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Aspects of Pulaar syntax: Morpho-syntax of pronouns and relative clauses.

Ibrahim Ba. Éditions Universitaires Européennes.

This book provides a few aspects of Pulaar morpho-syntax. The first chapter gives a descriptive account of Pulaar pronouns. Specifically, I examine the different pronominal paradigms in Pulaar and explore their morpho-syntax and semantics. In the second chapter, I show that Headed Relative Clauses (RC) and Factive Clauses have similar structure in sense that they have a similar word order and in all of them the complementizer agrees with the (null or overt) head NP in Spec,CP and is homophonous with the determiner. In this regard, the slight difference is that the Headed Relative has an overt head noun whereas Factives have null head nouns. Moreover, the verb has the same form both in Headed Relatives and Factive Relatives and it undergoes the same agreement pattern. Furthermore, the Headed Relative and Factives in Pulaar all exhibit island conditions in that extraction out of either constructions; which indicates that they all involve movements of some sort, as shown in the analysis.The Headed Relative and Factive Relatives are derived in similar ways along the lines of Kayne(1994).

Priming the representation of Mandarin tone 3 sandhi.

Yu-Fu Chien, Joan Sereno, and Jie Zhang. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. 

Phonological alternation poses problems for spoken word recognition. In Mandarin Tone 3 sandhi, a Tone 3 syllable changes to a Tone 2 syllable when followed by another Tone 3 syllable. A traditional phonological account assumes that the initial syllable of Mandarin disyllabic sandhi words is Tone 3 (T3) underlyingly, but becomes Tone 2 (T2) on the surface. In an auditory–auditory priming lexical decision experiment, each disyllabic tone sandhi target word (e.g., chu3-li3) was preceded by one of three monosyllabic primes: a T2 prime (Surface-Tone overlap) (chu2), a T3 prime (Underlying-Tone overlap) (chu3), or a control prime (Baseline condition) (chu1). Results showed that Tone 3 primes (Underlying-Tone) elicited significantly stronger facilitation effects for the sandhi targets than Tone 2 primes (Surface-Tone), with little effect of target frequency. The data are examined in terms of the contribution of underlying representations for models of spoken word recognition.

What's in a word: Observing the contribution of underlying and surface representations.

Yu-Fu Chien, Joan Sereno, and Jie Zhang. Language and Speech.

Abstract underlying representations play a crucial role in capturing predictable relations among different phonetic categories in phonological theory. Tone sandhi is a tonal alternation phenomenon in which a tone changes to a different tone in certain phonological environments. This study investigates whether Taiwanese listeners are more sensitive to the surface form of the tones or the underlying tonal representations of tone sandhi words. An auditory lexical decision experiment was conducted to examine priming effects between monosyllabic primes and disyllabic target words (tone sandhi T51 → T55 and sandhi T24 → T33). Each target was preceded by either a surface-tone prime (e.g., ping55-ping55tsun24; pue33-pue33jong51), an underlying-tone prime (e.g., ping51-ping55tsun24; pue24-pue33jong51), or an unrelated control (e.g., ping21-ping55tsun24; pue21-pue33jong51). Results showed significant differences in the natue of the priming effects across the two sandhi types, with productivity of the tone sandhi rule influencing how listeners’ process and represent tone sandhi words.

The timing of acoustic vs. perceptual availability of segmental and suprasegmental information. 


Katrina Connell, Annie Tremblay, and Jie Zhang. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages.

This study investigates the timing of perception of segmental and suprasegmental information. Recent priming research suggests that tonal information may be used at a later word recognition stage than segmental information. This study examines whether this delay may instead stem from a lower, psycho-acoustic perception level. Native Chinese listeners and native English listeners without knowledge of tone languages completed a gated AX-discrimination task where they heard increasingly large fragments of Chinese word pairs that differed only in tones or only in segments. The gates where listeners perceived the contrasts were compared after factoring out differences in when the contrasts became reliably present in the acoustic signal. The results of both groups show that the perception of tonal information is delayed compared to the perception of segmental information, with English listeners showing a larger delay than Chinese listeners.

Effects of native language on the use of segmental and suprasegmental cues to stress in English word recognition.

Katrina Connell, Hüls, Maria Teresa Martínez-García, Zhen Qin, Seulgi Shin, Hanbo Yan, and Annie Tremblay. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 

This study investigates whether the presence of lexical stress in the native language (L1) determines second-language (L2) learners’ ability to use stress in L2 lexical access. It focuses on (standard Mandarin) Chinese and (Seoul) Korean listeners’ (and native English listeners’) use of segmental and suprasegmental cues to stress in English word recognition. Stress placement in English is signaled by segmental (vowelreduction) and suprasegmental (fundamental frequency, duration, and intensity) cues. Chinese has full-full and full-reduced words that differ in stress placement, with segmental and suprasegmental cues signaling stress. By contrast, Korean does not have lexical stress. Participants completed an eye-tracking experiment. They heard stimuli containing a target word with initial stress (parrot), and saw four orthographic words in the display, including the target and one of two competitors (stress match: parish; stress mismatch: parade). The first syllable of the target and stress-mismatch competitor differed in both segmental and suprasegmental information (parrot-parade) or only in suprasegmental information (mystic-mistake). Growth-curve analyses on fixations revealed that only Chinese and English listeners used stress to recognize English words, confirming L1 effects on the use of stress in L2 lexical access. Furthermore, only English listeners made greater use of stress in the presence of vowel reduction.

Comprehension of mimetics by adult native speakers of Japanese. 

Patrick Connelly, Utako Minai, and Alison Gabriele. Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics. 

Linguistics traditionally regards the relationship between a word’s sound and its meaning as arbitrary; words which systematically relate sound and meaning – ‘sound-symbolic’ or ‘mimetic’ words – have been regarded as peripheral (Imai and Kita, 2014); however, increasingly, research has found that languages such as Japanese have highly developed and grammatically integrated lexical strata devoted to mimetic words (Hamano, 1998; Tsujimura, 2001, 2005; Tsujimura and Deguchi, 2003). In Japanese, Akita (2010) has posited that among mimetics that denote internal states (‘psychomimes’), three categories can be identified based on semantic, morphosyntactic, and syntactic properties. With respect to syntax, Akita proposes that compatibility with locus noun phrases constitutes a syntactic constraint on these mimetic classes’ naturalness that can serve to discriminate the three classes. In this experiment, we sought to find empirical evidence for this claim by way of native speakers’ judgment of the naturalness of mimetics in sentences according to a five-point scale. Our results provided empirical support for Akita’s claim, indicating that her categorization might indeed be a psychological reality for native speakers of Japanese.

Can learners use morphosyntactic cues to facilitate processing: Evidence from gender agreement in Hidi. 

Lauren Covey, Alison Gabriele, and Robert Fiorentino. Language Acquisition 

This study investigates L2 learners’ ability to use morphosyntactic gender as a predictive cue during the processing of Hindi agreement dependencies. Nine L2 learners of low-intermediate proficiency and nine highly proficient multilingual speakers who consider Hindi one of their dominant languages were tested using a speeded picture-selection task. Results indicate that both L2 learners and multilingual speakers of Hindi used gender information to rapidly facilitate access to a target noun during processing, although because the facilitative effects were at the target noun, rather than preceding it, these facilitative effects do not provide unambiguous evidence for prediction. Participants’ processing speed in a control condition was also correlated with sensitivity to the gender cue, which is in line with accounts that posit that the ability to use linguistic cues during processing is modulated by individual differences.

Special issue: Phonology in the bilingual and bidialectal lexicon. 

Isabelle Darcy, Miquel Simonet, and Annie Tremblay. Frontiers in Psychology.

One critical step when trying to comprehend a spoken message is to identify the words that the speaker intended. To recognize spoken words, listeners continuously attempt to map the incoming speech signal onto lexical representations stored in memory (McClelland and Elman, 1986; Norris, 1994): Words that partially overlap with the signal are activated until the lexical candidate that best matches the input wins over its competitors, a process known as lexical competition. Models of spoken-word recognition, most of which are based on native listener behavior, assume that lexical representations are stable, and contain at least the phonological form of words in citation. While lexical representations likely also contain other forms, for example the reduced forms found in conversational speech, it is a matter of debate whether native listeners encode spoken words exclusively as phonetically detailed exemplars (Johnson, 1997; Goldinger, 1998) or whether phonological abstraction also takes place (McQueen et al., 2006). Another assumption of models of native spoken-word recognition is that, under normal circumstances, listeners' perception of the input is optimal and faithful to the signal: Accurate lexical representations are easily contacted, and an optimal set of candidates is activated for quick lexical selection.

Morphological decomposition in de-adjectival nominals in Japanese: Masked and overt priming evidence.

Robert Fiorentino, Yuka Naito-Billen, and Utako Minai.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.

Whether morpheme-based processing extends to relatively unproductive derived words remains a matter of debate. Although whole-word storage and access has been proposed for some derived words, such as Japanese de-adjectival nominals with the unproductive (-mi) suffix (e.g., Hagiwara et al. in Language 75:739–763, 1999), Clahsen and Ikemoto (Ment Lex 7:147–182, 2012) found masked priming from de-adjectival nominals with productive (-sa) and unproductive (-mi) suffixes to their adjectivally-inflected base morpheme. Using masked and unmasked priming, we examine whether adjectivally-inflected base morpheme primes facilitate the processing of Japanese de-adjectival nominal targets with a productive or unproductive affix, including an orthographic-overlap condition and semantic relatedness measure that Clahsen and Ikemoto (2012) did not include. Our results replicate and extend Clahsen and Ikemoto (2012), revealing significant, statistically-equivalent morphological priming effects for -sa and -mi affixed targets, independent of orthographic and semantic relatednesss, suggesting that the processing of derived words with the unproductive -mi affix makes recourse to morpheme-level representations.

Understanding the symptoms and sources of variability in second language sentence processing.

Alison Gabriele, Robert Fiorentino, and Lauren Covey. Bilingualism: Language and Co.

Cunnings (2016) proposes that differences between native (L1) and second language (L2) sentence processing can best be explained in terms of susceptibility to effects of interference and an overreliance on discourse level cues during memory retrieval. Cunnings’ argument that difficulty in retrieval operations may provide a better explanation than a syntactic deficit account for explaining certain L1-L2 differences is convincing. However, the proposal for the ‘overuse’ of discourse is too broad and needs to be refined in terms of the specific contexts and conditions under which learners have difficulty. We also believe that difficulty with cue-based retrieval is still a characterization of the symptoms of differences between L1-L2 processing, and does not necessarily address the source of the variability.

Linguistic proficiency assessment in second language acquisition research: The elicited imitation task.

Stéphanie Gaillard and Annie Tremblay. Language Learning.

This study investigated the elicited imitation task (EIT) as a tool for measuring linguistic proficiency in a second/foreign (L2) language, focusing on French. Nonnative French speakers (n = 94) and native French speakers (n = 6) completed an EIT that included 50 sentences varying in length and complexity. Three raters evaluated productions on five scales: meaning, syntax, morphology, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Participants also completed a cloze test and a language background questionnaire. Results from regression and principal component analyses showed a strong relationship between EIT performance and cloze test scores and significant relationships between EIT performance, sentence length, and learners’ knowledge of and experience with French. Ratings were internally consistent, and all test items discriminated well between lower- and higher-level learners. We argue that this EIT exhibits good validity and reliability, discriminates among French learners of different proficiencies, and is a practical tool for L2 proficiency assessment.

Cross-modal priming differences between native and nonnative Spanish speakers

Wendy Herd, Joan Sereno, and Allard Jongman. Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, 8 (1), 135 – 155.

Training has been shown to improve American English speakers’ perception and production of the Spanish /ɾ, r, d/ contrast; however, it is unclear whether successfully trained contrasts are encoded in the lexicon. This study investigates whether learners of Spanish process the /ɾ, r, d/ contrast differently than native speakers and whether training affects processing. Using a cross-modal priming design, thirty-three Spanish learners were compared to ten native Spanish speakers. For native speakers, auditory primes with intervocalic taps (like [koɾo]) resulted in faster reaction times in response to matching visual targets (like coro) than to orthographically and phonemically similar targets (like corro and codo). American English speakers’ reaction times were not affected by the relationship between primes and targets before training. After training, trainees responded more quickly to matching targets than to mismatching /ɾ/-/r/ prime-targets (e.g., [koɾo] followed by corro) while controls’ reaction time patterns did not change. This indicates that native Spanish speakers and Spanish learners process words containing the /ɾ, r, d/ contrast differently and that improvements from training can be encoded in the lexicon.

Children's knowledge of structure-dependent semantic interactions between logical words.

Adrienne Johnson and Utako Minai. Language Acquisition.

The current study examined preschool children’s ability to evaluate the entailment patterns yielded by sentences containing two downward entailing (DE) operators, every and no. When no precedes every, the entailment pattern typically licensed by every changes, but only if no also c-commands every in the hierarchical structure of the sentence. While children had been shown to be sensitive to the effect of a preceding and c-commanding negation on every, it had not been shown whether children were sensitive to the c-command relation between these elements or simply to their linear order. We demonstrate that children’s evaluation of the entailment patterns engendered by sentences with no and every makes recourse to hierarchical structural representations. These findings run counter to models positing that young children lack such representations and instead suggest that young children possess both detailed syntactic representations and knowledge of logical operators such as no and every.

Syntactic constraints and individual differences in native and non-native processing of wh-movement.

Adrienne Johnson, Robert Fiorentino, and Alison Gabriele. Frontiers in Psychology.

There is a debate as to whether second language (L2) learners show qualitatively similar processing profiles as native speakers or whether L2 learners are restricted in their ability to use syntactic information during online processing. In the realm of wh-dependency resolution, research has examined whether learners, similar to native speakers, attempt to resolve wh-dependencies in grammatically licensed contexts but avoid positing gaps in illicit contexts such as islands. Also at issue is whether the avoidance of gap filling in islands is due to adherence to syntactic constraints or whether islands simply present processing bottlenecks. One approach has been to examine the relationship between processing abilities and the establishment of wh-dependencies in islands. Grammatical accounts of islands do not predict such a relationship as the parser should simply not predict gaps in illicit contexts. In contrast, a pattern of results showing that individuals with more processing resources are better able to establish wh-dependencies in islands could conceivably be compatible with certain processing accounts. In a self-paced reading experiment which examines the processing of wh-dependencies, we address both questions, examining whether native English speakers and Korean learners of English show qualitatively similar patterns and whether there is a relationship between working memory, as measured by counting span and reading span, and processing in both island and non-island contexts. The results of the self-paced reading experiment suggest that learners can use syntactic information on the same timecourse as native speakers, showing qualitative similarity between the two groups. Results of regression analyses did not reveal a significant relationship between working memory and the establishment of wh-dependencies in islands but we did observe significant relationships between working memory and the processing of licit wh-dependencies. As the contexts in which these relationships emerged differed for learners and native speakers, our results call for further research examining individual differences in dependency resolution in both populations.

On invariance: Acoustic input meets listener expectations. 

Allard Jongman and Bob McMurray. The Speech Processing Lexicon: Neurocognitive and behavioural approaches.

Speech perception has been classically framed in terms of the widespread variability in speech acoustics. Factors like speaking rate, coarticulation, and speaker affect virtually all phonetic measurements or “cues”. However, our understanding of this problem has been built on the basis of small-scale phonetic work, one cue and context at a time. We present findings based on a large corpus of fricatives that suggest that the massive variability in speech may not be insurmountable, but rather can be described as the simple additive product of multiple known factors. At any given moment, listeners have expectations about the anticipated value of cues like formant frequency or fricative spectrum as a function of contextual factors like talker and vowel. Perception is then based on the difference between the actual cue values heard and these expectations. We briefly describe two additional experiments that demonstrate that manipulation of listeners’ expectations can change the accuracy of fricative identification, and improve listeners’ ability to predict the subsequent vowel. Finally, we present new data on the relative contributions of place and voicing cues which suggest that there are several acoustic cues that can be considered invariant. However, this information alone is not sufficient to account for listeners’ identification of fricatives. To approximate the performance of human listeners requires many cues, and these cues need to be interpreted relative to expectations derived from context.

Just noticeable differences for pitch height and pitch contour for Chinese and English listeners.

Allard Jongman, Zhen Qin, Jie Zhang, and Joan Sereno. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Previous studies suggest that Chinese listeners may be more sensitive to pitch direction while American listeners primarily attend to pitch height. The present study sought to establish JNDs for pitch discrimination using a three-interval, forced-choice procedure with a two-down, one-up staircase design (cf. Liu, JASA 2013). We manipulated a high rising and a high falling Mandarin tone produced by a female speaker. Specifically, for pitch height, a standard contour rising from 200 Hz at tone onset to 230 Hz at tone offset was paired with deviants that were parallel to the standard but started (and ended) at lower and higher f0 values (onsets ranging from 185 to 215 Hz in 1 Hz steps). Likewise, a standard contour falling from 200 Hz at tone onset to 170 Hz at tone offset was paired with parallel deviants whose onsets ranged from 215 to 185 Hz. For pitch direction, standard rising and falling contours were paired with deviants with either steeper or shallower slopes, again varying in 1 Hz steps. Results indicate that, overall, Chinese listeners are more sensitive to pitchdirection and American listeners to pitch height. However, these effects are modulated by both the direction (falling/rising) and steepness of the contours.

Prominence shifts in English and Spanish parallel constructions. 

Jeffrey Klassen, Michael Wagner, Annie Tremblay, and Heather Goad. Proceedings of the 20th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue.

Certain information theoretical distinc- tions that are encoded by prosody in En- glish are encoded by word order in Span- ish (Bolinger, 1954), a fact often re- lated to the freer word order in Spanish (Lambrecht, 1994; Bu ̈ring, 2010). This study reports on a production experiment that compares whether and how the two languages mark focus in cases of paral- lelism, where a change in word order is not an option in Spanish. Prior studies have claimed that Spanish marks focus prosodically only if the focus involved is ‘contrastive’ or ‘corrective’ (Zubizarreta, 1998), whereas English marks all types of focus prosodically. Our production re- sults are compatible with this claim, but we offer another interpretation of the re- sults: That the focus operator involved in prosodic focus marking in Spanish neces- sarily has to take scope over the entire root clause (speech act), while in English it can take scope over a broader range of con- stituents.  

Perceptual Cues in Korean fricatives.

Goun Lee and Allard Jongman. Essays in Speech Processes - Language Production and Perception

The current study explores the production and perception of two Korean  - fortis [s’] and non-fortis (plain) [s]. Production data from 10 speakers were examined to investigate the acoustic cues that distinguish the two  fricatives  in different  vowel  contexts (high  vowel  /i/ vs. low  vowel  /a/). Measures  included rise time, intensity, center of gravity (COG), F0, H1-H2, and CPP, as well as frication, aspiration, and subsequent  vowel  duration. COG and  vowel duration consistently distinguished the two  fricatives; additional cues varied across  vowel  contexts. For the /i/ context, intensity and F0 differed across the  fricatives;  for the /a/ context, rise time, H1-H2 and CPP differed across the  fricatives.  Four perceptual identification experiments were conducted with sixty native Korean listeners. Experiment 1 established that listeners can distinguish the two  fricatives  in intact natural syllables. In Experiments 2 and 3, listeners heard only the excised consonantal or vocalic segment. For the /a/ context,  fricative  identification was successful based on both consonantal and vocalic segments. In the /i/ context,  fricative  identification exceeded chance level only for the consonantal segment. In Experiment 4, cross-spliced stimuli revealed that speakers are more sensitive to vocalic cues than consonantal cues, but only in the /a/ context.

A diachronic investigation of the vowels and fricatives in Korean: An acoustic comparison of the Seoul and South Kyungsang dialects. 

Hyunjung Lee and Allard Jongman.Journal of the International Phonetic Association

Although the segmental properties of Kyungsang Korean have been known to be distinct from those of standard Seoul Korean, the increased influence of Seoul Korean on the regional variety casts doubt on the homogeneity of the dialect. The current study investigated whether the acoustic properties of the vowels and fricatives in Kyungsang Korean are retained by both younger and older generations through a comparison with Seoul Korean. Results of acoustic analyses with 38 female Korean speakers differing in dialect (Kyungsang, Seoul) and age (older, younger) showed that the younger Kyungsang speakers did not maintain the vowel and fricative features unique to their regional dialect, but rather approximate those of standard Seoul Korean. In the acoustic study of vowels, measures of formant frequencies showed that the younger Kyungsang and Seoul speakers share seven vowels, which result from the split of /ʌ/–/ɨ/ in Kyungsang and the merger of /e/–/ε/ in Seoul Korean. In the acoustic study of fricatives, measures of fricative duration and center of gravity showed that while the two-way fricative contrast is less distinct for older Kyungsang speakers, younger speakers clearly distinguish the two fricatives similar to Seoul speakers. As a consequence of these generational changes in Kyungsang Korean, the six vowels and lack of a fricative contrast exhibited by older generations have given way to seven vowels and a clear distinction between fortis and non-fortis fricatives for younger generations. Based on the similarities in segmental properties between younger Kyungsang and Seoul speakers, it appears that the diachronic sound change is underway in South Kyungsang Korean under the influence of Seoul Korean.

Variation and diachronic change in the nominal pitch accent system of South Kyengsang Korean. 

Hyunjung Lee, Allard Jongman, and Jie Zhang. Phonology

This paper considers whether the phonology of the lexical pitch accent of Kyungsang Korean is being maintained by younger innovative speakers. We examine the pitch-accent patterns of nouns with various suffixes by comparing the speech of innovative Kyungsang speakers to that of older conservative speakers. It will be shown that while innovative speakers maintain the underlying distinction in the lexical pitch accent found with conservative speakers, the acoustic difference across the contrastive accent classes is substantially weaker in the speech of innovative speakers, for both noun stems and suffixes. Observation of individual differences in the phonetic realisation of the pitch accent and comparison with tonal patterns of Seoul Korean provide an insight into this sound change, offering evidence for how and why the acoustic distinction has weakened. This study thus documents a process of diachronic change in the prosody of Kyungsang Korean.

Acoustic evidence for diachronic sound change in Korean prosody: A comparative study of the Seoul and South Kyungsang dialects.

Hyunjung Lee and Allard Jongman. Journal of Phonetics.

This paper examined the acoustic properties of the pitch accent of South Kyungsang Korean, focusing on generational differences. Kyungsang Korean has lexical pitch accents, whereas standard Seoul Korean does not. However, whether the pitch accents are maintained by younger Kyungsang speakers is questionable given the influence of Seoul Korean. Through comparisons between older and younger speakers and between Seoul and South Kyungsang speakers, this study tested if and how sound change occurs in the pitch accent system of the regional dialect, and if the prosody of Kyungsang Korean shifts towards that of non-tonal Seoul Korean. We examined F0 scaling and alignment of pitch accents for the data collected from 40 female Korean speakers (10 younger and 10 older speakers each for Seoul and South Kyungsang dialects). Clear acoustic differences between generations provided evidence for diachronic sound change in the lexical pitch accent of South Kyungsang Korean. First, the differences in F0 scaling and alignment across accent contrasts are less distinct for younger Kyungsang speakers than for older speakers. Second, the F0 peak occurs later for younger Kyungsang speakers across all accent classes, resulting in a final rising accent pattern in disyllables similar to Seoul Korean. Third, despite the similarity with Seoul Korean, results from longer words revealed that Kyungsang Korean is still distinct from Seoul in terms of its maintenance of the lexical pitch accent. Based on these findings, we conclude that the sound change in lexical pitch accent is in progress by satisfying the prosodic properties of both Seoul and South Kyungsang Korean.

Acoustic characteristics of clearly spoken English tense and lax vowels.

Keith Leung, Allard Jongman, Yue Wang, and Joan Sereno. Journal of the Acoustical society of America. 

The acoustic features of clearly produced vowels have been widely studied, but a less explored area concerns the difference in the adaptations of tense and lax clear vowels. This study explored the clear production of three pairs of English tense and lax vowels (/i-ɪ/, /ɑ-ʌ/, /u-ʊ/) to determine whether tense vowels show a larger clear versus conversational speech difference than lax vowels. Vowel space, individual formant frequency values, dynamic formant information and vowel duration of tense and lax vowels were examined. Results suggest there was more conversational-to-clear vowel lengthening for tense vowels than for lax vowels. However, an opposite effect was found for spectral measures. Lax vowels yielded greater vowel space expansion, formant frequency change, and dynamic formant movement than tense vowels in clear speech. 

Perceptual distinctiveness between dental and palatal sibilants in different vowel contexts and its implication for phonological contrasts. 

Mingxing Li and Jie Zhang. Laboratory Phonology.

Mandarin Chinese has dental, palatal, and retroflex sibilants, but their contrasts before [_i] are avoided: The palatals appear before [i] while the dentals and retroflexes appear before homorganic syllabic approximants (a.k.a. apical vowels). An enhancement view regards the apical vowels as a way to avoid the weak contrast /si-ɕi-ȿi/. We focus on the dental vs. palatal contrast in this study and test the enhancement-based hypothesis that the dental and palatal sibilants are perceptually less distinct in the [_i] context than in other vowel contexts. This hypothesis is supported by a typological survey of 155 Chinese dialects, which showed that contrastive [si, tsi, tsʰi] and [ɕi, tɕi, tɕʰi] tend to be avoided even when there are no retroflexes in the sound system. We also conducted a speeded-AX discrimination experiment with 20 English listeners and 10 Chinese listeners to examine the effect of vowels ([_i], [_a], [_ou]) on the perceived distinctiveness of sibilant contrasts ([s-ɕ], [ts-tɕ], [tsʰ-tɕʰ]). The results showed that the [_i] context introduced a longer response time, thus reduced distinctiveness, than other vowels, confirming our hypothesis. Moreover, the general lack of difference between the two groups of listeners indicates that the vowel effect is language-independent.

The effects of talker variability and variances on incidental learning of lexical tones. 

Jiang Liu and Jie Zhang. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages. 

Multi-talker variability has been found to be very effective in the perception and production training of nonnative sound categories in the past few decades. The phonetic training paradigms were mostly explicit learning in which learners received feedback of the categories when exposed to the training stimuli. More recently, studies have started to investigate how auditory categories are learned by adults incidentally during unsupervised training—a simulation of sound category learning in a natural environment without any experimenter-provided feedback. The stimuli used in incidental learning were mostly re-synthesized nonspeech sound categories due to the ease of manipulating the variance of different acoustic dimensions. Very few studies examined the effect of talker variability on incidental learning of novel speech categories. This study investigated whether American adults without any tone language experience can learn Mandarin Chinese lexical tones incidentally by playing a video game. We also examined the effects of carefully manipulated variability of the re-synthesized stimuli and the natural variability of multi-talkers on lexical tone category learning. In addition to tone discrimination and identification, we also examined the participants’ cue-weighting change after the incidental learning. The result showed that novel speech categories, lexical tones in this case, can be learned incidentally. The results also showed that multi-talker stimuli not only led to better generalization for the identification of tones in stimuli not present in the training but also made learners have a more nativelike cue-weighting in tone perception. The results suggest that the manipulation of variance on significant acoustic dimensions such as pitch direction and height may not be as robust as talker variability in terms of learning lexical tones when incidental learning occurred. 

A production and perception study on tonal neutralization in Nanchang Chinese.

Jiang Liu and Jie Zhang. Journal of Chinese Linguistics monograph series no. 25: Studies on tonal aspects of languages. 

In a production study of tonal  contrasts  in lexically stressed but grammatically stressless syllables vs. lexically stressless syllables in Nanchang, a Gan dialect spoken in southeastern China, we found that tonal neutralization only occurs in lexically stressless syllables. We argue that the main  phonetic  ground for such a tonal  contrast  distribution lies in the rhyme duration difference between syllables with and without lexical stress, namely, lexically stressless syllables have shorter rhyme duration than lexically stressed but grammatically stressless syllables, and the shorter the rhyme duration of a syllable is the fewer tonal  contrasts  the syllable allows. In terms of perception, we found that different tonal  contrasts  indeed become neutralized in lexically stressless syllables. However, the neutralization pattern at the perception level is not the same as the one at the production level due to word specific effects.


Andrew McKenzie. Oxford Bibliographies in Linguistics. 

Switch-reference (SR) describes morphemes associated with clause junctures that typically indicate whether the subjects of those clauses corefer. If the subjects corefer, the juncture expresses SS (same-subject) marking. If the subjects are disjoint, they are marked with DS (different-subject) marking. In clauses without overt nominal expressions, SR is often the only indication in a discourse of who is doing what. While SR typically involves subject reference, in many languages, SR can ignore subjects altogether. In these “noncanonical” cases, SR is usually sensitive to continuity or discontinuity of the events in the discourse. SS and DS are still used as abbreviations even if subjects are not involved. While linguists had noticed SR early in the 20th century (e.g., Edward Sapir’s grammar of Southern Paiute in 1930) that conjunctions in a few languages were sensitive to subject coreference, William Jacobsen was the first to notice SR cross-linguistically and to propose it as an actual morpheme, in his “Switch-Reference in Hokan-Coahuiltecan” (Jacobsen 1967, cited under Early Descriptive Accounts from North America). Since then, it has been found in countless languages all over the world outside Europe. The literature on SR can be difficult to classify because much of it has a toe in three distinct streams. First is descriptive work on SR, which can be split on the basis of language and language area. Virtually all SR languages require fieldwork, and the literature on SR reflects the areal focus of field linguists. Second, SR highlights the interface between modules of the grammar by directly involving the syntax, semantics, and the discourse. Third, SR study offers a space where descriptive, formal, and functional traditions converse with each other.

"Almost" as a variable-force modal. 

Andrew McKenzie and Lydia Newkirk. Proceedings of the Thirty-Third West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. 

In this paper, we explore the nature of almost as a modal. We observe that closeness to completion of the event is not a requirement for almost, and that, like some modals in Pacific North West languages, almost seems to vary between necessity and possibility. Applying insight from the study of those modals, we propose that almost denotes a necessity counterfactual whose force is weakened by an expectation-based ordering source. This ordering source also saves the felicity of almost when circumstances aren’t close to culmination. Further aspects of the analysis account for differences between almost and ordinary counterfactuals, and demonstrate compatibility with some of the broader issues in the almost literature.

What comes after /f/? Prediction in speech derives from data-explanatory processes.

Bob McMurray and Allard Jongman. Psychological Science.

Acoustic cues are short-lived and highly variable, which makes speech perception a difficult problem. However, most listeners solve this problem effortlessly. In the present experiment, we demonstrated that part of the solution lies in predicting upcoming speech sounds and that predictions are modulated by high-level expectations about the current sound. Participants heard isolated fricatives (e.g., “s,” “sh”) and predicted the upcoming vowel. Accuracy was above chance, which suggests that fine-grained detail in the signal can be used for prediction. A second group performed the same task but also saw a still face and a letter corresponding to the fricative. This group performed markedly better, which suggests that high-level knowledge modulates prediction by helping listeners form expectations about what the fricative should have sounded like. This suggests a form of data explanation operating in speech perception: Listeners account for variance due to their knowledge of the talker and current phoneme, and they use what is left over to make more accurate predictions about the next sound.

Acquisition and use of linguistic knowledge: scrambling in child Japanese as a test case. 

Utako Minai, Isobe, Miwa & Okabe, Reiko. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.

The current study investigates preschool-age children’s comprehension of scrambled sentences in Japanese. While scrambling has been known to be challenging for children, biasing them to exhibit non-adult-like interpretations (e.g., Hayashibe in Descr Appl Linguist 8:1–18, 1975; Sano in Descr Appl Linguist 10:213–233, 1977; Suzuki in Jpn J Educ Psychol 25(3):56–61, 1977), children are able to interpret scrambled sentences in an adult-like way when the pragmatics is enriched in the experiments (Otsu in Acquisition studies in generative grammar, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp 253–264, 1994). These findings suggest that children’s difficulty in comprehending scrambling may be due to processing difficulties (Suzuki in J Psycholinguist Res 42(2), 119–137, 2013), such as the Lexical-ordering Strategy bias (Bever in Cognition and language development, Wiley, New York, pp 279–352, 1970), rather than their lack of the linguistic knowledge of scrambling. The current study revealed that children are indeed able to utilize prosodic information to interpret scrambled sentences in an adult-like way. Our findings provide converging evidence in favor of the proposal that children’s grammatical knowledge of scrambling is intact, although they are more vulnerable than adults to processing difficulties that hinder their ability to successfully interpret scrambled sentences.

Yooji-no imikaishaku-wa naze otona-no sore-to-wa kotonarunoka [Why children's meaning comprehension differs from adults' meaning comprehension]. 

Utako Minai. Hushigi-ni michi-ta kotoba-no sekai. [The world of language, full of wonder]. 

Native and non-native comprehension of the Japanese existential quantifier nanko-ka.

Utako Minai and Naoko Nadtochiy. Language Acquisition and Language Disorders series. Studies in Chinese and Japanese Language Acquisition.

This paper discusses native and non-native speakers’ comprehension of the Japanese quantifier nanko-ka, which is viewed as an existential quantifier (cf., some in English) in Japanese. The existential quantifier is argued to be ambiguous at the semantics-pragmatics interface: at the semantic level, it means ‘at least one, possibly all’; at the pragmatic level, it is interpreted as ‘at least one, but not all’. Nanko-ka, as an existential quantifier in Japanese, is expected to exhibit this ambiguity, although there is no data that we are aware of which demonstrates that native speakers indeed access these two interpretations of nanko-ka. Thus, the first goal of the study reported in this paper is to examine native comprehension of this quantifier. As regards the acquisition of the existential quantifier, research in first language acquisition has suggested that children initially have limited access to the pragmatic interpretation of some, in comparison to adults. However, once it comes to adult second language acquisition, how adult L2 learners may cope with the ambiguity of the existential quantifier is not well-known. Given this, the second goal of the current paper is to investigate how nanko-ka is interpreted by English-speaking L2 learners of Japanese.

Fetal rhythm language discrimination: A biomagnetometry study. 

Utako Minai, K Gustafson, Robert Fiorentino, Allard Jongman, and Joan Sereno. NeuroReport.

Using fetal biomagnetometry, this study measured changes in fetal heart rate to assess discrimination of two rhythmically different languages (English and Japanese). Two-minute passages in English and Japanese were read by the same female bilingual speaker. Twenty-four mother–fetus pairs (mean gestational age=35.5 weeks) participated. Fetal magnetocardiography was recorded while the participants were presented first with passage 1, a passage in English, and then, following an 18 min interval, with passage 2, either a different passage in English (English–English condition: N=12) or in Japanese (English–Japanese condition: N=12). The fetal magnetocardiogram was reconstructed following independent components analysis decomposition. The mean interbeat intervals were calculated for a 30 s baseline interval directly preceding each passage and for the first 30 s of each passage. We then subtracted the mean interbeat interval of the 30 s baseline interval from that of the first 30 s interval, yielding an interbeat interval change value for each passage. A significant interaction between condition and passage indicated that the English–Japanese condition elicited a more robust interbeat interval change for passage 2 (novelty phase) than for passage 1 (familiarity phase), reflecting a faster heart rate during passage 2, whereas the English–English condition did not. This effect indicates that fetuses are sensitive to the change in language from English to Japanese. These findings provide the first evidence for fetal language discrimination as assessed by fetal biomagnetometry and support the hypothesis that rhythm constitutes a prenatally available building block in language acquisition.

The Cherokee Nation immersion school as a translanguaging space. 

Lizette Peter, Tracy Hirata-Edds, Durbin Feeling, Wyman Kirk, Ryan Mackey, and Philip Duncan. Journal of American Indian Education. 

We examine language revitalization as it unfolds in Tsalagi Dideloquasdi, a Cherokee immersion school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Using qualitative and linguistic data collected over two years, we explore how students' meaning-making practices are influenced by macro-, meso-, and microlevel sociolinguistic dimensions. We find that Tsalagi Dideloquasdi is a quintessential translanguaging space, shaped by multiple competencies shared by students, teachers, and parents, as well as the fluid bilinguality characteristic of language-contact situations. We argue Cherokee language revitalization is a process of renewal, not a return to idealized notions of “speakerhood” and proficiency. Moreover, immersion students are agents of linguistic transformation as Cherokee is reinstated in traditional sociolinguistic domains, as well as in new domains traditionally devoid of the language, such as schools.

Evidence for the role of tone sandhi in Mandarin speech production. 

Stephen Politzer-Ahles and Jie Zhang. Journal of Chinese Linguistics monograph series no. 25: Studies on tonal aspects of languages.

An open question in psycholinguistics is the nature of the phonological representations used during speech production and the processes that are applied to them, particularly between lexical access and articulatory implementation. While phonological theory posits that speakers' grammar includes mechanisms for transforming from input to output forms, whether such mechanisms also are used by the parser during online speech production is unclear. We examined the role of phonological alternations in Mandarin Chinese real and novel compounds using the implicit priming paradigm, which can reveal forms being used prior to articulation. We compared modulations of the implicit priming effect in sets of words that are heterogeneous at the lexical level (where one word has a different lexical tone than the rest) to those in sets that are heterogeneous at the derived level (where a word has the same underlying lexical tone, but that tone surfaces as a different tone because of tone sandhi). Both lexical and derived heterogeneous sets reduced the priming effect, suggesting that phonological alternation was computed abstractly before articulation was initiated. We argue that the progression from underlying phonological representations to articulatory execution may be mediated online by a level at which abstract phonological alternations are processed.

A comparative study of the acquisition of nominative and ergative agreement in European and Mayan languages. 

Clifton Pye and Barbra Pfeiler. The Oxford Handbook of Ergativity.

The comparative method of language acquisition research. 

Clifton Pye. University of Chicago Press. 

The Mayan family of languages is ancient and unique. With their distinctive relational nouns, positionals, and complex grammatical voices, they are quite alien to English and have never been shown to be genetically related to other New World tongues. These qualities, Clifton Pye shows, afford a particular opportunity for linguistic insight. Both an overview of lessons Pye has gleaned from more than thirty years of studying how children learn Mayan languages as well as a strong case for a novel method of researching crosslinguistic language acquisition more broadly, this book demonstrates the value of a close, granular analysis of a small language lineage to untangling the complexities of first language acquisition. Pye here applies the comparative method to three Mayan languages—K’iche’, Mam, and Ch’ol—showing how differences in the use of verbs are connected to differences in the subject markers and pronouns used by children and adults. His holistic approach allows him to observe how small differences between the languages lead to significant differences in the structure of the children’s lexicon and grammar, and to learn why that is so. More than this, he expects that such careful scrutiny of related languages’ variable solutions to specific problems will yield new insights into how children acquire complex grammars. Studying such an array of related languages, he argues, is a necessary condition for understanding how any particular language is used; studying languages in isolation, comparing them only to one’s native tongue, is merely collecting linguistic curiosities.

Mayan negation cycles. 

Clifton Pye. Cyclical Change Continued.

The Jespersen Cycle (1917) remains the definitive example of the linguistic cycle. A reconstruction of the history of negation marking in the Mayan languages shows that while some Mayan languages exhibit the beginning of a typical Jespersen Cycle, the majority of Mayan languages evidence different types of negation cycles. Differences in the domain of negation strengthening and the absence of postverbal negation strengthening provide evidence of the unique structure of Mayan languages. The evidence suggests that constraints on negation cycles are just as important as the cycles themselves in examining cross-linguistic variation in the structure of negation. 

The acquisition of negation in three Mayan languages. 

Clifton Pye, Barbara Pfeiler and Pedro Mateo Pedro. Estudios de Cultura Maya

We present data on the early forms of negation in three Mayan languages (K’iche’, Yucatec and Q’anjob’al). These languages mark different contrasts between discourse, clausal and existential contexts of negation. Negation in these languages also interacts with aspect and modality. Children acquiring K’iche’ use an internal form of clausal negation while children acquiring Yucatec and Q’anjob’al use an ex- ternal form of clausal negation. The K’iche’ and Yucatec children successfully mark the contrast between the discourse and clausal forms of negation. The data show that children in each language create their own forms of negation. 

The acquisition of Mayan languages. 

Clifton Pye, Barbara Pfeiler and Pedro Mateo Pedro. Handbook of Mayan Languages.

Does second language experience modulate perception of tones in a third language? 

Zhen Qin and Allard Jongman. Language and Speech. 

It is unclear what roles native language (L1) and second language (L2) play in the perception of lexical tones in a third language (L3). In tone perception, listeners with different language backgrounds use different fundamental frequency (F0). While English listeners use F0 height, Mandarin listeners rely more on F0 direction. The present study addresses whether knowledge of Mandarin, particularly as an L2, results in speakers’ reliance on F0 direction in their perception of L3 (Cantonese) tones. Fifteen English-speaking L2 learners of Mandarin constituted the target group, and 15 English monolinguals and 15 native Mandarin speakers, with no background in other tonal languages, were included as control groups. All groups had to discriminate Cantonese tones either by distinguishing a contour tone from a level tone (F0 direction pair) or a level tone from another level tone (F0 height pair). The results showed that L2 learners patterned differently from both control groups by using F0 direction as well as F0 height under the influence of L1 and L2 experience. The acoustics of the tones also affected all listeners’ discrimination. When L2 and L3 are similar in terms of the presence of lexical tone, L2 experience modulates the perception of L3 tones.

Processing of word-level stress by Mandarin-Speaking second-language learners of English. 

Zhen Qin, Yu-fu Chien, and Annie Tremblay. Applied Psycholinguistics. 

This study investigates whether second language learners’ processing of stress can be explained by the degree to which suprasegmental cues contribute to lexical identity in the native language. It focuses on Standard Mandarin, Taiwan Mandarin, and American English listeners’ processing of stress in English nonwords. In Mandarin, fundamental frequency contributes to lexical identity by signaling lexical tones, but only in Standard Mandarin does duration distinguish stressed–unstressed and stressed–stressed words. Participants completed sequence-recall tasks containing English disyllabic nonwords contrasting in stress. Experiment 1 used natural stimuli; Experiment 2 used resynthesized stimuli that isolated fundamental frequency and duration cues. Experiment 1 revealed no difference among the groups; in Experiment 2, Standard Mandarin listeners used duration more than Taiwan Mandarin listeners did. These results are interpreted within a cue-weighting theory of speech perception.

Working memory capacity in L2 processing.

Robert Reichle, Annie Tremblay, and Caitlin Coughlin. Probus. 

In this paper, we review the current state of the second language (L2) processing literature and report data suggesting that this subfield should now turn its attention to working memory capacity as an important factor modulating the possibility of (near)-native-like L2 processing. We first review three major overarching accounts of L2 processing (Clahsen et al. 2006a, Grammatical processing in language learners. Applied Psycholinguistics 27. 3–42; Ullman 2001, The declarative/procedural model of lexicon and grammar. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 30. 37–69; McDonald 2006, Beyond the critical period: Processing-based explanations for poor grammaticality judgment performance by late second language learners. Journal of Memory and Language 55. 381–401; Hopp 2006, Syntactic features and reanalysis in near-native processing. Second Language Research 22. 369–397, and Hopp 2010, Ultimate attainment in L2 inflection: Performance similarities between non-native and native speakers. Lingua 120. 901–931) and frame their predictions in terms of the qualitative and quantitative differences in processing expected between native speakers and L2 learners. We next review event-related potential (ERP) research on L2 processing and argue that the field’s current understanding of qualitative and quantitative differences in ERPs warrants an additional focus on variables other than L2 proficiency that can also predict individual differences in L2 processing. Recent L2 research (relying on ERPs, self-paced reading, and other online measures) suggests that the most promising such variable is working memory (WM) capacity. We summarize results from our recent L2 WM studies – and report new ERP findings – that point to the possibility of a modulatory effect of WM capacity on the nativelikeness of L2 processing. We conclude that the study of WM capacity is the logical next step for this L2 processing subfield.

How category learning occurs in adults and children. 

Joan Sereno. The Speech Processing Lexicon: Neurocognitive and behavioural approaches.

A central issue in the field of speech perception involves phonetic category formation. The present chapter examines speech category learning in order to understand how linguistic categories develop. One productive approach has been to examine how second language categories are learned, with recent research showing that the adult perceptual system is more plastic then previously thought. The present chapter extends this research on the learning of second language contrasts by investigating how this learning occurs. Little is known about the acquisition pattern itself, that is the time course of learning. Is the learning of a new language contrast a slow gradual process or does learning exhibit spurts of rapid growth punctuated b periods of little change? This proposed chapter also examines age differences in te acquisition patterns, addressing whether acquisiton is faster and/or qualitatively different in adults as compared to children. The present chapter thus provides a view of the acquistion of novel language contrasts by adults and children, contributing to understanding how listeners are able to learn new phonetic categories and clarifying the temporal constraints in learning these new phoentic contrasts. 

The relative contribution of segments and intonation to the perception of foreign-accented speech.

Joan Sereno, Lynn Lammers, and Allard Jongman. Applied Psycholinguistics.

The present study examines the relative impact of segments and intonation on accentedness, comprehensibility, and intelligibility, specifically investigating the separate contribution of segmental and intonational information to perceived foreign accent in Korean-accented English. Two English speakers and two Korean speakers recorded 40 English sentences. The sentences were manipulated by combining segments from one speaker with intonation (fundamental frequency contour and duration) from another speaker. Four versions of each sentence were created: one English control (English segments and English intonation), one Korean control (Korean segments and Korean intonation), and two Korean–English combinations (one with English segments and Korean intonation; the other with Korean segments and English intonation). Forty native English speakers transcribed the sentences for intelligibility and rated their comprehensibility and accentedness. The data show that segments had a significant effect on accentedness, comprehensibility, and intelligibility, but intonation only had an effect on intelligibility. Contrary to previous studies, the present study, separating segments from intonation, suggests that segmental information contributes substantially more to the perception of foreign accentedness than intonation. Native speakers seem to rely mainly on segments when determining foreign accentedness.

Examining visible articulatory features in clear and plain speech.

Lisa Y.W. Tang, Beverly Hannah, Allard Jongman, Joan Sereno, Yue Wang, and Ghassan Hamarneh. Speech Communication.

This study investigated the relationship between clearly produced and plain citation form speech styles and motion of visible articulators. Using state-of-the-art computer-vision and image processing techniques, we examined both front and side view videos of speakers’ faces while they recited six English words (keyed, kid, cod, cud, cooed, could) containing various vowels differing in visible articulatory features (e.g., lip spreading, lip rounding, jaw displacement), and extracted measurements corresponding to the lip and jaw movements. We compared these measurements in clear and plain speech produced by 18 native English speakers. Based on statistical analyses, we found significant effects of speech style as well as speaker gender and saliency of visual speech cues. Compared to plain speech, we found in clear speech longer duration, greater vertical lip stretch and jaw displacement across vowels, greater horizontal lip stretch for front unrounded vowels, and greater degree of lip rounding and protrusion for rounded vowels. Additionally, greater plain-to-clear speech modifications were found for male speakers than female speakers. These articulatory movement data demonstrate that speakers modify their speech productions in response to communicative needs in different speech contexts. These results also establish the feasibility of utilizing novel computerized facial detection techniques to measure articulatory movements.

Experiences with a second language affects the use of fundamental frequency in speech segmentation.  

Annie Tremblay, Jui Namjoshi, Elsa Spinelli, Mirjam Broersma, Taehong Cho, Sahyang Kim, and Maria Teresa Martínez-García. PLOS One. 

This study investigates whether listeners’ experience with a second language learned later in life affects their use of fundamental frequency (F0) as a cue to word boundaries in the segmentation of an artificial language (AL), particularly when the cues to word boundaries conflict between the first language (L1) and second language (L2). F0 signals phrase-final (and thus word-final) boundaries in French but word-initial boundaries in English. Participants were functionally monolingual French listeners, functionally monolingual English listeners, bilingual L1-English L2-French listeners, and bilingual L1-French L2-English listeners. They completed the AL-segmentation task with F0 signaling word-final boundaries or without prosodic cues to word boundaries (monolingual groups only). After listening to the AL, participants completed a forced-choice word-identification task in which the foils were either non-words or part-words. The results show that the monolingual French listeners, but not the monolingual English listeners, performed better in the presence of F0 cues than in the absence of such cues. Moreover, bilingual status modulated listeners’ use of F0 cues to word-final boundaries, with bilingual French listeners performing less accurately than monolingual French listeners on both word types but with bilingual English listeners performing more accurately than monolingual English listeners on non-words. These findings not only confirm that speech segmentation is modulated by the L1, but also newly demonstrate that listeners’ experience with the L2 (French or English) affects their use of F0 cues in speech segmentation. This suggests that listeners’ use of prosodic cues to word boundaries is adaptive and non-selective, and can change as a function of language experience.

Linguistic convergence/divergence or degree of bilingualism? 

Annie Tremblay. Journal of French Language Studies. 

In their article, Mougeon, Hallion, Bigot, and Papen attempt to explain the similarities and differences among four varieties of Canadian French spoken outside Quebec (and New Brunswick) in the use of the restriction forms rien que, juste, seulement (que), and ne . . . que. Mougeon and colleagues focused on the French varieties spoken in Welland (Ontario), Saint-Boniface (Manitoba), Saint-Laurent (i.e., Mitchif French, Manitoba) and Bonnyville (Alberta) (see also Nadasdi & Keppie 2004). Using a variationist sociolinguistic framework, they examined the effect of linguistic and extralinguistic factors on speakers’ use of the aforementioned restriction forms, and compared their results to those reported in previous studies of the French varieties spoken in Montreal (Quebec) (Massicotte 1984, 1986; Thibault & Daveluy 1989) and in Hawkesbury, Cornwall, Northbay, and Pembroke (Ontario) (Rehner & Mougeon 1998). Based on their results, Mougeon and colleagues made hypotheses regarding linguistic convergence/divergence and raise relevant questions for future research. In this commentary, I briefly assess some of the contributions made by this research from a psycholinguistic perspective. In doing so, I raise additional questions concerning the source of the effects reported in the study.

Cue-weighting mechanism and bilingualism. 

Annie Tremblay and C Coughlin. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.

Cunnings’ proposed theory can explain why second language (L2) learners have difficulty resolving certain types of dependencies (i.e., backward-looking dependencies) but not others (i.e., forward-looking dependencies). However, his theory should be more explicit about the mechanism underlying late L2 learners’ and native speakers’ different weightings of retrieval cues, and research framed within his theory should strive to tease apart age-of-acquisition effects from bilingualism effects.

Effects of native language on the learning of fundamental freqeuncy in second-language speech segmentation. 

Annie Tremblay, Mirjam Broersma, Caitlin Coughlin, and Jiyoun Choi. Frontiers in Psychology

This study investigates whether the learning of prosodic cues to word boundaries in speech segmentation is more difficult if the native and second/foreign languages (L1 and L2) have similar (though non-identical) prosodies than if they have markedly different prosodies (Prosodic-Learning Interference Hypothesis). It does so by comparing French, Korean, and English listeners’ use of fundamental-frequency (F0) rise as a cue to word-final boundaries in French. F0 rise signals phrase-final boundaries in French and Korean but word-initial boundaries in English. Korean-speaking and English-speaking L2 learners of French, who were matched in their French proficiency and French experience, and native French listeners completed a visual-world eye-tracking experiment in which they recognized words whose final boundary was or was not cued by an increase in F0. The results showed that Korean listeners had greater difficulty using F0 rise as a cue to word-final boundaries in French than French and English listeners. This suggests that L1–L2 prosodic similarity can make the learning of an L2 segmentation cue difficult, in line with the proposed Prosodic-Learning Interference Hypothesis. We consider mechanisms that may underlie this difficulty and discuss the implications of our findings for understanding listeners’ phonological encoding of L2 words.

 L2 acquisition of Chinese tone. 

Yue Wang, Allard Jongman, and Joan Sereno. Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics.

L2 acquisition of Chinese tone involves coordinated encoding of pitch information across sensory-acoustic and cognitive domains, and is shaped by linguistic and non-linguistic experiences with pitch. 

Acoustic correlates of lexical stress in Uyghur. 

Mahire Yakup and Joan Sereno. Journal of the International Phonetics Association. 

The present study examined lexical stress patterns in Uyghur, a Turkic language. The main goal of this research was to isolate and determine which acoustic parameters provide cues to stress in Uyghur. A number of studies have investigated the phonetic correlates of lexical stress across the world's languages, with stressed syllables often longer in duration, higher in pitch, and greater in amplitude. The present study systematically investigated the acoustic cues to stress in Uyghur, examining duration, fundamental frequency, and amplitude. Three experiments were conducted: one utilizing minimal pairs in Uyghur, one examining disyllabic nouns in Uyghur that contrasted in the first syllable, and one investigating the interaction of lexical stress with Uyghur sentence intonation. The data consistently show that duration was a robust cue to stress in Uyghur, with less consistent effects for intensity. The data also clearly show that fundamental frequency was not a cue to lexical stress in Uyghur. Uyghur does not use the fundamental frequency to distinguish stressed from unstressed syllables. The results suggest that Uyghur does not pattern like a pitch-accent language (e.g. Turkish), but rather like a stress-accent language.

Pattern substitution in Wuxi tone sandhi and its implication for phonological learning. 

Hanbo Yan and Jie Zhang. International Journal of Chinese Linguistics. 

Tone sandhi in Wuxi Chinese involves “pattern substitution,” whereby the base tone on the rst syllable is rst substituted by another tone, then spread to the sandhi domain. We conducted a wug test to investigate native Wuxi speakers’ tacit knowledge of tone sandhi and found that the substituion aspect of the sandhi is not fully productive, but the extension aspect is, and sandhi produc- tivity is in uenced by the phonetic similarity between base and sandhi tones. ese results are discussed in the context of how phonological opacity, phonetic naturalness, and lexical frequency in uence phonological learning, and a gram- matical learning model that can predict Wuxi speakers’ experimental behavior is proposed. 

Using nonce-probe tests and auditory priming to investigate speakers' phonological knowledge of tone sandhi.

Jie Zhang. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages. 

Recent phonological research has shown that speakers may both overlearn and underlearn from lexical patterns of their language. This points to the importance of experimental studies to the construction of phonological analysis. In this paper, I explore the use of nonce-probe tests and auditory priming in the investigation of speakers’ tacit knowledge of tone sandhi in a variety of Chinese dialects, with a particular focus on the effect of opacity on how speakers internalize the sandhi pattern. Nonce-probe results show that opaque tone sandhis typically lack full productivity and often categorically fail to apply to novel words, while transparent sandhis are more productive. Auditory priming studies show that disyllabic words undergoing an opaque sandhi on the first syllable are more strongly primed by a syllable carrying the sandhi tone, while words undergoing a transparent sandhi are more strongly primed by the base tone. These results suggest that speakers internalize opaque sandhis as the listing of allomorphs, while transparent sandhis can be derived through productive phonological processes from the base tone.

Review of the phonology of Standard Chinese

Jie Zhang. Journal of the International Phonetic Association.

San Duanmu's second edition of The Phonology of Standard Chinese is a thorough update of the first edition f the book published seven years earlier, in 2000. The book presents a comprehensive survey of the phonology of Standard Chinese (Mandarin), from its segmental inventory and syllable structure to its prosodic properties in stress and tone and the interaction between prosody and other aspects of the grammar. The new edition maintains the strengths of the first edition in striking a balance between descriptive coverage and theoretical sophistication, but has updated many aspects of the phonological analysis and adding a chapter on rhythm in poetry. As with the first edition, the book's targeted readership is anyone with an interest in the synchronic or diachronic phonology of Chinese. Due to the technical nature of the topic, the book is likely to be best appreciated by readers with some basic knowledge of linguistics and the Chinese language. But the author has clearly strived to avoid being overly technical and has written the book in a down-to-earth and free-flowing fashion so that and intelligent layperson without formal training in linguistics or Chinese will find it informative as well. The book consists of fourteen chapters. I briefly summarize each chapter in turn. 

The productivity of variable disyllabic tone sandhi in Tianjin Chinese 

Jie Zhang and Jiang Liu. Journal of East Asian Linguistics.

Tianjin Chinese has one of the more complex tone sandhi systems in Northern Chinese dialects. Due to its close contact with Standard Chinese, many of its tone sandhi patterns are also variable. This article first reports a detailed acoustic study of tone sandhi patterns in both real lexical items and novel words in Tianjin. The data were collected from 48 speakers of Tianjin, who were instructed to pronounce disyllabic sequences as real words based on voice prompts. The results showed that the productivity of the sandhis in novel words varied depending on the sandhi—some were less productive than in real words, and some were more productive, indicating a combination of underlearning, overlearning, and proper learning of the sandhis from the lexicon. A theoretical model that predicts the productivity patterns based on the phonetic properties of the sandhis and statistical generalizations about the sandhis over the lexicon is then proposed.

Structure-dependent tone sandhi in real and nonce words in Shanghai Wu. 

Jie Zhang and Yuanliang Meng. Journal of Phonetics. 

Disyllabic sequences in Shanghai Wu undergo different types of tone sandhi depending on their structure: phonological words (e.g., modifier–nouns) spread the initial tone across the disyllable, while phrases (e.g., non-lexicalized verb–nouns) maintain the final tone and level the contour of the nonfinal tone. We investigated the productivity of the two tone sandhi types through 48 speakers’ productions of real and nonce disyllables. Our results show that (a) the word-level tone sandhi in Shanghai indeed involves tone spreading, while the phrase-level sandhi is better interpreted as phonetic contour reduction, (b) the spreading sandhi generally applies productively to nonce words, but there are some differences in tone production between real and nonce words that are attributable to both categorical non-application and gradient application of the sandhi in nonce words, and (c) the structure dependency of Shanghai tone sandhi is also productive, as the speakers produced qualitatively different f0 patterns in modifier–noun nonce words and verb–noun nonce phrases. These results indicate that in order to arrive at a full picture of tone sandhi patterning, experimental data that shed light on the generalizations that speakers make from the speech input are necessary.



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