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): Grammatical Tone and Length in Gã

In Gã [Kwa; Ghana], many tense, aspect, mood and polarity (TAMP) distinctions are exponed tonally. When the subject of a clause is pronominal, these grammatical tones are realized on a subject pronoun prefix: with non-pronominal subjects, they are exponed on verbal TAMP prefixes instead. Prior literature centers around two main analyses to account for these alternations. Kropp Dakubu (2002) describes the processes as resulting from the deletion of the TAMP prefix after a pronoun, in which the tone of the pronoun delinks and reassociates to the pronoun. Paster (2003), on the other hand, argues that the process of prefix deletion after pronouns is not part of the synchronic phonology, instead arguing for an analysis in pronouns are analyzed as portmanteau STAMP (subject TAMP) morphs. In this talk, I present new data collected with a native speaker of Gã that sheds light on these processes, specifically through examples involving intervening PP constituents, which have not previously been discussed in relation to grammatical tone in Gã. I argue that this data provides evidence that a portmanteau analysis, as proposed by Paster, is not tenable for all contexts. Instead, I take the position that subject pronoun prefixes undergo fusion with aspect and mood prefixes. Additionally, I present novel data connecting progressive marking, which is exponed suprasegmentally through vowel length, to grammatical tone. 

March 12

Anna Mai (UCSD): On the Relationship Between Interaction and Complexity in Phonology

In this talk, I will present work done jointly with Eric Meinhardt, Eric Bakovic, and Adam McCollum on classes of regular functions at the outer edge of the complexity expected for phonological patterns. In particular, I will focus on the class of weakly-deterministic functions, a class of regular functions previously hypothesized to represent an upper bound on phonological complexity. Building on Elgot & Mezei's (1965) demonstration that regular functions can be decomposed into two contradirectional subsequential functions, I will present a definition of weakly deterministic functions as those for which the two contradirectional subsequential composands do not interact, in a way that will be formally clarified. In doing so, this work makes connections with more familiar notions of interaction in the phonological literature and provides greater insight into what distinguishes phonological patterns that require the greatest expressivity of regular functions (i.e., non-determinism) from those that require properly sub-regular expressivity (i.e., weak determinism).

April 2

Karee Garvin (UC Berkeley): Syllabification, Stress, and Gestural Diagnostics in English

Phonological theory makes strong predictions about syllabification in English, where phonological models typically syllabify a sequence of VCCV as V.CCV, so long as the cluster is a permissible onset. This is supported by typological data, which suggests that codas are more marked than onsets. Models of gestural coordination, like the coupled oscillator model, similarly lend support to the principle of onset maximization, arguing that onsets are synchronously planned with the following vowel, global timing, whereas codas are timed sequentially, local timing; as a result, onset+nuclei are more stable than codas. While literature on gestural coordination has demonstrated this pattern of coordination for onsets in English, studies have focused on word initial and stressed syllables, and thus, whether these coordination patterns extend to medial and unstressed syllables has yet to be determined. Furthermore, phonological models predict that word medial sequences should follow word boundary syllabification; however, typologically common phonological patterns like lenition and distributional patterns like edge-effects and extrametricality suggest that word medial syllable margins are distinct from word boundary syllable margins. In this presentation, I will present Electromagnetic Articulography (EMA) data to illustrate the effect of stress and word position on articulation and syllabification in English to show that our current phonological and gestural models are insufficient for predicting and modeling word medial syllabification. Instead, I propose that the coordination of jaw oscillation to segmental sequences serves as a diagnostic for syllabification that can be leveraged in both gestural and phonological models to better capture the attested patterns of syllable structure cross-linguistically.

April 9

Maho Morimoto (National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics [NINJAL])

While the class of liquids is known to be especially difficult to characterize phonetically (e.g. Lindau 1985), recent instrumental studies suggest that coronal liquid consonants are characteristically gesturally complex, requiring a coordination of coronal and dorsal gestures (Proctor 2011, Sproat and Fujimura 1993, Delattre and Freeman 1968). In this talk, I examine this hypothesis in terms of Japanese liquid consonant /r/, often described as apico-alveolar tap or flap. I first present articulatory and acoustic results from a production experiment using EMA (Electromagnetic Articulography), which suggest (though unsatisfactorily) that there is possible retraction of the tongue in addition to the apical gesture. I further examine this hypothesis through acoustic data from a speech corpus.


April 16

Natasha Warner (University of Arizona): Perception of all English sound sequences:  The roles of probability and duration (with collaboration from Seongjin Park)

How do listeners perceive sound as the acoustic information in the speech signal unfolds over time?  Most speech perception experiments examine the perception of specific types of sound sequences in order to answer a particular question.  We report on a very large study of the perception of all possible two-sound sequences of English over time as the speech signal becomes available to the listener.  This study allows us to compare how all speech is perceived in the language, with data being comparable for all types of sound transitions (e.g. CC, CV, VC, and VV). This data can be used to answer questions about phonetics of speech perception, and as input to models of spoken word recognition.
In the current talk, we examine the roles of two factors other than the basic acoustic cues of various segment types:  the probability of segments occurring, and how long acoustic information continues (duration).  When listeners do not have enough acoustic cues to perceive a segment yet, do they use lexical probability to try to predict sounds?  We find that although they may appear to use probability, this actually reflects use of categorical phonological patterns rather than gradient use of probability, at least in this low-level task.  Regarding duration, one might wonder whether sounds are acoustically clearer if they go on for longer, providing the listener with more chance to hear the acoustic cues.  However, past research might suggest that it is not added duration, but rapid acoustic change, that provides perceptual information.  Our results indicate that greater duration is only helpful when it coincides with time periods of sudden new acoustic information, rather than longer duration being helpful in and of itself.  Overall, these results suggest a strong role for low-level acoustic cues and a role for phonology in speech perception

April 30

Yuni Kim (University of Essex): Phonologically conditioned allomorphy in Amuzgo inflectional tone

In Amuzgo (Oto-Manguean; Mexico), tonal alternations contribute to person/number marking. Although there is a large number of lexically arbitrary tonal inflection classes (Kim 2016, Palancar 2020), in certain grammatical contexts the inflectional tones become predictable based on the underlying lexical tone and presence/absence of a final glottal stop on the verb stem (as briefly alluded to in Sande 2019 and Kim & Sande 2020). This is a case of phonologically conditioned allomorphy, since no plausible phonological operation can relate lexical tones to inflectional ones. Yet, the pattern does not sit easily with standard approaches to phonologically conditioned allomorphy such as subcategorization or markedness-based phonological output optimization. Rather, I analyze the pattern as involving the interaction of input-output faithfulness with arbitrary (but independently motivated) morphotactic constraints. I observe that while faithfulness is not normally involved in allomorph selection, tone is more prone to replacive morphology than other types of exponents, opening the door to faithfulness as a mechanism. Furthermore, the Amuzgo pattern supports a cophonology-based approach, since the crucial interaction between faithfulness and morphotactics cannot be accomplished with concatenation and interleaving (pace e.g. Bye & Svenonius 2012). I conclude that tone is very special (Hyman 2011, inter alia).

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