Linguistics and English Language

Phonetics/phonology workshop

The meeting series of the Phonetics and Phonology Research Group

Also known as 'the P-workshop'. The programme consists of talks, seminars and discussions on subjects relating to phonetics and phonology (both synchonic and diachronic) and to speech technology.

Time and place

We normally meet on Thursdays, 13:10 (but not every Thursday), in the Dugald Stewart Building. 


The P-workshop is the foum of the Phonetics and Phonology Research Group. If you would like to give a talk, suggest a reading, or lead a session, please email the organisers Patrick Honeybone, James Kirby and Bert Remijsen.


Current and recent events

  • 7th June 2018 (13:10-14:00), room 1.20, DSB: Pavel Iosad 'There is no problem of /v/ in Russian phonology'.
  • 10th May 2018 (13:10-14:00), room 3.10, DSB: Rosalía Rodríguez-Vázquez (University of Vigo) 'Intonation accommodation in a language contact situation: the case of Galician Spanish'.
  • 3rd May 2018 (13:10-14:00), room 1.20, DSB: Bert Remijsen 'Phantom vowels in Shilluk'.
  • 22nd March 2018 (13.10-14.00), room 1.20, DSB: Discussion of: Bennett, Wm & Sharon Rose (2017) 'Moro voicelessness dissimilation and binary [voice].' Phonology 34, 473–505. This is a paper discussion and dissection session. Can we come up with alternative analyses for the data? Everyone should read the paper in advance of the session, so that we are all familiar with the data. We'll meet to talk about it. Anyone who would like can have a 5 - 10 minute slot (with a maximum of 2 or 3 slides) to propose a possible alternative analysis. Or if you think the analysis in the paper is right, to say why.
  • 21st February 2018 (14.10-15.00), room 1.17, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL DAY and TIME - THIS IS A WEDNESDAY]: Patrick Honeybone 'English r-sandhi for the 50 millionth time (but this time taking variation seriously)' [Joint meeting with the English Language Research Group and the Language Variation and Change Research Group.]
  • 10th January 2018 (13:10-14:00), room 3.10, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL DAY - THIS IS A WEDNESDAY]: Alexander Martin 'Relating perception and production in contact-induced change'. Abstract: The Dutch stop inventory contrasts prevoiced from voiceless stops both initially and medially, but not at all places of articulation. Indeed historically, Dutch has lacked the phoneme /ɡ/. Recently, however, many words have been borrowed from neighboring languages, including over 1,300 from English, and this heretofore foreign sound has been creeping its way into the language, to the extent that now even a minimal pair between native /k/ and emerging /ɡ/ exists: /koːl/, cabbage ~ /ɡoːl/, goal. We examined the extent of this change first by exploiting the Corpus Gesproken Nederlands and found a significant correlation between the population density of a region and the proportion of use of the new phoneme there. We then tested 51 native speakers of Dutch from all over the Low Countries and replicated this effect at the level of speakers’ hometowns. We further found a negative correlation between speakers’ VOTs of this new segment and their proportion of use of it in production, indicating a link between individual phonetics and phonology (i.e., speakers with a stronger phonetic contrast between native /k/ and emerging /ɡ/ were more likely to use /ɡ/ in loanwords). We also tested the same speakers on their perception of the new /k/~/ɡ/ contrast compared to native /p/~/b/ and found that speakers who are better at perceiving the new contrast also tend to use it more in production. Overall, our results indicate that the adoption of the new sound is relatively advanced in the young population we tested, but is still modulated by an array of individual-level factors including region of origin and ability to perceive the emerging contrast.  We will discuss potential social and linguistic factors that might contribute to the evolution of this change.
  • 11 December 2017 [NB: this is a Monday], 12.10-1pm , room 3.11, DSB: Lynn Clark (University of Canterbury) 'Medial /t/s in Middle Earth' [Joint meeting with the English Language Research Group and the Language Variation and Change Research Group.] Abstract: Compared with some other varieties of English around the world, New Zealand English (NZE) has a very small number of speakers. Despite this, work on NZE has had a disproportionately large impact on the field of Linguistics, not only in the description of this new variety but, crucially, in the development of models of phonological variation and change and new dialect formation. This has been made possible because of the availability of a number of different spoken corpora in New Zealand which span different time points in the development of this new variety, from its inception to the present day. Today, I will show how I have been using three different spoken corpora of NZE to investigate novel areas of linguistic research. First, using a corpus of spoken monologues, I will discuss patterns of within-speaker phonetic variation (in word medial, intervocalic  /t/) that are similar to the types of priming effects we see in experimental psycholinguistic work. Next, using a corpus of contemporary conversation, I explore the extent to which these priming effects (again in medial /t/) are apparent in dyadic conversation. Finally, using a spoken corpus with a sizeable time depth, I investigate some aspects of long-term cross-speaker variability which could have taken place in early NZ English – in this part of the paper I consider the impact of the Scottish Vowel Length Rule on early NZ English. 
  • 2nd November 2017 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Erich Round (University of Queensland) 'Phonological phylogenetics'. AbstractI discuss a science of 'phonological phylogenetics', in which synchrony and diachrony are viewed respectively as the knowable outcomes of inferable history. The adjectives here are important. Synchrony is knowable but not directly observable. All phonological data is the product of analysis, and since phonological analysis is non-deterministic, it is vital to ascertain how we should respond to the fact that our data contains significant uncertainty, of a rather particular type. The challenges this presents, and some initial, novel solutions are discussed. Meanwhile, diachrony is inferable but not entirely knowable. Reconstructions are probabilistic, and consequently some of our best tools are those of historical statistical inference. This is fortunate, since a great deal of fundamental mathematical research has already been done and we can now take advantage of it. As an example, I introduce the AusPhon-Lexicon database, containing comparably phonemicized lexicons of 240 Australian languages: around 330,000 lexical forms, or 2 million segments. The database is generative, and can derive any number of datasets according to the research question of the user. I show that the phonotactics of Australian laminal consonants, long thought to be distributed overwhelmingly according to areal / language-contact effects, can be shown in fact to harbour strong, vertical phylogenetic signal within the Pama-Nyungan language family, estimated to be on the order of 5,000 years old.
  • 28th September 2017 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Sam Tilsen (Cornell University) 'Selection-coordination theory: viewing phonological structure as a projection over developmental time.' Abstract: Many phonological theories analyze speech as a hierarchical structure of segments, moras, and syllables, and this sort of structure is useful for describing cross-linguistic variation in phonological patterns. But does a hierarchical organization govern the production of speech? In this talk I will describe the Selection-coordination theory of speech production, which holds that articulation is not governed by a fixed hierarchical structure, but rather by flexibly assembled sets of articulatory gestures. The theory holds that selection and coordination mechanisms give rise to two prototypical control regimes: competitive control and coordinative control. Over the course of development, children acquire coordinative control over movements that were previously competitively controlled, this process being mediated by the internalization of sensory feedback. In this framework, segments, moras, and syllables are viewed as differently-sized instantiations of a more general motor planning unit, the organization of control in any given utterance is task/context-specific, and hierarchical structure is the byproduct of a developmental progression. Evidence for the theory is drawn from research in motor control, speech development, and phonological and phonetic patterns.
  • 21st September 2017 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Donka Minkova (UCLA) 'Grenzsignale and phonological reconstruction: some test cases from Old and Middle English'.
  • 15th September 2017 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL DAY - THIS IS A FRIDAY]: James Kirby & Bob Ladd 'Effects of obstruent voicing on vowel F0: implications for laryngeal realism'.
  • 13th September 2017 (12:10-13:00), room 1.17, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL TIME AND DAY - THIS IS A WEDNESDAY]: Matt Goldrick (Northwestern University) 'Continuous dynamics in speech and phonological cognition'. Abstract: During speech, the positions of the articulators evolve continuously in physical space. In ongoing work, we have proposed that mental representations underlying speech articulation evolve continuously in an abstract symbolic space, organized around the dimensions that define linguistic structure. To support this proposal -- Gradient Symbolic Computation (GSC) -- I will review acoustic phonetic data suggesting multiple planning elements can be co-activated and as a result co-produced in articulation. I will then present preliminary work examining how the dynamics of GSC may provide a novel, non-derivational account of opaque phonological processes.

Previous events

  • 5th June 2017 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL DAY - THIS IS A MONDAY]:  Bronwen Evans (UCL) '"No Mummy, it's a b[ɑː]th not a b[æ]th!" The effects of language background and exposure on the processing of accented speech by monolingual and bilingual'. JOINT MEETING WITH the Language Variation and Change and Developmental Linguistics Research Groups. Abstract: Recent increases in complex international migration patterns have led to increasingly diverse multidialectal and multilingual communities, particularly within large urban centres, such as London. Such complex migration patterns mean that native, monolingual, children are likely to encounter not just different, native regional accents but also foreign-accented speech. Children raised bi- or multilingually within these communities will likely be exposed to still more variability; accented speech in their home language, foreign-accented speech and accented speech in their community language. Being able to deal with accent variation is a fundamental part of developing communicative competence. However, relatively little is known about how children develop the ability to perceive differences between accents and use this knowledge to aid comprehension. Still less is known about how this might be affected by language background. In this talk I will present findings from a recent study that investigated accent processing in monolingual and bilingual children from a diverse accent community in London, and discuss preliminary findings from ongoing work with children growing up in a more homogenous language setting (Hampton, UK). Taken together, the results suggest that differences in early exposure to variation in the language environment lead to differences in the processing of sociolinguistic variation in young children.
  • 18th May 2017 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Jade Jørgen Sandstedt 'Why is there so much disharmony in harmony languages?'
  • 13th April 2017 (12:10-13:00), room 1.17, DSB: Soundess Azzabou-Kacem 'Stress shift in English Rhythm Rule environments: Effects of prosodic boundary strength and stress clash types'. Abstract available here.
  • 9th February 2017 (13:10-14:00), room 1.20, DSB: Pertti Palo (QMU, Edinburgh) 'Patterns of Articulatory Activation in Delayed Naming'. Abstract: During my PhD project I have studied speech initiation with delayed naming experiments mainly recorded with ultrasound tongue imaging (UTI). I have developed methods for automatically analysing the articulatory data from UTI. In my presentation I will give a brief background for the experiments and the automatic analysis methods, followed by results on the timing relationships of acoustic and articulatory onsets. My results repeat the previous finding that the acoustic reaction time is inversely (negatively) correlated with acoustic duration of an onset consonant. I further show that this phenomenon originates in the interval from Articulatory onset to Acoustic onset and provide preliminary analysis on the parts of the tongue responsible for initiating movement in different onset consonant contexts.
  • 8th December 2016 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Siri Gjersøe (University of Leipzig) 'Tone and nominal inflection in Nuer'.
  • 1st December 2016 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Bob Ladd 'Three-way stop voicing contrast in Swiss German'.
  • 24th November 2016 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Bert Remijsen 'Three-level vowel length in Shilluk'.
  • 17th November 2016 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Qian Luo (Michigan State University) 'Consonantal Effects on Pitch in Tonal Languages' [slides available here].
  • 3rd November 2016 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Ben Molineaux 'Phonological and morphological patterns in Mapudungun stress assignment'.
  • 13th October 2016 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Michael Ramsammy 'Sibilant sandhi and hybrid voicing contrast in European Portuguese'.
  • 29th September 2016 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: James Kirby 'Microprosody and tonogenesis'.
  • 30th June 2016Stephanie Shih (UC Merced) 'Mende tonotactics in surface optimizing multilevel grammar'.
  • 9th June 2016Myfany Turpin (University of Sydney) 'Syllabic meter in Arandic languages of central Australia'.
  • 2nd June 2016: Tatiana Reid (University of Surrey) 'Nuer morphophonology: the verbal paradigm'.
  • 27th April 2016: Bryan Gick (University of British Columbia) 'Are speech universals hard-wired…in the body?'

For older events, have a look at our archive:

Phonetics and phonology workshop archive