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


Mondays 2-3
1303 Dwinelle


Emily Clem

John Merrill

Berkeley Phonetics and Phonology Forum

Schedule of Talks for Fall 2015

Previous Meetings

August 31 -

Larry M. Hyman (UC Berkeley)
Why underlying representations?

September 7 -

No Meeting (Labor Day)

September 14 -

Phorum Phround Phrobin (Come Prepared!)

We invite you to come with a phonetic or phonological topic or some interesting data that you are prepared to discuss for 5-10 minutes. If you do not have a topic to present, come prepared to ask questions and discuss the data that others bring!

September 21 -

Article Discussion (Ph Journal Club)

Finley, Sara. 2015. Learning nonadjacent dependencies in phonology: transparent vowels in vowel harmony. Language 91:48-72.

September 28 -

Susan Lin & Ronald Sprouse (UC Berkeley)
Phonology Lab Demo

Note: Please meet in Dwinelle 52

Ronald Sprouse and Susan Lin will demonstrate the lab's ultrasound acquisition and aerodynamics/EGG systems.

October 5 -

Alan C. L. Yu (University of Chicago)
The production and perception of interspeaker variation

Recent studies have identified significant individual variation in coarticulation in speech. The nature of such inter-speaker variation remains unclear, however. In particular, is interspeaker variation in producing coarticulated speech stable over time? And how are inter-speaker variations in production related to the speaker's perception of coarticulated speech? This talk presents results from two recent studies which were designed to address these questions.

October 12 -

Meg Cychosz (UC Berkeley)
Variation in the signal: Social correlation in a completed sound change


October 19 -

Amalia Skilton (UC Berkeley)
Esoteric morphology: vocable affixes in Máíhɨ̃ki song

Many familiar poetic traditions allow poetry to depart structurally from other spoken and written registers in lexicon, syntax, and phonology. This talk explores a poetic genre associated with Máíhɨ̃ki (Western Tukanoan, Peru) in which practitioners primarily manipulate morphology to fit the message to the meter and index the text's participation in a poetic genre. I describe the metrical properties of this genre and the unique phonology and morphology of the vocable (referentially contentless) affixes which characterize it. This genre-specific morphology, I argue, fills an unpredicted gap in the typology of poetic manipulations of grammar.

October 26 -

Article Discussion (Ph Journal Club)

November 2 -

Roslyn Burns (UC Berkeley)
Vowel Shifts in New World Mennonite Communities: Phonetic Findings of Plautdietsch Dialects

This talk explores the nature of phonetic variation and social prominence of speech islands within the discontinuous North American Plautdietsch speech community. Plautdietsch was first documented in 1928 in Ukraine, and since this time, numerous sources provide evidence that the language is undergoing a large scale vowel shift which is not related to the traditional dialect division: Molotschna vs Chortitza. The significance of this vowel shift is often ignored in scholarly works because many of the works focus instead on the traditional division. The traditional Chortitza variety can be defined as having [+front] variants of certain vowels while the traditional Molotschna pronunciation has [-front] variants (e.g. Doag 'days' Chortitza [dœɐɣ]; Molotschna [doɐɣ]). According to the traditional view, a speaker's use of one dialect or the other is linked to whether their family resided in either the Chortitza or Molotschna village of Ukraine prior to settlement in the New World. Although Plautdietsch speakers from the New World are highly aware of a two way dialect division, features which serve to define the traditional divide have reorganized in some communities (e.g. Doag 'days' North Mexico Molotschna [dɛʊ] or [doɐɣ]; Southern Mexico Molotschna [dɛʊ] *[doɐɣ]). In this talk, I provide evidence that within the New World, there are emergent dialects zones which are identifiable based on how advanced the vowel shift is in a particular community. I provide evidence that features of the Mexican zone in particular are spreading to other regions of the New World due to the high social prominence of various Mexican groups.

November 9 -

Georgia Zellou (UC Davis)
Individual differences in production and perception of coarticulatory variation

The ‘misparsing’ of coarticulation as signifying a phonological feature has been long discussed as an avenue for phonetic-to-phonological change (Ohala, 1993). For example, a VN utterance produced with overlapping nasalization on the vowel might be misheard by a listener as an underlying nasal vowel, triggering sound reanalysis. Synchronic experimental evidence of partial perceptual compensation for coarticulation supports this possibility: while coarticulatory properties are factored out by the perceptual system, some of the acoustic effects of coarticulation remain perceptible (Beddor & Krakow, 1999). We aim address the question of what type of listener is prone to partial compensation and, hence, more likely to encode vowel nasality in English.

To that end, this talk discusses two studies examining individual differences in the perception and production of coarticulatory variation, focusing on the implications for sound change. In the first study, we investigate correlations between individual differences in the production of contextual nasalization with patterns of partial compensation for nasal coarticulation. We find that individuals who produce less extensive nasal coarticulation exhibit incomplete compensation in perceived stimuli—hypocoarticulators are more prone to accurately hearing vowels in context as phonetically nasalized. Meanwhile, individuals who produced more extensive nasal coarticulation were more likely to compensate fully for vowel nasalization in the context of a nasal consonant. In the second study, we examine individual differences in produced nasal coarticulation with patterns of imitation of increased or decreased degree of nasal coarticulation on heard stimuli. We find that individuals who produced less nasal coarticulation at baseline imitated increased nasality to a greater extent than hypercoarticulators; meanwhile, hypercoarticulators imitated decreased nasal coarticulation more strongly than hypocoarticulators.

Taken together, the results of this study suggest a strong connection between representations used to produce and perceive speech. These patterns indicate that same phonetic representations that guide pronunciation also serve as a perceptual filter: listeners try to map the incoming speech signal onto their own articulatory representations. The findings also have implications for the role of an individual in misperceiving coarticulatory detail as a mechanism for sound change—for example, listeners who are themselves hypocoarticulators are potentially more likely to phonologize nasal coarticulation.

November 16 -

Xianghua Wu (UC Berkeley (East Asian Languages and Cultures))
Perception of lexical tone as a phonetic and phonemic category

This talk reviews some of my research on tone perception. Research questions which are addressed in this talk include: 1) Based on pitch height and contour, can listeners distinguish lexical tones? Can listeners identify tonal categories in a tone language? 2) If two tones function as the same phoneme, what listeners tend to perceive them as being similar/same? 3) Can L1 tone experience transfer to L2 tone perception?

November 23 -

Article Discussion (Ph Journal Club)

Archangeli, Diana & Douglas Pulleyblank. 2014. Phonology as an emergent system.

November 30 -

Andries Coetzee (University of Michigan)
Patagonian Afrikaans: the early modern history of Afrikaans, language contact and change, language attrition and death

Note: Special time (11:00-12:00)

In this presentation, I will give a progress report on an ongoing project to document a unique variety of Afrikaans spoken in a small community in Patagonia, Argentina. The members of this community are the descendants of a group of around 600 Afrikaans speakers who left South Africa between 1902 and 1906. Until 1925, Afrikaans had no official status in South Africa, was not taught in schools and was rarely written so that there is relatively little documentary evidence about Afrikaans predating 1925. The South African government declared Afrikaans a language and replaced Dutch with Afrikaans as official language in 1925. Together with this change in status and recognition also came the inevitable standardization and loss of regional variety. Since the Patagonia speakers did not participate in this standardization process, their language has the potential to inform us about the early modern history of Afrikaans. I will explore some of the morphosyntactic, phonological and phonetic features of Patagonian Afrikaans (with a focus on the phonetic features), comparing these to current South African Afrikaans and Patagonian Spanish. I will discuss the difficulties of determining the source of differences between Patagonian and South African Afrikaans: Do these differences reflect remnants of an older pre-standardization form of Afrikaans, the result of internal developments in Patagonian Afrikaans, of attrition, or of contact with Spanish?

December 7 -

Wendell Kimper (The University of Manchester)
Toward a classification of Somali harmony sets: Some preliminary findings

The vowel system of Somali is commonly described as consisting of five vowels {i,e,a,o,u} each of which contrasts for length and for a feature that has been variously described as front/back, tense/lax, ±atr, and (aryepiglotallically) sphinctered/expanded (Armstrong, 1934; Andrzejewski, 1955; Orwin, 1994; Saeed, 1999; Edmondson et al. 2004). This latter contrast is of particular interest, since it is implicated in a system of vowel harmony which Andrzejewski (1955) describes as extending beyond word boundaries. However, the feature contrast itself is poorly understood --- it is neither represented orthographically nor noted in dictionaries, and relatively few lexical items have been described as belonging to one class or the other. The goal of the present study is to provide acoustic descriptions of the vowel classes in Somali that can be of use in (a) classifying lexical items whose class membership has not been previously described, and (b) developing a more complete description and analysis of the language's vowel harmony system.