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Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
This dissertation compares the lexical tone perception abilities of two populations with different bilingual configurations: Cantonese-dominant adults who grew up in Hong Kong (referred to as homeland speakers), and English-dominant adults who grew up in a Cantonese-speaking household in Canada (heritage speakers). From infancy both were exposed to Cantonese as a first language in terms of chronological order; however, after the onset of schooling, each became dominant in the majority language of their respective society. Given this background, this study investigates whether heritage speakers' perception of lexical tones of a non-dominant first language (Cantonese) exhibits cross-language effects from a dominant second language (English) that does not have a contrastive dimension of tone. A series of perception experiments was conducted using the word identification paradigm. Eight types of audio stimuli were presented to homeland and heritage speakers (N=34 per group), each of which represented a specific configuration of four variables: whether the acoustic signal contained segmental and tonal information, whether the target word was isolated or embedded in a carrier sentence with semantic context, and whether the meaning of the target word was congruous with the carrier sentence. In each trial, participants saw pictures of the target word and minimally contrastive tonal competitors, and were instructed to choose the picture that represented what they heard.Major findings of this study were: (1) among the eight stimulus types, the accuracy gap between the two groups was the biggest when the stimuli were low-pass-filtered monosyllables with no segmental information or semantic context, which suggests that homeland speakers have a significantly greater ability to identify tonally contrastive words by solely relying on tonal information. (2) Both groups showed confusion of overlapping subsets of tone pairs, but heritage speakers had a higher error percentage, which indicates a quantitative but not qualitative difference between the two groups. (3) When the target word was semantically incongruous with the carrier sentence, homeland speakers outperformed heritage speakers by attending to acoustic information, while heritage speakers relied on semantic information relatively more often. In other words, the two groups used different listening strategies in tone identification.
In many languages of the world, the form of individual words can undergo systematic variation in order to express concepts including tense, gender, and relative social status. Accurate models of these inflectional systems, such as verb conjugation and noun declension systems, are indispensable for purposes of both languageresearch and language technology development. This dissertation presents a theoretical framework for understanding and predicting native speakers’ use of their languages’ inflectional systems. I propose a probabilistic interpretation of the task that speakers face when inferring unfamiliar inflected forms, and I argue in favor of a Bayesian approach to modeling this task. Specifically, I develop the theory of sublexical morphology, which augments the Bayesian approach with intuitive methods for calculating necessary probabilities. Sublexical morphology also possesses the virtue of computational implementability: this dissertation defines all data structures used in sublexical morphology, and it specifies the procedures necessary to use a model for morphological inference. I provide along with this dissertation a Python package that implements all the classes and methods necessary to perform inference with a sublexical morphology model. I also describe an implemented learning algorithm that allows induction of sublexical morphology models from labeled but unparsed training data. As empirical support for my core claims, I describe the outcomes of two behavioral experiments. Evidence from a test of Icelandic speakers’ inflection of novelwords demonstrates that speakers are able to additively make use of informationfrom multiple provided inflected forms of a word, and evidence from a similar teston Polish speakers suggests that speakers may be limited to this additive way ofcombining such pieces of information. In clear support of a Bayesian interpretationof morphological inference, both experiments additionally demonstrate that priorprobabilities—understood as reflecting lexical frequencies of different groupingsof words—play a major role in speakers’ use of their inflectional systems. This isshown to be true even when influence from prior probabilities results in speakersapparently deviating from exceptionless lexical patterns in those systems.
No abstract available.
The aim of this dissertation is (i) to contribute to understanding of [ATR] harmony patterns with a formal account of Dagbani [ATR] harmony using the theory of Headed Spans (Span Theory) and (ii) to answer basic empirical questions about the relations between tongue-root phonological features and the articulatory gestures involved in producing vowels with these features.In Dagbani [+ATR] harmony, there are three vowel triggers: the high front vowel /i/ triggers progressive assimilation of [+ATR]; the mid vowels [e] and [o] trigger regressive assimilation. Mid vowel triggers predictably surface in domain-final open syllables while /i/ is contrastive. I account for [+ATR] harmony using the theory of Grounded Phonology and the interaction of height-based markedness constraint hierarchies. In addition to the basic harmonic patterns, Dagbani [ATR] harmony is constrained by a height similarity condition limiting the trigger and target to vowels of the same specification for [±high]. Within Span Theory, this is argued to be a restriction on height featural combination in a [+ATR] span. A unique part of the formal analysis is the account of direction-specific consonant opacity. Having challenged previous harmony theories, the account here demonstrates the relative strength of Span Theory and supports the assumption that intervocalic consonants are targets of vowel harmony features.The second goal of the dissertation is achieved with an ultrasound imaging study testing the hypothesis that there is a direct mapping between tongue-root features and the articulatory positions of the tongue in producing vowels with different tongue-root feature specifications. It further investigates whether such a mapping also reflects which of the values of the feature [ATR]/[RTR] is dominant in a language. The results of 5 experiments show that in addition to the tongue-root position distinguishing [+ATR] from[-ATR] vowels, the dominant [+ATR] feature has a tongue-root position anterior to the neutral tongue-root rest position while the recessive [-ATR] vowels have a variable tongue-root position. The results support a direct mapping between the phonological feature [ATR] and the articulatory gestures that produce it.
This thesis investigates how Shona, an African language spoken in Zimbabwe deals with potentially onsetless syllables (heterosyllabic VV sequences & initial onsetless syllables) and subminimal words. The thesis focuses on the morphophonemics of Karanga and Zezuru—the two principal dialects of Shona. Karanga and Zezuru morphophonemic processes observed in this thesis have only one primary goal; to achieve the typical or preferred Shona phonological structures—the consonant-vowel (CV) syllable and the disyllabic Prosodic Word. Often, when morphemes are concatenated, the resultant phonological structures do not conform to these typical structures. The study examines the repair strategies that Karanga and Zezuru employ to achieve the CV syllable and the disyllabic Prosodic Word. The overall analysis is couched in Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky (2004 .Hiatus resolution strategies are conditioned by prosodic domains/boundaries, and a detailed prosodic parsing is required to account for this phenomenon. The Prosodic Stem, Prosodic Word and the Clitic Group are the prosodic domains relevant for this study. Owing to the impossibility of unifying the cliticization and coalescence facts with the other strategies in a single constraint ranking, two strata are posited—the Word (lexical) and the Phrasal (Postlexical) using the Lexical Phonology and Morphology-Optimality Theory (Kiparsky 2000, 2003). At the Word level, Glide formation is the default strategy, and at the Phrasal level, it is coalescence. Employing the Clements and Hume (1995) Unified Feature Geometry model, with the addition of the feature [pharyngeal], all the hiatus-breakers [j w ʔ ɦ] are analyzed as products of spreading.Karanga and Zezuru display greater variation with respect to prosodic minimality and initial onsetless syllables than in hiatus resolution. It is argued that Zezuru enforces WORD MINIMALITY at the expense of ONSET, and Karanga enforces ONSET at the expense of WORD MINIMALITY. Karanga displays internal variation; it allows initial onsetless syllables in function words but not in lexical ones. Based on tone, reduplication, minimality and cliticization, initial onsetless syllables are argued to be morified, syllabified and not extra-prosodic and therefore do not warrant any special representation.
No abstract available.
This thesis tests the prediction of the Prosodic Hierarchy model that distinct phonological domains have distinct acoustic characteristics. Specifically, I test the prediction that if non-exhaustively parsed structures are permitted by the model, there should be converging phonological and phonetic evidence that distinguishes them from exhaustively parsed domains. Little phonological and no phonetic evidence has previously been provided to substantiate the proposed structures. I introduce the term ‘extrapod’ to refer to syllables that are not parsed at the foot level and present phonological and phonetic evidence from St’át’imcets (Lillooet Salish) that shows that extrapods are distinguished from exhaustively parsed domains, as predicted. Empirically, this thesis presents the first phonetic documentation of the prosody of St’át’imcets, including phrase-level intonation, stress and boundary effects. The results of this research are intended to both add to the documentation of an endangered language and benefit the community.Theoretically, this thesis confirms a previously untested prediction of current models of prosody, namely that non-exhaustively parsed structures are distinct from exhaustively parsed structures. Results from the investigation of segmental phonological processes, and acoustic correlates of prominence and boundary strength, support a weak but constrained interpretation of the phonetics-phonology mapping.Methodologically, this thesis develops protocols that elicit rigorous phonetic data while being suitable for fieldwork with First Nations elders, and that can be easily adapted into language teaching materials. The combination of verbal and pictoral contexts allows for controlled repetitions of tokens in natural linguistic contexts and provides materials that can be adapted for classroom use.
This thesis deals with the phonology of Gitksan, a Tsimshianic language spoken innorthern British Columbia, Canada. The claim of this thesis is that Gitksan exhibits severalgradient phonological restrictions on consonantal cooccurrence that hold over the lexicon.There is a gradient restriction on homorganic consonants, and within homorganic pairs, thereis a gradient restriction on major class and manner features. It is claimed that theserestrictions are due to a generalized OCP effect in the grammar, and that this effect can berelativized to subsidiary features, such as place, manner, etc. It is argued that these types ofeffects are best analyzed with the system of weighted constraints employed in HarmonicGrammar (Legendre et al. 1990, Smolensky & Legendre 2006).It is also claimed that Gitksan exhibits a gradient assimilatory effect among specificconsonants. This type of effect is rare, and is unexpected given the general conditions ofdissimilation. One such effect is the frequency of both pulmonic pairs of consonants andejective pairs of consonants, which occur at rates higher than expected by chance. Another isthe occurrence of uvular-uvular and velar-velar pairs of consonants, which also occur at rateshigher than chance. This pattern is somewhat surprising, as there is a gradient prohibition oncooccurring pairs of dorsal consonants. These assimilatory patterns are analyzed using theAgreement by Correspondence approach (Hansson 2001, Rose & Walker 2004), whichmandates that output correspondents agree for some phonological feature.The general discussion of assimilation and dissimilation is continued inmorphological contexts, such as reduplication. It is claimed there are differences in thegradient and categorical patterns of assimilation and dissimilation in Coast Tsimshian andGitksan reduplicative contexts. A summary of the attested reduplicative patterns in thelanguages, as well as results from a nonce-probe task, supports this claim. This differencebetween Coast Tsimshian and Gitksan is indicative of a larger difference in the reduplicativepatterns of the languages of the Tsimshianic family: each member of the family exhibitsslightly different patterns of deglottalization. A typological study of these patterns suggeststhat glottalized sonorants and obstruents are fundamentally different segment types.