Tag Archives: Phonology
6/27 Janet Pierrehumbert (Sapir Professor): “Lexical Variability”


Janet Pierrehumbert, Northwestern University
2013 Linguistic Institute’s Edward Sapir Professor
Thursday, June 27, 2013 7:00 pm
Askwith Auditorium, Lorch Hall
Reception to follow


Read Abstract

Words are the nexus of the relation between form and meaning in language, and a rich lexicon is a hallmark of the intelligence of the human species. Words support cooperation amongst people by enabling them to share complex information about other times and places, abstract ideas, and emotions and social judgments. These facts motivate a large and fruitful body of research on how  shared vocabularies arise in linguistic communities, and how children acquire the vocabulary of the language spoken around them.  This emphasis on lexical convergence, however,  abstracts away from significant differences across speakers  in the total inventory of words, their abstract representations, their detailed phonetics,  and their patterns of use in context.  Equally,  it abstracts away from variation across words in who knows them, when and where they are used, and how they are pronounced. It  begs the question of  how the vocabularies of languages keep changing even after  a shared norm is in place.

This talk will document an assortment of cases of lexical variability, which touch on levels of linguistic representation from phonetics to pragmatics.  All  involve the interaction of cognitive and social factors in learning, remembering, and producing words. I will discuss these cases in the context of computational models of language acquisition and change.  I conclude by  developing a connection between synchronic variation and the robustness and  adaptability of language over time.

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7/12 Universality and Variability in Segment-Prosody Interactions

July 12, 2013
2407 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Marzena Żygis (zygis@zas.gwz-berlin.de)

Click here for Workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Christine Mooshammer (USC, Los Angeles, tine@haskins.yale.edu)
Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (MIT, sshuf@MIT.EDU)
Marzena Żygis (Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) & Humboldt University, Berlin, zygis@zas.gwz-berlin.de)

Several studies on universals in phonology and phonetics pertain either to segmentals (e.g. sound frequencies, gaps in inventories, preferences for certain cluster types) or supra-segmentals (e.g. preferences in stress and intonational patterns). In recent years, accumulating evidence has suggested that language-specific interactions between the two levels can induce systematic temporal and qualitative variability on the segmental level. For example, most sounds lengthen substantially following a phrase boundary, but there are exceptions such as the sibilants; lax vowels do not lengthen under stress; and glottal stop insertion also depends on the quality of the following vowel. This workshop is aimed at gaining more insight into the interdependence of the segmental and prosodic levels from a cross-linguistic perspective. Papers which deal with the following questions are of particular importance:

(i) What patterns of segmental and supra-segmental interactions are found cross-linguistically?

(ii) How does metrical structure influence segments, phonotactics and phonological processes?

(iii) What principles govern segment-specific variation due to prosodic effects, e.g. localized hyper articulation, feature enhancement, syntagmatic dissimilation or prominence enhancement?

(iv) Why do some segments or larger units resist the more global prosodic variations, e.g. in order to maintain a contrast?

(v) How do different models deal with the segmental-prosodic variation, e.g. Exemplar Theory (Pierrehumbert 2001), pi-gesture model (Byrd & Saltzmann 2003), (bidirectional) OT (Boersma 1998) and others?

Invited speakers:
Laura Dilley, Michigan State University
Paul de Lacy, Rutgers University
Jelena Krivokapic, Haskins Labs



7/14 How the Brain Accommodates Variability in Linguistic Representations

July 14, 2013
Aud C, Angell Hall

Organizer Contact: T. Florian Jaeger (fjaeger@bcs.rochester.edu)

Click here for workshop website.

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Articulatory Phonology

Khalil Iskarous – University of Southern California
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm

See Course Description

Articulatory Phonology (AP) is a view of the sound structure of a language that tries to account both for its abstract aspect, contrast and pattern, as well as its physical realization in speech production and perception. And it does so without assuming a dualistic mind-body distinction between phonology-phonetics. The key aspect of AP that allows is to be non-dualistic is a dynamical framework that allows for a principled (non-arbitrary) relation between symbolic/discrete entities and continuous motion. This course will start by introducing students to the dynamical framework of task dynamics, and how contrasts and patterns are expressed in this framework. Students will also be introduced to TaDa, a computational engine allowing for the derivation of continuous motion of articulators and formants from an utterance described in terms of overlapped elementary contrasts, expressed as gestures. Segmental and prosodic phonology will be discussed in combination with each other throughout the course.

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Structure and Evolution of the Lexicon

Janet Pierrehumbert – Northwestern University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2353 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This class will explore the basic principles that create and sustain the richness of the lexicon in human languages. We will consider how new words are created, how they are learned, and how they are replicated through social interactions in human communities. Empirical data will be drawn from classical sources, from language on the Internet, and from computer-based “games with a purpose”. Using concepts from research on population biology and social dynamics, we will also discuss mathematical approaches to modeling the life and death of words.

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