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 Friday, 14:10-15.00 (but not every Friday), in the Dugald Stewart Building. 

Contact

The P-workshop is the forum 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

  • [6th December 2019 (14:10-15.00), room 4.18, David Hume Tower: session TBC]
  • [22nd November 2019 (14:10-15.00), room S38, 7 George Square: session TBC]
  • [8th November 2019 (14:10-15.00), room S38, 7 George Square: session TBC]
  • [25th October 2019 (14:10-15.00), room S38, 7 George Square: Patrick Honeybone 'Can phonotactics inhibit phonological change?']
  • [11th October 2019 (14:10-15.00), room LG.10, David Hume Tower: Georges Sakr title TBC]
  • 27th September 2019 (14:10-15.00), room S38, 7 George Square: P-Workshop kick-off session
  • 2nd September 2019 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL DAY - this is a Monday]: Christopher Heffner (University at Buffalo) 'Individual Differences in Phonetic Plasticity: Rate, Accent, and Learning'. Abstract: Speech understanding requires constant adjustment. This can be seen most radically when encountering new speech sound tokens in a second language, where categorizing non-native sounds requires learning. Yet adjustment to phonetic categories can be observed even within a native language, where tolerating variation between talkers in speech rate or in accent requires adaptation. Though non-native and native speech perception share similarities, it is unclear whether they rely on common cognitive resources. In the present study, we explore individual differences in each process in behavior. We focus first on adaptation to speech rate, finding that individual differences can be challenging in the world of rate adaptation. Next, we examine accent adaptation and both explicit learning and incidental learning of phonetic categories. In the end, we find interrelationships in performance on three of our measures of phonetic plasticity: explicit learning, accent adaptation, and rate adaptation. Better learners of non-native tokens in explicit tasks were also better adapters. This suggests that learning and adaptation may depend on shared behavioral plasticity.

Previous events

  • 2nd April 2019 (13:10-14:00), roomS38, 7 George Square [NOTE UNUSUAL DAY - this is a Tuesday]: Alice Turk (joint work with Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel) 'Evidence for a 3-component model of speech production with symbolic phonological representations and phonology-extrinsic timing'.
  • 19th February 2019 (13:10-14:00), room 1.20, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL DAY - this is a Tuesday]: Maria Dokovova (Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh) 'Processing the speech of L2 speakers with your L1 background.' Abstract: It is common knowledge that listening to an unfamiliar accent will slow down and impair your understanding. However, surprisingly little is known about the effects of listening to your native accent in the context of a second language. In this study 94 L1 Bulgarian - L2 English bilinguals listened to English words produced either by native English speakers or by fellow L1 Bulgarian - L2 English bilinguals. The accent of the words and the English proficiency of the listeners were used to predict the reaction times and accuracy of recognising the stimuli, as well as their pattern of adaptation. The results indicate that the accent of the words plays an important role for the accuracy, speed of recognition and speed of adaptation, while the English proficiency of the participants interacted with the accent in affecting the overall speed of recognition of the words.
  • 29th January 2019 (13:10-14:00), room 3.10, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL DAY - this is a Tuesday]: Scott Sadowsky (Universidad Católica de Chile / Max Plank Institute, Jena) 'The sociolinguistics of Spanish vowels: it’s a thing!' Abstract: While vowels have long been an integral part of the sociolinguistic study of English, they have received scant attention in Spanish. What little research has been done on Spanish vowels has, with few exceptions, been either strictly descriptive or has compared the vowels of two countries. The paucity of research on their sociolinguistic variation seems to be due to the belief that little if any such variation actually exists. This talk presents a study of the effects of sex and socioeconomic status on the vowel allophones of 61 young adult speakers of Chilean Spanish. As a preliminary analysis showed that stress greatly influences vowel allophone production, the five vowels of Spanish were each divided into three classes: pre-stressed, stressed and post-stressed. The results show that the vowels of female and male speakers differ significantly in 12 of the 15 resulting vowel classes. They further show that the allophones of three vowel classes correlate significantly with SES in female speakers, while those of three different classes do so in male speakers. The rather extreme sex stratification of Chilean Spanish vowel allophones suggests that they play a key role in speakers’ sex/gender identity. Likewise, the six cases of socioeconomic stratification suggest that similarly stratified features of Chilean Spanish (in particular, the allophones of many consonants) are insufficient to meet young speakers’ needs in creating, signaling and identifying social identities. In light of these findings, I argue that the time has come for a new focus on the sociolinguistics of the vowels of all Spanish varieties.
  • 7th December  2018 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Rebekka Puderbaugh 'Acoustic description of laryngeal contrasts in Upper Necaxa Totonac'
  • 16th November  2018 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: James Kirby 'Perception of laryngeal contrast in Madurese'. Abstract: We present a study of native speaker perception of the putative three-way laryngeal contrast in the Malayo-Polynesian language Madurese. Madurese is notable for an unusual CV co-occurrence restriction, but it is not clear whether the salient perceptual cues to CV sequences are localized in the consonants or in the vowels. The results of perceptual identification and discrimination experiments suggests that, despite producing small but robust VOT differences between voiceless stops in production, these differences are not exploited by listeners in perception. Although two features are therefore necessary to define the laryngeal contrast in Madurese, one of these is highly abstract, and the contrast in voiceless stops is defined in terms of this feature rather than in terms of [spread]. 
  • 2nd November  2018 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Ryan Gehrmann 'Katuic presyllables and derivational morphology in diachronic perspective'
  • 19th October 2018 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Bert Remijsen 'Phonetics, phonology and morphophonology of vocalic quantity in Shilluk'
  • 28th September 2018 (12:10-13:00), room 3.11, DSB [NOTE UNUSUAL TIME]: François Conrad (Leibniz Universität Hannover ) 'Insights into the phonetics and phonology of Luxembourgish'. Abstract: Luxembourgish is a West-Germanic language spoken by only about 400.000 speakers. How does this language sound like and what's the structure of its sound system? And what are the linguistic repercussions of the strong (language) contact with German (East) and French (West and South) since many centuries that shaped not only the language itself but the country as a whole? François Conrad is going to present some answers to these questions in the light of his current research projects.
  • 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.
  • 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