the early 20th century, Low German spoken in Poznań and surrounding regions was in the process of losing secondary palatalization (Koerth 1913, 1914; Teuchert 1913). The loss of this articulation was due to the influence of Low German from other regions. Teuchert and Koerth are of the view that Polish played some role in the development of these consonants, but they are at a loss to explain how Polish had influenced the Low German. In this talk, I present evidence that secondary palatalization developed as the result of a Lechitic VC co-articulation rule being mapped onto the phoneme system of Low German. Differences between the output of the Lechitic rule in Polish and Low German are due to prioritization of Low German input features.

February 29 -

Susan Lin (UC Berkeley)

March 7 -

Neal Fox (UCSF)

March 14 -

Jeremy Steffman (UC Berkeley)

March 21 -

No Meeting (Spring Break)

March 28 -

Will Bennett (Rhodes University)

April 4 -

Adam Chong (UCLA)

April 11 -


April 18 -


April 25 -

Jonathan Manker (UC Berkeley)

Previous Meetings

January 25 -

Fernanda Ferreira (UC Davis)
Prediction in the processing of repair disfluencies

In recent work, we've been investigating how people interpret utterances containing repair disfluencies (e.g., 'The chef reached for some salt uh I mean some ketchup'). Our experiments involve presenting listeners with sentences at the same time that they are shown a small set of pictures. Eye movements are monitored and time-locked to different portions of the utterance to provide evidence concerning the incremental build-up of interpretations. One set of experiments has shown that listeners were more likely to fixate a critical distractor item (pepper) during the processing of repair disfluencies compared to the processing of coordination structures ('...some salt, and also some ketchup...'). In other experiments we have demonstrated that the pattern of fixations to the critical distractor for disfluency constructions is similar to fixation patterns for sentences employing contrastive focus (...not some salt, but rather some ketchup...). The results suggest that similar mechanisms underlie the processing of repair disfluencies and contrastive focus, with listeners generating sets of entities that stand in semantic contrast to the reparandum in the case of disfluencies or the negated entity in the case of contrastive focus.

February 1 -

Taja Stoll (LMU Munich)
Influence of palatalization on the tongue tip in liquids

It has been observed that palatalized trills are prone to undergo sound change, which is usually attributed to their complex articulation (Kavitskaya et al. 2009, Ladefoged and Maddieson 1996, Solé 2002, etc.). In this talk, I will present the results about the influence of palatalization on the tongue-tip gesture in Russian trills and laterals (by analyzing the tongue-tip peak velocity and stiffness by means of EMA) and discuss its possible consequence for sound change.

February 8 -

Stephanie Shih (UC Merced)
Lexically-conditioned phonology as multilevel grammar

This talk takes up two interrelated issues for lexically-conditioned phonological patterns: (1) how the grammar captures the range of phonological variation that stems from lexical conditioning, and (2) whether the relevant lexical categories needed by the grammar can be learned from surface patterns. Previous approaches to category-sensitive phonology have focused largely on constraining it; however, only a limited understanding currently exists of the quantitative space of variation possible (i.e., entropy) within a coherent grammar. In this talk, I present an approach that models lexically-conditioned phonology as cophonology subgrammars of indexed constraint weight adjustments (i.e., ‘varying slopes’) in multilevel Maximum Entropy Harmonic Grammar. This approach leverages the structure of multilevel statistical models to quantify the space of lexically-conditioned variation in natural language data, and allows for the deployment of information-theoretic model comparison to assess competing hypotheses of lexical categories. Two case studies are examined: part of speech-conditioned tone patterns in Mende (joint work with Sharon Inkelas, UCB), and lexical versus grammatical word prosodification in English. Both case studies bring to bear new quantitative evidence to classic category-sensitive phenomena. The results illustrate how the multilevel approach developed here can capture the probabilistic heterogeneity and learnability of lexical conditioning in a phonological system.

February 10 -

Florian Lionnet (UC Berkeley)
Phonological teamwork: A phonetically grounded account of cumulative effects in phonology

Note: Special day (Wednesday), time (10:00-11:00), and location (1229 Dwinelle)

Categorical phonological processes (e.g. assimilation) that seem to be driven by gradient, subphonemic effects traditionally considered to fall within the domain of phonetics (e.g. coarticulation), constitute a challenge for phonological theory. Such data raise the question of the nature of phonology and its relation with phonetic substance, which has given rise to a long debate in linguistic theory, schematically opposing two types of approaches to phonology: substance-free approaches, which hold that phonetic substance is not relevant to phonological theory, and phonetically grounded approaches, for which (at least some) phonological phenomena are rooted in natural phonetic processes, such as coarticulation.

In this talk, I argue in favor of phonetic grounding, on the basis of novel data relevant to this debate: 'phonological teamwork', a cumulative effect which obtains when two segments exerting the same subphonemic coarticulatory effect may trigger a categorical phonological process (e.g. assimilation) only if they 'team up' and add their coarticulatory strengths in order to pass the threshold necessary for that process to occur. Drawing from original fieldwork, I analyze a particularly rich case of teamwork: the doubly triggered rounding harmony of Laal (endangered isolate, Chad). I provide instrumental evidence that the harmony is driven by subphonemic coarticulatory effects, and propose to enrich phonology with phonetically grounded representations of such effects, called subfeatures. Subfeatures do not contradict the separation between phonology and phonetics, but rather constitute a mediating interface between them. Throughout the talk, I highlight the importance of linguistic fieldwork, meticulous data collection and analysis, and detailed description of seemingly minor phenomena, for contributing to important theoretical debates.