April 1, 2016

Awesomeness | Newly published | Talks and events | Deadlines | Excursions | Festivities

Please send information and news of departmental interest to Andrew Garrett.


Jevon Heath has accepted a position as a Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Florian Lionnet has been offered a position as an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Princeton University. Congratulations, Florian and Jevon!

Newly published

Kristofer E. Bouchard , David F. Conant , Gopala K. Anumanchipalli, Benjamin Dichter, Kris S. Chaisanguanthum, Keith Johnson, and Edward F. Chang, "High-Resolution, Non-Invasive Imaging of Upper Vocal Tract Articulators Compatible with Human Brain Recordings", PLoS ONE (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151327)

  • Abstract: "A complete neurobiological understanding of speech motor control requires determination of the relationship between simultaneously recorded neural activity and the kinematics of the lips, jaw, tongue, and larynx. Many speech articulators are internal to the vocal tract, and therefore simultaneously tracking the kinematics of all articulators is nontrivial — especially in the context of human electrophysiology recordings. Here, we describe a noninvasive, multi-modal imaging system to monitor vocal tract kinematics, demonstrate this system in six speakers during production of nine American English vowels, and provide new analysis of such data. Classification and regression analysis revealed considerable variability in the articulator-to-acoustic relationship across speakers. Non-negative matrix factorization extracted basis sets capturing vocal tract shapes allowing for higher vowel classification accuracy than traditional methods. Statistical speech synthesis generated speech from vocal tract measurements, and we demonstrate perceptual identification. We demonstrate the capacity to predict lip kinematics from ventral sensorimotor cortical activity. These results demonstrate a multi-modal system to non-invasively monitor articulator kinematics during speech production, describe novel analytic methods for relating kinematic data to speech acoustics, and provide the first decoding of speech kinematics from electrocorticography. These advances will be critical for understanding the cortical basis of speech production and the creation of vocal prosthetics."

Tara McAllister Byun, Sharon Inkelas, and Yvan Rose, "The A-map model: Articulatory reliability in child-specific phonology", Language 92: 141-178

  • Abstract: "This article addresses a phenomenon of long-standing interest: the existence of child-specific phonological patterns that are not attested in adult language. We propose a new theoretical approach, termed the A(rticulatory)-map model, to account for the origin and elimination of child-specific phonological patterns. Due to the performance limitations imposed by structural and motor immaturity, children’s outputs differ from adult target forms in both systematic and sporadic ways. The computations of the child’s grammar are influenced by the distributional properties of motor-acoustic traces of previous productions, stored in episodic memory and indexed in the eponymous A-map. We propose that child phonological patterns are shaped by competition between two essential forces: the pressure to match adult productions of a given word (even if the attempt is likely to fail due to performance limitations), and the pressure to attempt a pronunciation that can be realized reliably (even if phonetically inaccurate). These forces are expressed in the grammar by two constraints that draw on the motor-acoustic detail stored in the A-map. These constraints are not child-specific, but remain present in the adult grammar, although their influence is greatly attenuated as a wide range of motor plans come to be realized with a similar degree of reliability. The A-map model thus not only offers an account of a problematic phenomenon in development, but also provides a mechanism to model motor-grammar interactions in adult speech, including in cases of acquired speech impairment."

Lev Michael and Christine Beier, "Muniche external relations", KZ 23: 97-130

  • Abstract: "Recent fieldwork with second-generation rememberers of Muniche (ISO code: myr) provides evidence of a previously undocumented respect register whose salient features include not only voiced bilabial and palatal stops and an apparently contrastive series of aspirated stops [ph th ch kh], but a numeral system not used in ordinary language. In the respect register we were able to record the first five cardinal numbers [oin dwo trej kwetu penkw], apparently used for counting tapirs. Previous research has deemed the language an isolate (Michael et al. 2013), but based on our findings we are able to support a new and very different theory of Muniche external relations. Implications for early transoceanic navigation systems are explored briefly in an appendix."

Eve Sweetser and Kashmiri Stec, "Maintaining multiple viewpoints with gaze", in Viewpoint and the Fabric of Meaning, ed. by Barbara Dancygier, Wei-lun Lu, and Arie Verhagen (Mouton de Gruyter), pp. 237-258

  • Abstract: "Co-speech bodily gesture has remarkable flexibility in displaying or enacting viewpoint, since — unlike speech but like signed languages — it deploys multiple relatively orthogonal articulators, including head and gaze, two arms and hands, and torso posture. Combined with the viewpoints expressed in the linguistic track, this allows oral narrators to embody viewpoints of two characters at once, or to embody both narratorial viewpoint and an embedded character viewpoint simultaneously. This paper examines video data of semi-spontaneous personal narratives told by speakers of American English. We observe some of the ways in which gaze specifically is used to mark and maintain either the narrator's or some character's viewpoint (including the narrator's Past Self as a story character) even while other articulators may be marking a different viewpoint. These include discourse uses of gaze marking memory access, or 'checking' for approval from an interlocutor, as well as content uses such as alternation between enacted characters' gazes. It is always the storyteller's own eyes and face doing the gaze-enaction, but the understood meaning attributes a particular gaze to one of a complex of narrative viewpoints. This is transparent to listeners/viewers because they have access to the complex set of mental spaces evoked, not just to the physical space."

Talks and events


  • ICCG9: 9th International Construction Grammar Conference, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Brazil, October 5-7
    • Abstract deadline: April 3


Amy Rose Deal gave a colloquium talk at the University of Massachusetts Amherst:

  • "Shifty asymmetries: universals and variation in shifty indexicality" (March 25)

The Calques editors welcome news of other academic travel by Berkeley linguists!


Next month's Inkling (our social hour) will take place on Wednesday, April 27, 3:30–5 pm. Please mark your calendars! On this occasion we will enjoy a pleasing contest concerning reasons to join the Linguistic Society of America.