The Berkeley Phonetics and Phonology Forum ("Phorum") is a weekly talk and discussion series featuring presentations on all aspects of phonology and phonetics. 

We meet Friday 3-4pm on Zoom. Please email one of the organizers for the zoom link or to ask to be added to the mailing list (which will include relevant links).

Phorum is organized by Dakota Robinson and Anna Björklund. Our emails are respectively "dakota_robinson" and "aebjorklund"

Spring 2021 - Upcoming Talks

February 5

Maksymilian Dabkowski (UC Berkeley): Stress in Paraguayan Guaraní

I describe and analyze stress assignment in Paraguayan Guaraní (Tupian, ISO 639-3: gug). In PG, final stress predominates at the level of prosodic words and phonological phrases alike. However, non-final stress is also attested in exceptional roots, morphologically complex words, and multi-word phonological phrases.  I propose that there is one basic mechanism for stress assignment in PG: In the course of prosodification, stress targets the right edge of a prosodic constituent. This captures PG's predominantly final stress. Finally, I propose that non-final stress is a consequence of extrametricality, extraprosodic suffixation, and stress clash avoidance, which correctly restrict deviations from stress finality observed in Paraguayan Guaraní.

February 12

Florian Lionnet (Princeton University): Downstep in Paicî: between accent and tone 

In this talk, I propose a description and analysis of tone in Paicî, a language of New Caledonia, and one of the rare Oceanic languages to have developed a tone system without external influence. Building on Jean-Claude Rivierre's (1974, 1978) work and drawing from fieldwork data, I show that the tonal system of Paicî is best described with three underlying primitives: two tones (High vs. Low), and a downstep /ꜜ/. The Paicî downstep is particularly interesting for the empirical documentation as well as the typological and theoretical understanding of downstep, because it combines many rare properties, including the following:  

 (i) it only affects L tones, and is attested only after a L-tone or utterance-initially;  

(ii) it is its own phonological object, a register feature separate from tone and only indirectly interacting with it;  

(iii) it is not triggered by a floating tone;  

(iv) it is “total” in Meeussen’s (1970:270) terms, i.e. it lowers the register in such a way that the new “ceiling” corresponds to the former “floor”;  

(v) it is culminative and demarcative within the prosodic word and is partly conditioned by metrical structure.  

 Many of these properties have a clear accentual flavor. The Paicî prosodic system thus appears to consist of two subsystems: a non-ambiguous tone system (with a H vs. L lexical contrast), with no accentual properties (hence not “pitch-accent”) – and a parallel system best described as a defective accentual system in the early stages of tonologization, marked by downstep. Preliminary comparative evidence from neighboring and closely related (non-tonal) Xârâcùù shows that the Paicî downstep pattern is indeed very likely to be the tonologized descendant of a former accentual system which historically predates the innovation of tonal contrasts in Paicî. 

February 19 

Hannah Sande (UC Berkeley)

Check-in meeting facilitated by Hannah Sande: come share current and upcoming projects and get to know our newest faculty member!

February 26

Susannah Levi (NYU): Talker familiarity helps speech perception. Does the benefit stop there?

To understand speech, listeners must parse the highly variable acoustic signal into appropriate, language-specific phonological categories and generalize these categories to novel stimuli in order to perceive words correctly. Previous research has found that listeners are better at processing speech from familiar speakers, typically measured in a spoken word or sentence recognition task. Work in the lab extended these findings to children with a range of language skills. The next stage of our research will test whether the benefits at the level of speech perception impact higher-level processing. 

March 5

Katie Russell (UC Berkeley)

March 12

Anna Mai (UCSD)

April 2

Karee Garvin (UC Berkeley) 

April 16

Natasha Warner (University of Arizona)

April 23

Richard Bibbs (UCSC)

Fall 2020 - Archived Talks

September 4

Round robin

Students and faculty are invited to discuss their past and upcoming research.

September 11

Nicholas Rolle (Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS))- First-last harmony or outward-looking allomorphy in Cilungu grammatical tone

We present on a case study of grammatical tone allomorphy in Cilungu (Bantu). Tense/Aspect/Mood designations (TAMs) are realized via co-exponence of prefixes, suffixes, and floating tones. In a small number of TAMs (e.g. Recent Past /á-cí-…-il-e/), there is allomorphy with the floating tones. With Recent Past, one is a high tone targeting the final TBU of the stem (F) at the right-edge, versus one targeting the second stem TBU (2). For all TAMs, the alternation is conditioned by the tone of subject agreement markers (SMs) at the left edge of the word. If the SM is high-toned the F variant occurs, but if it is toneless then 2 occurs.

We present two competing accounts of these data. Under a morphological account, we posit contextual realizational rules with multiple stored allomorphs, i.e. distinct (suppletive) exponents conditioned by SM tone. In contrast, under a phonological account there is morphologically-conditioned phonology causing the alternation, triggered only in the context of SMs and the small set of TAMs. A rule would capture a conspiracy in these alternations: if the SM is H at the left edge then there is a grammatical H at the right edge, but if the left-edge SM is toneless then grammatical tone does not fall on the right edge (a rule of 'first/last tone agreement'). We present several arguments in favor of the morphological analysis (suppletion) over a phonological one (morphologically-conditioned phonology), and discuss a major theoretical implication: outward-looking phonologically-conditioned allomorphy is possible, standardly argued to be unattested and/or impossible.

[In collaboration with Lee Bickmore-- University at Albany]

September 18

Martha Schwarz (UC Berkeley) 

September 25

Hossep Dolatian (Stony Brook University)- Head-based bracketing paradoxes in Armenian compounds

It is often argued that words have complex internal structure in terms of their morphology, phonol-gy, and semantics.  On the surface, Armenian compounds present a bracketing paradox between their morphological and phonological structure.  I argue that this bracketing paradox simultaneously references endocentricity, strata, and prosody.  I use Armenian as a case study to argue for the use of cyclic approaches to bracketing paradoxes over the more common counter-cyclic approaches.  I analyze the bracketing paradox using cyclic Head-Operations (Hoeksema 1984) and Prosodic Phonology (Nespor and Vogel 1986), specifically the Prosodic Stem (Downing 1999a). I argue that the interaction between the bracketing paradox and the rest of compound phonology requires the use of stratal levels and cyclicity. I argue that counter-cyclic approaches like Morphological Merger (Marantz 1988) or Morphological Rebracketing (Sproat 1985) are inadequate because they make incorrect predictions about Armenian phonology.

October 9

Connor Mayer (UCLA)- Gradient opacity in Uyghur backness harmony.

Opacity has long been an important issue for phonological theory, particular in evaluating serial theories, such as SPE, against parallel theories, such as OT. This presentation will examine a case of opacity in Uyghur (Turkic: China). In addition to exhibiting backness and rounding harmony, Uyghur has a vowel reduction process that neutralizes the front and back vowels /æ/ and /ɑ/ to the harmonically neutral vowel /i/, potentially introducing opacity into the harmony system. Based on a combination of elicitation and a large-scale corpus study, I show that opaque harmony (harmonizing with underlying forms even when it produces surface disharmony) is the standard pattern in Uyghur. However, the individual stems may also appear in tokens with surface-true harmony. An analysis of corpus frequencies shows that words whose unraised forms occur more frequently, and that occur with overall higher frequency in general, are more likely to display opaque harmony. I model this data using a variant of paradigm uniformity constraints, that, rather than requiring properties of the stem to be invariant across allomorphs, requires that all allomorphs of a stem take suffixes that harmonize with their base form, even when this violates surface harmony. The strength of a particular allomorph as a base is contingent on how frequently it is observed. I finish by discussing the implications of these results for theories of the representation and learning of opaque patterns.

October 23

Juliet Stanton (NYU)- Allomorph selection precedes phonology: evidence from Yindjibarndi

Theories of the phonology-morphology interface differ in their claims regarding the timing of phonologically-conditioned suppletive allomorphy (PCSA) and regular phonology.  Some (e.g. Paster 2006, Wolf 2008) argue that PCSA can or must precede phonology; others (e.g. Mascaró 2007, Smith 2015) argue that at least phonologically optimizing PCSA operates in parallel with phonology.  This paper discusses a case of partially optimizing PCSA in Yindjibarndi (Pama-Nyungan, Wordick 1982), shows that it is impossible to analyze under the assumption that PCSA and phonology occur in parallel, and proposes an analysis under which suppletion precedes phonology.

November 6

Ana Lívia Agostinho (UC Berkeley)- Word-prosody in Lung’Ie: One system or two?

In this talk, we present a phonological analysis of the word-prosodic system of Lung'Ie (iso code 639-3: PRE), a Portuguese-based creole language spoken in São Tomé and Príncipe. Lung'Ie has produced a unique result of the contact between the two different prosodic systems common in Creolization: a stress-accent lexifier (Portuguese) and tone language substrates. The language has a restrictive privative H/Ø tone system, in which the H is culminative, but non-obligatory (there are toneless words). Since rising CVV́ and falling CV́V falling tones are contrastive and synchronically unpredictable on long vowels, the tone must be marked underlyingly. While it is clear that tonal indications are needed, Lung'Ie reveals two properties more expected of an accentual system: (i) there can only be one heavy syllable (CVV, CVC, CVG) per word; (ii) this syllable must bear a H tone. This raises the question of whether syllables with a culminative H also have metrical prominence, i.e. stress. However, the problem with equating stress with H tone is that Lung'Ie has two kinds of nouns: those with a culminative H and those which are toneless (all-Ø). The nouns with culminative H are 87% of Portuguese-origin, incorporated through stress-to-tone alignment, while the toneless ones are 93% of African-origin. Although other Creole languages have been reported with split systems of “accented” vs. fully specified tonal lexemes, and others with mixed systems of tone and stress, Lung'Ie differs from these cases in treating African-origin words as toneless, a quite surprising result. We respond to the different past descriptions of Lung'Ie word-prosody (Agostinho 2015, 2016; Günther 1973; Maurer 2009; Traill and Ferraz 1981) and evaluate two possible interpretations of the Lung'Ie data: The first is that it is a restrictive tone system with culminative /H/ and an unusual “weight-to-tone” requirement. The second is that Lung'Ie has a “split” prosodic system where words either have stress-and-tone with the more usual “weight-to-stress” requirement or are both toneless and stressless.

November 13

Chantal Gratton (Stanford University)

December 4

Martha Schwarz (UC Berkeley)- The effect of coda aspiration on preceding vowel duration in Nepali

Much cross-linguistic evidence shows that vowels are longer before voiced consonants than voiceless, but fewer studies examine the correlation between other laryngeal specifications and vowel duration, and the results of these studies have been inconsistent. This study finds evidence for an aspiration effect in Nepali: vowels are longer before the aspirated stop classes than their unaspirated counterparts. Simultaneously, within-category variation in phonetic realization shows a negative correlation between aspiration duration and vowel duration. The opposite direction of the within-category and cross-category effects is consistent with a production-based cue-trading analysis of the aspiration effect.


A list of previous Phorum talks can be found at the Phorum Archive